Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO

Sri Lanka Ambassador- Designate and Permanent Delegate H.E Manisha Gunesekera, assumed duties at the Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO on 27 February 2023 in Paris, France.


Sri Lanka became a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 14 November 1949 soon after its independence in 1948, even before its membership with the United Nations Organization (UN) in 14 December 1955.

The UNESCO Office in New Delhi oversees Sri Lanka and coordinates the groundwork with the UNESCO·Headquarters.

Sri Lanka was elected to the UNESCO Executive Board for two consecutive terms (2008-2011) and to the General Conference in October 2007.

Sri Lanka served on the Executive Board on earlier occasions as follows:

  • 1968-1974 Mr Frederick de Silva
  • 1987-1989 Mr Nissanka Parakrama Wijeyeratne
  • 1989-1991 Mr Ananda P. Guruge
  • 2003-2007 Mr Karunasena Kodituwakku, Mr Mangala Samaraweera
  • 2007-2011 Mr Susil Premajayantha, Mr Bandula Gunawardana
  • 2015-2019 Mr Akila Viraj Kariyawasam 


Sri Lanka was elected to the Executive Board in November 2023 for the term 2023-2027.


Sri Lanka is a member of the following subsidiary bodies of the General Conference of UNESCO:

  • Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and sports (CIGEPS)
  • UNESCO Headquarters Committee
  • Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC)



Sri Lanka has a child population of 4.2 million and a literacy rate of 92.5%, which is the highest in South Asia. Sri Lanka has already achieved several of the Education for All (EFA) Goals in primary education, gender parity, infant and maternal mortality. Our EFA development Index is 0.956, placing us close to completing the EFA Goals.


The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO
An Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System were established under the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC). This is part of a Global Operational Multi-Purpose Detection and Multi-Hazard Warning System. Sri Lanka has actively participated in all the meetings of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System.

UNESCO Tsunami assistance to Sri Lanka
Immediately after the December 26 tsunami, UNESCO established a temporary antenna with two staff members to assist in the tsunami activities in Sri Lanka and many UNESCO missions were undertaken in Sri Lanka to provide technical assistance.

Biosphere Reserves approved by UNESCO
There are 94 biosphere reserves in 21 countries in Asia which have been approved by the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO. Following are the four Biosphere Reserves in Sri Lanka are:
- Hurulu (1977)
- Sinharaja (1978)
- Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya (KDN) (2004)
- Bundala (2005)


The Misuse of Religious Symbols & Expressions
Sri Lanka submitted an item on the Misuse of Religious Symbols and Expression at UNESCO's 170th Session of the Executive Board which was adopted by the 33rd session of the General Conference in 2005 with the support of many Member States.

World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

    • Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (1982)
    • Ancient City of Sigiriya (1982)
    • Sacred City of Anuradhapura (1982)
    • Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (1988)
    • Sacred City of Kandy (1988)
    • Sinharaja Forest Reserve (1988)
    • Golden Temple of Dambulla (1991)
    • Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (2010)

    Sites under consideration for inscription: Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara.

    Intangible Cultural Heritages of Sri Lanka

    • Traditional Craftmanship of making Dumbara Rata Kalala (2021)
    • Rukada Natya, traditional string puppet drama in Sri Lanka (2018)



    Sri Lanka was the venue of the World Press Freedom Day on the 3rd of May 2006 under the auspices of UNESCO. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3rd May as World Press Freedom Day to commemorate and celebrate the principles of the freedom of the Press and to pay tribute to journalists around the world who contribute to promoting and protecting the freedom of the media.

    World Press Freedom Day celebration consists of two days of international conferences dealing with a key subject related to press freedom. This two-day conference culminates with the Awards Ceremony of the UNESCO/Guillermo World Press Prize. The Sri Lanka conference had as its theme ‘Media, Development and Poverty Eradication.


    The UNESCO Fellowships Programme, through the award and administration of fellowships, study and travel grants, aims to contribute to the enhancement of human resources and national capacity-building in areas that are closely aligned to UNESCO's expected strategic objectives and programme priorities; as well as increase fellowships co-sponsorship arrangements with interested donors and extrabudgetary funding sources through the Co-Sponsored Fellowships Programme.

    So far Sri Lankan citizens have been awarded the following fellowships:

    • UNESCO/Israel (MASHAV) co-sponsored Fellowship
    • UNESCO/China (The Great Wall) co-sponsored·Fellowship
    • UNESCO·Fellowships
    • Programme in support of Priority Programme Areas
    • UNESCO/JAPAN: OBUCHI Co-Sponsored Fellowships
    • UNESCO/Republic of Korea (IPDC) Co-Sponsored Fellowships


    Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka UNESCO

    H.E. Manisha Gunesekera 

    Bureaux M2.08 à 10
    1, rue Miollis
    75732 PARIS Cédex 15

    Telephone: +33 1 45 68 30 30 / +33 1 45 68 30 40
    Fax: +33 1 47 83 29 45


    Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO
    5th Floor, Ministry of Education
    Isurupaya, Battaramulla
    Sri Lanka

    Telephone: +94 11 21 77 002/3 (General)
    Fax : +94 11 21 77 007
    E-mail :


    Hon. Susil Premajayanth   
    Minister of Education and Chairman of the National Commission

    Mr. Nihal Ranasinghe

    Secretary, Ministry of Education and Vice Chairman of the National Commission

    Prof. Sirimalee Fernando
    Secretary General of the National Commission