Replacing Kofi Annan

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.

by Jayantha Dhanapala

There are two contrasting job descriptions of the post of Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations which falls vacant at the end of this year. One is by the first incumbent of this position, Trygve Lie of Norway, who famously called it "the most impossible job in the world". The other is by the first, and so far only, Asian SG – U Thant of Myanmar (formerly Burma) – who wrote, "The Secretary-Generalship is not the most impossible job in the world, although it is certainly one of the most difficult. It is without any question one of the most rewarding."

It would be all too facile and fallacious to draw conclusions from this contrast. It is not a question of hardheaded Western pragmatism versus philosophical Eastern equanimity. Both men worked at the UN during the Cold War era. Trygve Lie was forced to resign because of Soviet antagonism while U Thant declined unanimous offers of a third term. Was it because U Thant was content to be more Secretary than General or was he a more consummate diplomat harmonizing the competing interests of the two super-powers of the time?

Today, times have changed. The Cold war is over. Yet we do have the countervailing imperatives of a unipolar world on the one hand, with one super power possessing an accumulation of military, political, economic and ‘soft’ power on a global scale that is unprecedented in human history. On the other hand, we have a globalized world of rising expectations in a highly integrated political and economic world order where multilateralism is an indispensable foreign policy option for the mighty and the meek and for the rich and the poor. At the apex of this multilateral system is the 61 year old United Nations politically paralyzed when the Permanent Five of the Security Council (P5) disagree – as in the case of Iraq in 2003 – but remarkably effective when they do agree. Based on universally shared values the UN has set and monitored the implementation of norms in a wide range of fields from human rights to international trade. It has been at the forefront in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, development policy and many other areas affecting the daily lives of people.

So how important is the choice of the next SG of this world body that everybody wants to reform? Some loudly lament the absence of a formal job description. Do we make the incumbent more effective by spelling out his complex duties? How many incompetent Presidents or unpopular Prime Ministers would have performed better if their written or unwritten constitutions had fleshed out their functions? Do the times determine the job or does the jobholder influence the manner in which the duties are discharged? What qualifications and experience are we looking for or is it, as one veteran UN observer has recently written, mainly a matter of "character and potential"? And if so how do you judge that? By common consent no one has enlarged the scope and stature of the job as much as Dag Hammarskjold (1953-61) did. Was his exemplary character pre-judged? Succeeding him, U Thant (1961-71) brought the UN into calmer waters despite the Vietnam War focussing on what the UN can do rather on what it could not. Was it foreseen that he would be the SG that he turned out to be?

Then there is the procedure for the election on which many views have been expressed. Should it be more transparent and should not the General Assembly have more control? Should the candidates present manicured manifestos and engage in a US Presidential campaign style extravaganza or should they be shrinking violets waiting coyly in the wings till the call comes?

All pertinent questions. Today, those disillusioned by the sullied reputation of the UN seek a Superman as the next SG. The media speculates wildly about past Presidents and current Prime Ministers forgetting that those elected on national mandates are more likely to be Generals than Secretaries. The UN system has already had many such square pegs in round holes. Perhaps what the UN needs today is what it has always needed – a SG who is a tried and tested diplomat with versatility and gravitas derived from experience, a flexible and modest temperament and the limitless patience of a consensus builder. We need someone who will be more of a steady moral compass than a flamboyant political weathercock. History has proved that the Charter’s Article 100 requirement for impartiality is more achievable with the citizens of smaller countries with the least amount of accompanied national baggage of territorial and other disputes in their international relations. We need a strong manager who will delegate and yet be finally the person where the buck stops. And yes – even if it is an oxymoron – we need a practical idealist.

The limitations of the job are well known. 192 sovereign states are unlikely to yield more power or latitude to the office of the SG. Nor will the Security Council be pursuaded to act speedily however often and urgently the SG draws their attention to situations threatening international peace and security under Article 99. Resources will remain unpredictable and limited. Smooth relations with the host country and largest contributor to the Budget are a sine qua non. The SG will remain the lightning conductor when things go wrong whether it is because of what the Security Council, General Assembly or some other part of the complex UN system did or did not do.

The choice will be made in a few weeks. Already some transparency in the process is evident as candidates are scrutinized by civil society and the media. And yet doubts remain about the process. Will new candidates enter the race dodging critical appraisal? Will the choice be made on the basis of realpolitik among the P 5? Will bilateral relations and the propensity for building strategic partnerships, enhanced economic investment, aid and trade between the voter country and the voted individual’s state be the criteria? Or will it be confined to the record of achievements and proven abilities of the candidates? Only time will tell.

(Jayantha Dhanapala is Sri Lanka’s candidate for the post of Secretary-General. He is a former Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the USA and a former UN Under-Secretary-General)

via… The Island

“ is the website of a campaign organized by a group of Non-governmental organisations calling for a more democratic, transparent and effective selection process that will ensure the appointment of the most qualified candidates as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Among the NGOs are Amnesty International, Third World Network, Equality Now and the World Federalist Movement – Institute of Global Policy. On August 11 a Questionnaire of 14 groups of questions was submitted by them to all four declared candidates. Jayanatha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka was the first to respond followed by India. The responses of the other two candidates are still being awaited.

Here are the questions and answers from Jayantha Dhanapala. (more…)

Jayantha Dhanapala was instrumental in taking the peace process where no Sri Lankan had taken it before. It was a pity his policy initiative was compromised by political expediency. Could his candidature for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations also be subjected to similar forces, courtesy global politics? In LMD’s latest issue, Dr. Jehan Perera, Executive Director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, highlights Dhanapala’s contribution to peace in Sri Lanka. And the business magazine’s August edition, out now, underscores just why Dhanapala would be the most eligible candidate to hold the UN’s top post.

When the diplomat with over four decades of experience took over the leadership of the government’s Peace Secretariat in May 2004, the peace process was heading for disaster. The LTTE had pulled out of peace talks a year earlier – and it had commenced a vicious strategy of assassinating its Tamil political opponents and members of the government’s intelligence apparatus. It had presented an ambitious document for regional self-rule sans the central government. Compounding this negative scenario, the general election of April 2004 had been largely fought on the issue of the peace process. The victorious United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) campaigned on a platform that was critical of the peace process. The alliance highlighted its deficiencies as being unilaterally beneficial to the LTTE. It also accused the former government of having betrayed the country.

As Perera, a highly respected peace Analyst, observes in LMD: "But two unexpected events turned the situation around. The first was the appointment of Sri Lanka’s leading international diplomat to be the Director-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP). This appointment provided a measure of hope that the government was putting forward the country’s best intellectual resources to serve the cause of peace. Dhanapala’s UN experience, combined with his professionalism and integrity, meant that Sri Lanka had a world-class negotiator taking on the LTTE. However, the hoped-for breakthrough in the peace process was not immediate."

The LMD writer also points out in the magazine’s current edition that the international donor community pushed the Sri Lankan parties to work together towards a negotiated settlement. "It took nearly six months of hard work; but eventually, Dhanapala and his team of negotiators succeeded in reaching an agreement with the LTTE on a joint mechanism for tsunami relief: the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS). This was only the second agreement ever to be signed between the government and the LTTE, the first being the (Ceasefire Agreement) CFA of 2002.The signing of the P-TOMS agreement heralded a possible new phase for the peace process," Perera comments.

"Another major achievement was the marked shift in the attitude of the LTTE, which occurred in the course of the negotiations with Dhanapala and his team of negotiators. A comparison between the P-TOMS and the LTTE’s proposed ISGA proposal showed a vast difference," expounds LMD. [Via… The Island]

Sri Lanka’s widely known International Civil Servant and Senior Presidential Advisor, Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, is Sri Lanka’s only candidate for the position of UN Secretary General. This truth goes unquestioned in Sri Lanka and among knowledgeable circles abroad and almost the entirety of this country-including the State – could be said to be staunchly backing Dhanapala’s candidacy for the UN’s top job.

We need to reiterate this truth, lest ideas to the contrary be circulated by some misinformed and misguided persons.

If there are pretenders to the candidacy we hope their minds would be disabused of this false notion. Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala is Sri Lanka’s choice for the post of UN Secretary General and there could be no other. This is the stark truth and we hope there would be no quibbling in any quarter about it.

Long before the current race to succeed the incumbent UN Secretary General Kofi Annan got underway, Dhanapala had distinguished himself as a diplomat and International Civil Servant.

His skills as a disarmament expert won for him the position of UN Under Secretary General for Disarmament from 1998 to 2003. Besides, his knowledge of international politics and of the Humanities is both profound and varied.

He served with great distinction as a diplomat in numerous of Lanka’s missions abroad before joining the UN system. As is well known, Dhanapala was UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s choice in 1997 for dealing with the complex subject of UN reform.

In short, Dhanapala’s credentials are beyond question. He has done Sri Lanka proud and is this country’s unquestioned choice for the post of UN Secretary General, which position would soon fall vacant on Kofi Annan completing his second term as UN Chief.

We wish to remind all concerned that Dhanapala needs our unqualified support and endorsement. Undermining his candidacy would be tantamount to violating the will of the State and of the people. Let us all espouse his cause as one man and not be guilty of engaging in anything approaching treachery and betrayal.

The matter of Dhanapala’s candidacy is something that was considered settled by the State quite some time back. His candidacy has received the blessings of all who matter.

What is left to be done by the Lankan State and the public is to explore every means of promoting Dhanapala’s candidacy. It should be ensured that Dhanapala wins the eminent position he is vying for.

Our front page news story yesterday quoting no less a person than the President’s Secretary should help to defuse all doubts and reservations on this question, if there are any in any quarter. Sri Lanka’s Jayantha Dhanapala must win and we call for a united advocacy of his candidature.

Via… Daily News Editorial

COLOMBO: Former UN Under Secretary General Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala is Sri Lanka’s only candidate to the coveted UN top post, President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga asserted yesterday.

Weeratunga said Dhanapala is the only candidate nominated by Sri Lanka for the UN Secretary General’s post which will fall vacant after the current head’s second and final term expires in November.

He said: "There are no other candidates".

It is broadly accepted that an Asian candidate should be elected to head the UN this time, although the big countries have not officially agreed to this principle.

Foreign Secretary S. Palihakkara also confirmed the Presidential Secretary’s statement that there were no moves by the Government to nominate a second candidate.

Palihakkara said: "The Government of Sri Lanka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa has stated very clearly that Dhanapala is the only candidate from Sri Lanka."

The four Asian states which are contesting for the top UN post submitted their nominations as early as June.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon, Indian candidate, serving UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Sri Lankan Candidate, Senior Presidential Advisor Jayantha Dhanapala are the only official candidates in the race.

However, some 30 more names including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton have been suggested and are speculated to enter the fray, to head the most powerful organisation in the world.

Dhanapala served as the UN Under Secretary General for disarmament from 1998 to 2003.

He was handpicked by Kofi Annan to take over the challenging job after UN reforms in 1997.

Source: The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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