Jayantha Dhanapala

Jayantha Dhanapala
Born (1938-12-30) 30 December 1938
Nationality Sri Lanka
Alma mater Trinity College, Kandy
University of Peradeniya
Occupation Diplomat
Spouse(s) Maureen
Children Kiran (Daughter)
Sivanka dhanapala (Son)
Awards Sean MacBride Prize
Website http://www.jayanthadhanapala.com/

Jayantha Dhanapala (born 30 December 1938) is a Sri Lankan diplomat who serves as member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists[1] and a governing board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.[2] Dhanapala is also the Senior Special Advisor on Foreign Relations to President Maithripala Sirisena, and was Sri Lanka's official candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations, before withdrawing from the race on 29 September 2006. From 2007 he has been the President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.[3]

Early years in Sri Lanka

Dhanapala was born in Sri Lanka on 30 December 1938. His family hails from the town of Matale. Dhanapala was educated at prestigious Trinity College in Kandy. He gained a reputation as an all rounder as a schoolboy and was awarded the Ryde Gold Medal in 1956. At the age of 17 Jayantha Dhanapala won a contest with an essay titled "The World We Want" and travelled to the US where he met Senator John F. Kennedy and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Diplomatic career

He entered the Sri Lankan diplomatic service and served in London, Beijing, Washington, D.C., New Delhi and Geneva. Dhanapala was appointed Ambassador in Geneva (1984–87)he was also accredited to the UN and was appointed Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States of America based in Washington D.C. from 1995-97.

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.The New York Times observed that Jayantha Dhanapala 'was a diplomat mostly unknown outside the arms-control world until he was elected to preside over this conference.'

Under-Secretary-General at the UN

Dhanapala was hand picked by UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan to take on the challenging job of Under Secretary General to re-establish the Department of Disarmament after the UN reforms of 1997 (1998–2003). During his tenure he piloted the UN role in arresting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, anti-personnel landmines, conventional weapons, and weapons of mass destruction while reinforcing existing norms and norm-building in other areas such as missiles. He also broke new ground both in-house in taking managerial initiatives in gender mainstreaming and in work-life issues, as well as in the disarmament field by innovating the exchange of weapons for a development programme in Albania and other areas, and also in the cross-sectoral linking of disarmament with development, the environment and peace education programmes.

Dhanapala was appointed Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) in Sri Lanka from 2004 - 2005. He was also Senior Special Advisor to both Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapakse during the period 2005-2007. Senior Special Advisor on Foreign Relations to President Maithripala Sirisena 12 January 2015

Candidate for the post of UN Secretary-General

Sri Lanka's civil war hobbled Dhanapala's candidacy for United Nations Secretary-General. The opposition parties in Sri Lanka joined hands with the government on the day that his candidacy was announced.

Honors and Awards


Jayantha Dhanapala with R. Rydell, Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, 2005

Jayantha Dhanapala (ed.), Geneva: UNIDIR, 1993, published for UNIDIR by Dartmouth (Aldershot)


  1. Archived April 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Stockholm International Peace Research Institute". Sipri.org. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  3. "Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs". Pugwash.org. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
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