Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said the candidature of Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala to the United Nations’ top post was a temporary bridge in consensus building in a divided nation. The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Website of Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lanka’s nominee for the post of UN Secretary General at the Sri Lanka Institute of International Relations.

 The Website is for easy access of information about one of Sri Lanka’s formost diplomats and frontrunner for the coveted post in the world body. It was my predecessor late Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who announced Dr. Dhanapala’s candidature for the post of Secretary General of the UN, Minister Samaraweera said. He said Dhanapala’s candidature not only galvanised bi-patisan support across the political divide, but also that of the private sector and the civil society. The Opposition UNP promptly endorsed the candidature, in a country which often sees division over various issues, Dr. Dhanapala’s candidature is unique in that it has united us all, the Minister added. Explaining why the world body needed the guidance of man of Dhanapala’s calibre, Minister Samaraweera said the UN with all its flaws and shortcomings has nevertheless tried to create a ‘world ruled by the law rather than the rule of the jungle.’

 ‘The UN at 60 is also an institution whose very role is being questioned, and is therefore in need of a strong and experienced leadership to meet the challenges of the ever increasing complexities of the new world order, Samaraweera said. Especially for countries like Sri Lanka, a world without the UN would be a dangerous place’. Dr. Dhanapala who was also the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, is possessed of vital consensus building skills, and neutrality, the Minister explained. ‘He has the goodwill to renew the Organization, consolidate its strength and rectify its shortcomings, and has the qualifications to steer the UN through the most challenging era of world affairs.’

 Speaking at the gathering Dhanapala, one of the only two Asian candidates who had their government support said it was way back in 1995 that he candidature for the UN top post was talked of. ‘But it was Africa’s term to be the Secretary General and we decided to respect the rotational scheme,’ he said. Dhanapala who first talked about the need for UN reform, before it became a mantra said it was vital to reform the world body but one should make sure not to throw away the baby with the bath water’.