Meet Sanaka Samarasinha, a Distinguished International Diplomat

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Canton, Michigan, 26th June 2024, ZEX PR WIRE, Sanaka Samarasinha, a distinguished international diplomat, holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Kansas. With over 25 years of experience in the United Nations, he has significantly contributed to global development, serving 40 countries. As the UN Resident Coordinator in the Pacific (2018-2023), Samarasinha was the principal UN official in Fiji, Vanuatu, Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, and Micronesia. He led 31 UN agencies with an annual budget of $250 million, focusing on sustainable development and resilience-building. His strategic leadership during natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in mobilizing resources and fostering regional cooperation, achieving notable development advancements. Previously, as the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus (2013-2018), Samarasinha facilitated pioneering dialogues on democratic governance and human rights. His innovative initiatives, such as the #UN70BelarusExpress, empowered local communities to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promoted inclusive development. Samarasinha’s dedication to sustainable development, good governance, and human rights has made him a formidable international diplomacy leader. Fluent in English and Sinhala, with basic proficiency in French and Russian, he continues to leverage his extensive experience and skills to drive global cooperation and development, impacting communities worldwide.

  • Can you elaborate on the significance of the International Day of Living Together in Peace and its relevance today?

The International Day of Living Together in Peace reminds us of our collective responsibility to foster peace, tolerance, and solidarity. This day points to the need for proactive dialogue and mutual understanding in a world grappling with conflicts, inequality, and social division. It encourages nations to celebrate diversity and work together towards a harmonious coexistence. Today’s relevance is profound, as it calls for unified efforts to address global challenges, promote reconciliation, and build sustainable peace for future generations.

  • How do you define “living together in peace,” and why is it more than just the absence of conflict?

In my view, living together in peace transcends the mere absence of conflict; it requires active engagement in dialogue, understanding, and compassion. It involves recognizing and celebrating our differences while focusing on our shared humanity. This proactive approach fosters environments where reconciliation and mutual respect thrive. True peace is dynamic and participatory, encouraging collaboration and resolving conflicts through empathy and cooperation. It’s about creating inclusive communities that value every individual’s contribution, ensuring a sustainable and harmonious world.

  • In your extensive career with the United Nations, what are some of the most impactful initiatives you have been involved in to promote peace and solidarity?

One impactful initiative was my role as UN Resident Coordinator in the Pacific, where we mobilized resources for sustainable development and resilience-building. During natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, our coordinated efforts with 31 UN agencies facilitated high-level political dialogues and regional cooperation. In Belarus, fostering democratic governance and human rights dialogues significantly contributed to national peacebuilding efforts. These initiatives highlighted the importance of reconciliation, inclusivity, and solidarity in achieving lasting peace and development.

  • You emphasize the importance of reconciliation, compassion, and forgiveness. Can you share some successful examples of how these principles have led to lasting peace?

In the Pacific, our reconciliation programs involved community dialogues that bridged ethnic divides, fostering unity and cooperation. In post-conflict areas, initiatives promoting forgiveness and compassion among former adversaries significantly reduced tensions and built trust. These efforts, coupled with inclusive development projects, created sustainable peace. For example, engaging local leaders and youth in peace education and community service activities in Vanuatu helped heal past wounds and foster a culture of empathy and solidarity.

  • How can countries and communities actively promote reconciliation and ensure sustainable development through reconciliatory measures and acts of service?

Countries and communities can promote reconciliation by encouraging open dialogue and understanding among diverse groups. Implementing community service projects that involve collaborative efforts across different sectors fosters unity and mutual respect. Educational programs emphasizing peace, empathy, and forgiveness are crucial. Governments should support initiatives that address historical grievances and promote social justice. These measures can build trust, ensure inclusive development, and create a foundation for lasting peace by involving faith leaders, NGOs, and local communities.

  • What role do faith leaders and community actors play in fostering a culture of peace, and how can they be effectively engaged in this mission?

I believe faith leaders and community actors are pivotal in fostering a culture of peace due to their influence and trust within communities. They can promote values of tolerance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Engaging them in peacebuilding initiatives and community dialogues ensures their active participation in resolving conflicts and promoting social cohesion. Collaborative efforts between government agencies, NGOs, and these leaders can amplify the impact of peace initiatives, creating an environment where peace and solidarity thrive.

  • Reflecting on the history of the United Nations and its efforts to promote peace, what lessons can we learn from past initiatives like the International Year for a Culture of Peace and the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for Children of the World?

Past initiatives teach us that sustained commitment and inclusive participation are essential for peace. The International Year and Decade for a Culture of Peace emphasized education, awareness, and community engagement as key drivers. They highlighted the need for continuous efforts to address the root causes of conflict and promote non-violence. These initiatives demonstrated the importance of global cooperation, proactive policies, and local empowerment in building a culture of peace that benefits all humanity.

  • How does the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace serve as a universal mandate for promoting peace and non-violence today?

The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace provides a comprehensive framework for promoting peace and non-violence. It outlines strategies for fostering tolerance, understanding, and solidarity. Advocating for eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting human rights serves as a universal mandate guiding nations in their peacebuilding efforts. Its principles encourage proactive measures, inclusive policies, and community engagement to create a sustainable and peaceful world.

  • In the context of global diversity, how can we celebrate our differences while fostering unity and mutual understanding?

Celebrating global diversity involves recognizing and valuing the unique contributions of each culture and community. Promoting intercultural dialogues, educational programs, and inclusive policies fosters mutual understanding and respect. Encouraging collaborative efforts in community projects and international initiatives helps build bridges across cultural divides. Focusing on our shared humanity and common goals can create a unified global community that embraces diversity and works together toward peace and solidarity.

  • What are the key challenges and opportunities for the international community in building a sustainable world of peace and solidarity?

Key challenges include addressing deep-seated inequalities, managing conflicts, and combating climate change. However, these challenges present opportunities for innovative solutions and global cooperation. Advancing technology and increased connectivity offer platforms for dialogue and collaboration. The international community must prioritize inclusive development, support grassroots peace initiatives, and promote policies that foster social justice and environmental sustainability. We can build a sustainable world of peace and solidarity by leveraging these opportunities and addressing challenges collectively.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No News View 360 journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.