Sri Lanka is making an unprecedented run in four major elections at the United Nations this year: the post of UN Secretary-General, a member of the International Law Commission and a seat in each of the two newly-created UN bodies, Human Rights Council and Peacebuilding Commission.
`The only election it is not contesting,` jokes a Sri Lankan UN staffer, `is for a veto-wielding, permanent seat in the Security Council, along with Japan, India, Germany and Brazil.`
The elections for the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission -- two crucial UN bodies -- are expected to take place next month. The election for the International Law Commission is scheduled for September, with Rohan Perera, Legal Adviser to the Foreign Ministry, as the Sri Lankan candidate for a job with a five-year term in office. Currently, he chairs the UN Ad hoc Committee on Terrorism.
The biggest single prize, however, will be the post of Secretary-General, with Jayantha Dhanapala as Sri Lanka`s officially declared candidate. The elections are likely to take place around September or October. But the race remains wide open, with the five permanent members of the Security Council -- namely the US, Britain, France, China and Russia -- expected to play a decisive role in the election.
Sri Lanka is already a member of the UN`s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and holds the post of vice chairman through 2008. Sri Lanka is also a life-time chair of two other committees created in the 1960s: the UN Ad hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean (which is likely to be axed soon as part of a cost-cutting measure) and the Israeli Practices Committee (which monitors human rights violations in Israeli occupied territories).
Sri Lanka`s Permanent Representative Prasad Kariyawasam, who was re-elected chairman of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers through 2009, is also chair-designate of the upcoming UN Review Conference on Small Arms scheduled to take place in June/July this year.
Additionally, Sri Lanka is in the Governing Boards of both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, while also being a member of the Executive Board of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris.