A new website www.jayanthadhanapala.com was recently launched in Colombo to introduce Sri Lanka’s official candidate for the post of UN Secretary-General, Jayantha Dhanapala, to a wider audience – right across the worldwide web.The present Secretary-General of the United Nations will relinquish his post in December 2006 and the question people are asking: ‘Who will be Annan’s successor?’ China and Russia say it is Asia’s turn. The United States and possibly Britain are not so sure. They would rather have open competition from around the world. They want a strong manager.French President Jacques Chirac said the successor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan must be a leader who can unite the international community. The 5 permanent memebers of the United Nations -the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain have to recommend a successor. At this moment in time they are divided over the issue. Kofi Annan’s successor must be approved by the General Assembly, based on a recommendation from the Security Council.

 Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka is a very strong candidate. He is highly respected as a diplomat by the international community. Dhanapala was an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. He has stong managerial skills and has gravitas. Dhanapala is known as a ‘people person’ who is at ease with himself and at ease with others. Dhanapala is a leader and is known as a man of integrity and character. His biography is impressive: Dhanapala has had a distinguished career spanning the private sector, government, the United Nations and academia from 1962-2004 interacting with different levels of society including Heads of State and Government and a wide diversity of nationalities.

 Following a stint in the private sector in Sri Lanka, he ranked first in seeking entry into the Sri Lankan Foreign Service in 1965 and served thereafter in diplomatic postings in London, Beijing, Washington D.C., New Delhi and Geneva culminating in Ambassadorial appointments in Geneva (1984-87) accredited to the UN and in Washington D.C. (1995-97). During his diplomatic career he engaged pro-actively and innovatively in political, disarmament, economic, trade, human rights and cultural matters in both bilateral and multilateral contexts.

 He represented Sri Lanka and chaired groups in Non-aligned Movement and SAARC Conferences, Commonwealth meetings, Conference on Disarmament and disarmament treaty related meetings, UNCTAD, Commission on Human Rights and other human rights bodies, ILO, WHO, WIPO, WMO etc. Dhanapala was widely acclaimed for his Presidency of the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, a landmark event in disarmament history, because of his crafting of a package of decisions balancing the twin objectives of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and the concerns of the nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states which was adopted without a vote. He was later invited by the Government of Australia to serve as a member of the Canberra Commission together with a Group of 17 eminent international personalities publishing an influential report on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in 1996.

Schooled and experienced in corporate management, Dhanapala integrated these skills and experiences into successful governmental, diplomatic mission and international organization administration. Dhanapala has an in-depth knowledge of the United Nations gained from 10-years of exposure in working in a senior management capacity in the United Nations. As an efficient and effective senior manager he gained valuable experience in human resource and budgetary management working smoothly with staff representatives and delegations of member states. First, he served as Director (D2) of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva (1987-92) directing policy oriented research in an autonomous think-tank broadening the financial base through fund-raising with a wider group of countries and Foundations.

 He acted to expand the area of research to include non-military threats to security, handbooks to assist delegations to the Conference on Disarmament, providing opportunities for training of researchers from developing countries, networking of research institutes in regions etc. and increasing the volume and impact of UNIDIR publications. He is currently the Senior Adviser to His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.

 Jayantha Dhanapala has spoken out about the reform agenda from the 1990s and is committed to reforming the UN. I met him in 1998 when I attended a UN Conference on Civil Conflict organised by UNIS. During that visit I had the privilege of meeting several Ambassadors – they spoke highly of the Assistant Secretary-General.This candidate is a first class diplomat who made a reputation as a solid UN Manager. The organisation needs someone of Dhanapala’s calibre to take the UN forward. by Ivan Corea

 For further information on Jayantha Dhanapala: www.jayanthadhanapala.com

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