Jayantha Dhanapala: Man
of our Times
by Ivan Corea
The present Secretary-General of the
United Nations, Kofi Annan will complete
his second five year term on December
The hunt is on for the successor to Annan to take over the most
high profile diplomatic position in the world to provide leadership to
191 nations. We are living in tense times.
There are wars going on around the world, high profile stand-offs
and grandstanting between nations amid bitter disputes.
Public opinion has been badly dented as a result of corruption and
sex scandals, questions are being asked: Is the United Nations
value for money? Who will have the strength of character and
leadership to spearhead the reform agenda at the UN?
Come December this year, the United Nations Security Council will
recommend a candidate to the UN General Assembly of nations.
The reality is that the five permanent members of the United Nations
- United States, Great Britain, Russia, China and France will choose
Annan's successor via a secret ballot. So who is it going to be?
Have the five permanent members made up their minds? Who will
occupy the hot seat?
According to the latest news reports China has declared that the
next UN Secretary General should come from Asia.
Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said that, "Asian people
haven't taken the important post for 34 years and Asia is the most
populous continent. We think the next Secretary-General should be
picked from Asian nations."
Other reports quoted the US Ambassador John Bolton saying; 'We
don't believe that the next Secretary General will need to be a
strong administrator, someone who is committed to reforming the
Sri Lanka has formally declared their candidate Jayantha
Dhanapala the experienced diplomat and former United Nations
Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs 1998-2003.
Ambassador Dhanapala was President of the 1995 NPT Review and
He joined the Foreign Service of Sri Lanka in 1965 and his
diplomatic tour of duty included London, Beijing, Washington DC
and New Delhi.
The Government of Sri Lanka appointed him ambassador to the
United Nations in Geneva in 1984. He left the Sri Lankan Foreign
Service to head the United Nations Institute for Disarmament
Jayantha Dhanapala re-joined the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry as
Additional Secretary before taking up the position of Ambassador to
the United States.
He has served as Commissioner in UNSCOM with distinction and as
the Head of the Special Group visiting the Presidential Sites in Iraq.
He was a member of the 1996 Canberra Commission on the
Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Integrity and character
It was during his tenure as Under-Secretary General of the United
Nations that I met Sri Lanka's distinguished diplomat at the UN
Headquarters in New York when I attended a UN Conference on
Civil Conflict, organise by UNs.
Dhanapala was always welcoming, ever the consummate diplomat.
He was regarded as a first rate diplomat and administrator in New
During that trip to the US I had the opportunity of meeting several
Ambassadors to the UN and they spoke highly of him. Jayantha
Dhanapala is known as a man of integrity and character.
He was born on December 30th in 1938 and was educated at Trinity
College Kandy. He proved to be an all rounder even in his school
days and was awarded the Ryde Gold Medal for the best all-round
student in 1956. He went on to represent his country with great
Jayantha brought honour to the land of his birth when he served
with the United Nations. In 2004 he was appointed as
Secretary-General of the Peace Secretariat for the Co-ordinating of
the Peace Process.
He resigned from this position recently. He is a diplomat who is very
much at ease with himself and with others Dhanapala has gravitas.
Dhanapala is a 'people person' a man of our times who has handled
some hugely complex issues at the United Nations. He has a track
record of proven (diplomatic) success.
Jayantha Dhanapala has got what it takes to lead the United
Nations; the ball is now in the court of the five permanent members
of the UN. [DN]