Jayantha Dhanapala

Former UN advisor named to Simons chair

January 24, 2008

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Jayantha Dhanapala, a former Sri Lankan ambassador to the U.S. and UN under-secretary-general for disarmament, has been appointed as the first Simons visiting chair in international law and human security in SFU’s School for International Studies.

The chair, recently endowed by the Simons Foundation, will help advance the complex debate around issues related to globalization, such as foreign relations, human rights, economic development and international security. During his tenure, Dhanapala will teach an undergraduate course on disarmament in international affairs and give a number of public lectures.

“It is a great honour that Jayantha Dhanapala has chosen to bring his tremendous experience and outstanding reputation to SFU,” says John Harriss, director of the School for International Studies. During his distinguished career in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic service, Dhanapala served in New York as chair of the global review of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. His skilful handling of those delicate negotiations caught the attention of then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who subsequently selected Dhanapala to re-establish the Department of Disarmament after the UN reforms of 1997.

According to Canadian diplomat Newton Bowles, in his memoir Diplomacy of Hope, Dhanapala “left a legacy of intellectual rigor and moral commitment as the Under Secretary General for Disarmament in 1998-2003.”

Once a potential successor to Kofi Annan, Dhanapala has more recently served Sri Lankan  president Makinda Rajapakse as a special advisor on the peace process. Most recently, in Nov. 2007, Dhanapala was elected president of the influential Pugwash Conferences on Science and International Affairs. He was also awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Peace Bureau in 2007.

Launched in 2007, SFU’s School for International Studies offers multi-disciplinary teaching on a range of international problems with a focus on international development and human security.
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