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]

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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.

Sri Lanka’s candidate for the powerful post of United Nations Secretary General vowed yesterday he would continue his campaign despite reportedly poor showing in the so-called straw poll conducted among Security Council members last week.

Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Undersecretary General in charge of disarmament, told the Sunday Times that he considered the straw poll as only a preliminary indication process and not a sign of any definitive trend.According to reports from New York, Dr. Dhanapala was placed fourth in the so-called straw poll on Monday after South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon, India’s Shashi Tharoor and Thailand’s Surakiart Sathirathai.

Dr. Dhanapala who only got five votes of encouragement in the straw polls said the race and the process were continuing and he with the support of his country would intensify the campaign. Diplomatic sources in New York were making an educated guess on how the 15 countries in the Security Council could have voted in the straw poll for Sri Lanka’s candidate.

They said the five encouragements for Dr. Dhanapala were from China, Congo, Ghana, Qatar and Tanzania while those who gave a vote of discouragement were Argentina, Denmark, France, Greece, Slovakia and the UK — with Japan, Peru, Russia and US remaining neutral.

Argentina has for long not voted with Sri Lanka, especially after Sri Lanka’s vote with Britain over the Falklands invasion in the 1980s when the entire Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) bloc voted with Argentina.

Peru had thought to play safe, while Russia appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach. Japan and the US have opted to stay clear for the time-being, according to these sources.

Under UN Charter rules, the secretary-general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly under recommendation from the Security Council, with the five permanent members – the US, China, France, Britain and Russia – having veto powers on the issue.

Diplomatic sources said the council hoped to have the appointment wrapped up by October.

-Sunday Times


PK Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, Jayantha Dhanapala, is not discouraged by the fact that he finished last in Monday’s secret straw poll among the 15 members of the Security Council.

"The results are not definitive. The poll gives no indication as to what the ultimate choice will be," Dhanapala told Hindustan Times here on Thursday.

The real vote will be taken only in October. 

Dhanapala said that the number of votes in the "No Opinion" category indicated the possibility of changes in his favour at a later date.

"The early front runners may fall out of favour. And current views may not translate themselves into actual votes," he said. 

In the "secret" poll, the UNSC members had been asked to check mark ballot papers, which only read "Encourage", "Discourage" and "No Opinion".

And there was no way of knowing which country voted for whom, and how the five permanent members, with a veto each, voted.

Dhanapala pointed out that all the four candidates had got "discourage" votes and said that this was pregnant with possibilities.

"If one of the voters in this category is a Permanent Member, it may mean a veto," he said.

"Boutros Boutros Ghali got 14 out of 15 votes, but a veto prevented him from getting selected finally," Dhanapala recalled.

In 1996, the US used its veto to stall Ghali from getting the customary second term.

In the latest straw poll, the front runner was the South Korean Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-Moon, with 12 "encourage" votes, one "discourage" vote and two "no opinion" votes (or 12:1:2).

Sashi Tharoor of India got 10:2:3; Surakiart Sathirathai of Thailand got 7:3:5 and Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka got 5:6:4.

The Colombo-based Daily News on Thursday quoted James A Paul, Executive Director of the New York based Global Policy Forum, which monitors the day to day activities of the UN, as saying that the straw polls were "early exercises" and any speculation based on them would not take one very far.  

However, the US, the most important factor in the United Nations, does not seem to be so dismissive.

Speaking to the media in the UN after the poll, the US envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton said: "The individual candidates who have declared now have to examine these results and decide what their next step is.

And others who have been considering whether to become candidates can look at the results and decide whether they will now enter the race."

Source: Global Order

By Thalif Deen – Inter Press Service

United Nations, 26 July, (IPS): A "straw poll" conducted in strict secrecy behind closed doors — no stenographers, no Secretariat staff — in the 15-member Security Council has left the race still wide open for a new U.N. secretary-general, who is due to take office next January.

The informal poll Monday did not produce a single clear winner because none of the four candidates was able to muster 15 positive votes: a high water mark in Security Council voting.

Still, the front-runner was South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon (with 12 positive votes, one negative vote and two abstentions), followed by U.N. Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor of India (10:2:3); Thai deputy prime minister Surakiart Sathirathai (7:3:5); and Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka (5:6:4).

The 15 Security Council members had to check-mark ballot papers which only read "encourage," "discourage" and "no opinion."

Since none of the ballots was colour-coded — and no distinction made between the five veto-wielding permanent members and the 10 rotating non-permanent members — it was a futile exercise to figure out who voted for whom, and who was danger of being vetoed when the real vote takes place in October.

"These are very early days, the real race may not yet have begun, and the next secretary-general may not yet be in the frame. The dynamics will now change, and let’s see how the situation pans out," a senior U.N. official told IPS Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"I think the only definite or near-definite comment at this stage is that the two lower placed candidates might wish to consider the relative merits of staying in the race or withdrawing with grace," he added.

"I suspect the Thai candidate (who was endorsed by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN) was hurt by the political turmoil in his home country and his lack of previous U.N. experience or involvement," he added.

Positioning oneself too early has also been damaging in the past. It would be very surprising if his withdrawal does not lead to speculative testing of the waters by others from ASEAN.

"Dhanapala was hurt, I expect, by the lack of perennial unity in South Asia, and his age (67) seems to have counted against him. The flare-up of civil war in Sri Lanka will not have helped either," said the U.N. official, speaking less than 24 hours after the results were announced late Monday.

Speaking from Bangkok, Asda Jayanama, the former permanent representative of Thailand to the United Nations, told IPS that his deputy prime minister should withdraw from the race, making way for "a more qualified ASEAN candidate."

"It is not too late for ASEAN to come up with a new candidate," Jayanama said, "and it has a reason to do so now because of the poor showing of its candidate in the straw polls."

In U.N. circles, there has been considerable speculation that if the Thai candidate falters or withdraws, ASEAN may nominate the former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong.

But the Singapore government has made it very clear that Goh is not an official candidate so far, and that it stands by ASEAN’s endorsement of Surakiart.

James A. Paul, executive director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum, which monitors the day-to-day activities of the world body, said: "I would say that the South Korean candidate may be opposed by Japan, which does not have a veto, so it is possible that his candidature faces no veto."

However, judging from the comments of Security Council ambassadors, Paul told IPS, there is no sense that any candidate is close to election at this point.

"These early exercises nearly always lead to further candidates declaring themselves and early candidates losing steam. It is very much like a papal election, in that the world has minimal information," he pointed out.

Paul also said that "speculation, while amusing, does not get us very far."

At this point, he noted, it is better to take the broad view of the process and recognize that the search is on for a pliant and relatively weak candidate whom all the permanent five (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia) can feel comfortable with.

Analysing the chances of the two front runners, the senior U.N. official said that with Tharoor there are many things in his favor, but also some problem areas.

"He knows the United Nations well, and has a varied background within the system, including refugees and peacekeeping. Despite almost three decades as a U.N. official, he has not made enemies: not a small trait."

Tharoor, the official said, is articulate, respectful of power and money yet sensitive to developing country aspirations and sentiments, and is a champion of Asia’s rightful place in the U.N. scheme.

"He is also a genuine believer in the ideals and symbolism of the United Nations and has some intellectual heft. But many regard him as lacking in gravitas, without being able to explain just why," he added.

On the South Korean candidate, he said that Ban has the double attraction of having been a former ambassador and a Foreign Minister of his country.

"But will member states want someone from such a deeply conflicted part of the world? Could he stay above the fray each time the Korean problem comes up for discussion at the United Nations?" he asked.

"It would be nice to believe that members vote on the basis of their assessment of what would be best for the organization. A pessimist can always be pleasantly surprised," the official added.

– Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency-

UNITED NATIONS: The Security Council on Monday held its first secret straw poll on four Asian candidates vying to succeed Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, as UN secretary general.

According to a French news agency, all four candidates to succeed Annan, whose second five-year term expires at the end of the year, are Asian as the consensus here is that it is now Asia’s turn to assume the world body’s top job in line with an unwritten rule of regional rotation.

The candidates are South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, and India’s Shashi Tharoor, a UN undersecretary in charge of communications.

The council’s 15 members were presented with three choices in the secret ballot: encourage, discourage, and no opinion.

Ambassadors of the four countries which fielded candidates were informed of the outcome but there was no official announcement on the results.

"The reason we decided not to make the results public was so that the individual candidates could draw their own conclusions," US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told reporters. "We will see if they draw any conclusion one way or the other once they’ve had a chance to consider these results."

Bolton said the ballot was significant in two key respects: One was the fact that it was held so early in the year with the goal of making a final decision at the end of September or early October.

The second was precisely that it may now lead to a decision "either for additional candidates to enter the race or for one or more candidates in the race to drop out based on their own assessment of how the vote went."

France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, the council president for July, stressed that there was no differentiation between the votes of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the council and those of the 10 non-permanent members.

Both Bolton and de La Sabliere said there was no decision on whether or not to hold another straw poll.

Under UN Charter rules, the secretary general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly under recommendation from the Security Council, whose five permanent members — the United States, China, France, Britain and Russia — have veto power.

In practice, the five permanent members have dominated the secretary general succession process. Bolton meanwhile noted that with all the talk of regional rotation, it was "striking there’s so little talk of gender rotation."

"We’ve had one gender (in charge of the UN for 60 years). Maybe people ought to consider that as well," he added.

Source: Global Order