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Speeph by Piyankara Jayaratne, State Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Market Diversification,

Sri Lanka at the Abu Dhabi Dialogue Sixth Ministerial Consultation, 26th October 2021 in Dubai as Troika Chair.

Allow me to address you all in the opening session of the 6th Ministerial Consultation of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue. I’m talking here with great honour and pleasure in this pleasant morning as the Troika member in this hybrid meeting, in the first physical gathering in the post-covid new normal.

First of all, I would like to appreciate and congratulate the Government of United Arab Emirates, the current chair of ADD, for organizing this hybrid event for 6th ministerial consultation while we all are combating against the Global Pandemic of COVID-19. I am happy to be in person here and too see you all gathered here together for this important consultation.

As we are aware, Migration today, as it has always been, is a function of the search for greater opportunities. It is of course, related to the economic development through trade and labour migration while ensuring rights of the people and national and regional security.

On one way, labour migration provides an opportunity for the migrants to find fruitful employment and improve their socio-economic status. On the other hand, this allows growing nations to seek out the required expertise and talent from rest of the world. However, it poses risks such as those encountered during recruitment, in the workplace and throughout the migration process in the country of origin, transit and destination.

Development gains of labour migration depends upon the degree, to which migrant workers are protected and empowered, by the country of origin as well as the country of destination.

Therefore, migration today is a multi-dimensional process, countries of origin and destination has the potential for both benefits and challenges. In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, it has resulted in many socio-economic challenges for migrant workers. In order to address these challenges, we as Country of Origin and Country of Destination have to consult each other for the successful and sustainable solutions.

Sri Lankan Government was able to take several measures that contributed to the national Covid 19 response plan for migrant workers. I believe that all other countries have their own plans. However, I would like to highlight that ADD platform is an excellent opportunity for all of us to share our experiences, best practices especially in areas that are important for migrant workers. This would enable us, to have a good understanding as to which areas we need to improve and strengthen in the future.

We, as member states of ADD, have just completed twelve years in the journey since the inception in 2008 and therefore, I strongly believe that it is high time to review and evaluate our collaborative efforts how we act in the current pandemic period and in future. This will certainly help all member states to develop future plans of ADD more meaningfully. I know that ADD can Play a vital role in bringing together labour sending and receiving countries and fostering the dialogue and trust that is central to the governance of Migration. Further, I’d like to highlight the need for regional corporation to enhance the resilience of safe labour migration in future to meet global event like that of Covid-19 pandemic.

Further, Migrant workers face various challenges in accessing quality training and decent employment opportunities, and lack of information and exploitation of low-skilled workers. To reap the benefits of migration, countries thus need to ensure that migration is demand-oriented, while migrant workers’ rights are protected. The access to education and training with right information and employment opportunities would enable proper integration of workers with the labour market and society. Certification and Joint Recognition of skills is another important factor that we have to be discussed.

We are all aware, there are three pillars of effective governance guides that are initiated by the ADD.

1) Ensuring the protection of migrant workers;

2) empowering workers to fulfil their goals and aspirations; and

3) affording workers the opportunity to benefit equitably from the outcomes of temporary labour migration.

Under this, the four thematic areas were designed and outlined during the last Senior Officials Meeting with these principles in mind. Namely,

Anticipated changes in the employment landscape in the GCC and their impact on labour supply and demand in ADD corridors

Leveraging advanced technology to improve labour mobility governance

Pre deployment testing of workers in Asia GCC Corridors

Global Governance of Migration

At this juncture, as ADD member countries, I would like to request you to continue our efforts with collaborative actions, because, I believe that productive, safe and harmonious migration can only be achieved if there is wider and deeper inter-state co-operation among the sending and receiving countries. It is the key to a better functioning of International Labour Migration Process. It will provide us with more positive results through a voluntary and cooperative efforts based on shared recognition of the benefits while enhancing the resilience.

On behalf the Government of Sri Lanka and as a Troika Member, would like to express our sincere gratitude to Abu Dhabi Dialogue Secretariat for their trust that kept with Government of Sri Lanka to initiate consultations among Abu Dhabi Dialogue Member States of Labour Origin and to identify a consensus candidate to chair the next cycle of the ADD.

I am happy that we were be able achieve that task diplomatically. Thank you very much for Government of Nepal and Pakistan. I take this opportunity to congratulate Government of Pakistan as the upcoming chair of Abu Dhabi Dialogue for the next two years. In this juncture, I also would like to extend my thanks to Government of United Arab Emirates for the esteemed corporation given during their period of chairmanship despite the challenges brought by COVID 19 pandemic.

Finally, I request active participation of the member countries for this 6th Ministerial consultation and in future in order to strengthen the migration management, both in labour origin and destination countries through this excellent platform of ADD.

We will have a collective voice together for the betterment of Migrant workers and the Countries of Origin and Destination as a whole.

I hope and believe we would have a very productive consultation toward enhancing the resilience of safe labour migration.

Thank you

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