The prestigious ‘Sri Lankan Of The Year’ award was recently bestowed on high-powered diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala by LMD, at a black-tie event in Colombo. The long-serving ambassador was recognised for the outstanding contribution he has made to the nation in 2006, particularly for the impeccable campaign he ran as a contender for the post of UN Secretary-General.

Dhanapala is the career diplomat who was handpicked by outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to take on the challenging job of Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs. He was mandated to re-establish the Department of Disarmament after the UN reforms of 1997, and headed it from 1998 to 2003.

In addition to the numerous international offices he has held, Dhanapala also served as Sri Lanka’s Secretary-General for Coordinating the Peace Process, until November 2005. He then retired to concentrate on his candidature for post of UN Secretary-General, a campaign he engaged in "with dignity and decorum at all times", according to a spokesperson for LMD. When the fact of his standing for the highest UN office was announced, Dhanapala was a firm favourite – but due to intricacies of the UN system in these globally politically-complex times, he ended up at the rear of the field of main contenders. LMD’s ‘Sri Lankan Of The Year’ then graciously opted out of the race and paved the way for another Asian candidate – Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon –who eventually secured the job. However, as LMD observed at the presentation ceremony, recently – the reality is that in Dhanapala Sri Lanka had (and has) a man with the potential to be arguably the most influential person on the planet!

Despite his withdrawal from the UN race, Dhanapala returned home late last year with some victories, underscores LMD’s forthcoming issue. The widely-read business magazine notes: "Indeed, he didn’t win the race to succeed Kofi Annan as the new Secretary-General of the UN…in fact, he ended up at the rear of the field of main contenders, having started as a veritable firm favourite. It was a year of ups and downs, with the ‘Asian flag’ fluttering incessantly – its turn had come, we were told, even before the starter’s orders…but there were many detractors; amongst them, the most powerful nation on earth."

-The Island

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