October 2006

Sri Lanka’s unsuccessful candidate for the post of UN Chief said yesterday his candidacy had in no way adversely affected the stature of Sri Lanka in the international arena.

“We can all rest content that, although we did not achieve our goal, we conducted a professional and ethical campaign with transparency, dignity and respect. This is neither the time nor the place to analyze the causes for the failure of my campaign,” Jayantha Dhanapala said in a statement.

He said the Sri Lankan government, in close consultation with him, announced his withdrawal from the contest in the interests of securing a consensus around the most likely Asian candidacy of South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon.

“I accept the decision of the international community with all respect and humility. I have already congratulated Secretary-General-elect Ban Ki-Moon — whom I have known for some years — on his victory, wishing him a fruitful tenure of office leading the UN to an ampler fulfillment of the Charter in the achievement of international peace and security, human rights and economic and social development.

Consistent with my long-held convictions I am personally delighted that a career diplomat has been elected from an Asian country which is not a nuclear weapon state and is about the same size and population as the states that have previously provided Secretaries-General to the UN,” Mr. Dhanapala said.

He said he was grateful for the consistent support and strong canvassing for his candidature by the former President, the current President, former Foreign Ministers Lakshman Kadirgamar and Anura Bandaranaike and the present Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. -Daily Mirror


by Namini Wijedasa

Jayantha Dhanapala, who pulled out his candidacy for the post of UN secretary-general, said yesterday that withdrawing had been "the right thing to do at the right moment in the interest of securing a consensus around an Asian candidate".

"Naturally, one is disappointed that the international community did not recognise my experience and qualifications, which were readily conceded by everybody," Dhanapala told the Sunday Island, on his return to Sri Lanka. "It seems to me that decisions (at the Security Council) are more politics-based than merit-based… and I think analysing the politics of it must wait a while."

"I am content that we conducted a very professional, dignified, ethics-based and low-budget campaign focusing on my merits as a candidate," he added. "A withdrawal at this stage was the right thing to do at the right moment in the interest of securing a consensus around an Asian candidate, which has been our principled position from the beginning."

Asked whether the entry of Indian candidate Shashi Tharoor into the race had cobbled his chances, Dhanapala replied: "The absence of a South Asia consensus was certainly a deficiency in my campaign. I don’t think it helped India or Sri Lanka."

He also said that South Korea was a country which had the size and population fitting the profile of countries that have provided secretaries-general in the past.

Dhanapala also had to contend with a concentrated LTTE campaign against him while the political and military situation in the country had attracted considerable attention. "The situation in the country got a disproportionate amount of attention while similar events were also occurring in Kashmir, Assam, Gujarat and southern Thailand," he commented.

"Right now I’m planning to have a long rest," Dhanapala said, when questioned about future plans. "I will continue with my international obligations while mulling over my future plans."

Dhanapala declined to make a more detailed statement—or analysis of the politics behind his poor performance at Security Council straw polls—saying this would come later. "I think it is premature for an analysis of the reasons," he said. "I will make a detailed statement after the election process is completed."

"I would like to thank President Mahinda Rajapakse for his unwavering support of my candidature, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for his hard work and tireless canvassing on my behalf, to the foreign ministry staff led by the able Foreign Secretary S. Palhikaara, and to all our diplomatic missions, especially to those accredited to the UN in New York and Geneva," Dhanapala said.