SIPRI mourns the passing of Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former Vice Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board and former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs. Ambassador Dhanapala passed away at the age of 85.
Dan Smith, SIPRI Director, said, ‘Jayantha was a monumental figure who has had a lasting impact on the field of non-proliferation and disarmament. He was a skilled diplomat with an astonishingly broad range of knowledge on disarmament affairs.’
Ambassador Dhanapala was an experienced diplomat and non-proliferation expert who began his career in the Sri Lankan Foreign Service in 1965. Throughout his tenure he served in London, Beijing, Washington DC, New Delhi and Geneva. He represented Sri Lanka at several international conferences, chairing many of them including the historic Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference of 1995. A key outcome of this conference was that the NPT was extended indefinitely. As Conference President, Ambassador Dhanapala led a series of informal consultations and created a Presidential Consultation forum. These helped to lead the conference through an impasse and recognize that there was a consensus for the treaty’s indefinite extension.
From 1987–92, he served as Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research and later, as the UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs during 1998–2003. Ambassador Dhanapala was a member of the SIPRI Governing Board from 2006 to 2015 and served as Vice Chair during 2014.