Sri Lanka was elected to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on November 11, 2015 during the 38th General Conference in Paris. Sri Lanka was one of six countries that qualified to serve on the Executive Board from the Asia and Pacific Group for the period 2015-2019, having received 149 out of 186 votes at the election in which there were eight candidate countries.
The countries which were elected to the Executive Board from the Asia and Pacific Group with Sri Lanka are Malaysia, Viet Nam, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, and Iran. This is the first election to a UN Specialized Agency that Sri Lanka contested for, under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The decision to pursue membership in the UNESCO Executive Board was a manifestation of the Government’s policy of renewing engagement with the international community and reaffirmation of the principles of the Government. Such principles include strengthening democracy and good governance, ensuring justice, liberty, equality, freedom and dignity for all aimed at achieving a durable peace and the harmonious celebration and preservation of Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual character which are in line with the purposes and principles of UNESCO. The vision enshrined in the UNESCO Charter of building peace in the minds of people is in fact the vision which is at the heart of the Government’s own mission to unite the hearts and minds of the people of Sri Lanka through reconciliation.
Sri Lanka has served on the Executive Board thrice previously from 1968-1974, 1987-1991 and from 2003-2011.