Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe

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Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe
President of the United Nations General Assembly
In office
1976–1976
Preceded by Gaston Thorn
Succeeded by Lazar Mojsov
Ceylon's Ceylon's High Commissioner to India
Ceylon's Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Personal details
Born 18 March 1913
Colombo, Ceylon
Died 4 December 1980(1980-12-04) (aged 67)
Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lankan
Alma mater University of London,
University College Colombo,
Royal College, Colombo
Occupation diplomat, civil servant
Profession Ceylon Civil Service

Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe, CCS (18 March 1913 – 4 December 1980) was a Sri Lankan diplomat and civil servant. He was the Ceylon's High Commissioner to India and concurrently Ambassador to both Nepal and Afghanistan (1963–1967) and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance & Treasury and the Ministry of Health. Amerasinghe served as Ceylon's Permanent Representative to the United Nations 1967 to 1980 and served as President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1976. He was also one of the leaders of the negotiations to draft the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Education[edit]

Born in Colombo, on 18 March 1913. He was educated at Royal College Colombo and went to the University College Colombo, then affiliated with University of London, as an external student, he took a first class honours B.A. degree in Western Classics in 1934.

Career[edit]

Civil Service[edit]

Amerasinghe joined the prestigious Ceylon Civil Service in 1937, starting a career that would span 44 years. As a civil servant he was appointed Resident Manager of the Gel Oya Development Board in 1950. Two years later he was sent on his first overseas appointment as Counsellor of Embassy of Ceylon in Washington, D.C. from 1953 to 1955. From 1955-1957, he was the Controller of Establishments, General Treasury; 1958, he became the Controller of Finance, Supply and Cadre, General Treasury; and, in the same year, was appointed as the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Nationalized Services and Road Transport, as well as Chairman of the Port (Cargo) Corporation.

In 1961, Amerasinghe became Secretary to the Treasury and Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Finance, holding that post until 1963, while also serving as Official Member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank and Alternate Governor for Ceylon in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

In 1963, he was appointed Ceylon High Commissioner to India, while serving concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal and Afghanistan, posts he held until moving to the United Nations in 1967.

United Nations[edit]

Amerasinghe was appointed Ceylon's Permanent Representative to the UN in 1967, a post he would hold until 1980. At the UN he held several key positions. These included Chairmanship of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction, President of the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and Chairman United Nations Sea-Bed Committee. Amerasinghe was also the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean, which Sri Lanka proposed be designated as "zone of peace". He has chaired that Committee since it was created in 1973. Also, since its creation in 1969, he has been Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories.

In 1976 he became the President of the United Nations General Assembly Thirty-first session of the general assembly.

While serving as Permanent Representative, he held concurrent accreditation as Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Brazil.

He was reelected chairman of the Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1980, after he had left Sri Lanka's delegation to the United Nations. The Economist styled him the two million dollar chairman, because that's what the ten day conference cost.[1]

Death[edit]

He died on 4 December 1980 in Sri Lanka. For his services for the Law of the Sea, a fellowship in his name has been created by the UN.[2]

See also[edit]

References and External links[edit]

  1. ^ Gunawardena, Charles A. (2005). Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka (Revised ed.). Elgin, Illinois: New Dawn Press Group. pp. 14–15. ISBN 19327 054 81. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  2. ^ de Silva, Neville (4 July 2010). "When Ambassador Amerasinghe upset the Egyptians". The Sunday Times (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Wijeya Newspapers Ltd). "Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN at the time was the controversial and flamboyant Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe who had moved to New York from his posting as our High Commissioner to New Delhi. The silver-haired and sharp-nosed Shirley was easily distinguishable by the red rosebud he wore regularly in his buttonhole. He was selected to head this Committee which the West, especially the US, saw as an anti-Israeli move orchestrated by the Arabs trying to regain some mileage after the disastrous effects of the Six-Day War of June 1967 in which Israeli forces scored a decisive military victory. It was a critical time for Shirley Amerasinghe whose name was being mentioned as a possible candidate for the UN Secretary-General’s post soon to be vacated by the respected U Thant of Burma. As far as the West was concerned Shirley was a tainted man. He was etched in the collective western mind as pro-Arab. Shirley the classicist’s verbal duels with the Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban, a brilliant orator and fluent in 10 languages, was looked-forward to at UN sessions, according to UN-wallahs of the day. Some of the non-aligned nations that were rooting for Shirley Amerasinghe as Secretary General were rather fearful that his chairmanship of a committee which was already characterized as anti-Israel in particular and anti-western in general, would ruin his chances in the run-up to a contest for the top job. In the event it never came to such an election and Shirley Amerasinghe was later to stamp his competence and tenacity by steering the fractious Law of the Sea Conference to its conclusion. After his death in 1980, the UN established a fellowship in his name for the sterling work he did on the Law of the Sea." 
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
?
Counsellor, Embassy of Ceylon in Washington, D.C.
1953–1955
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
Gaston Thorn
President of the United Nations General Assembly
1976
Succeeded by
Lazar Mojsov
Preceded by
?
Ceylon's High Commissioner to India
1963–1965
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ceylon's ambassador to Nepal
1963–1965
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ceylon's ambassador to Afghanistan
1963–1965
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ceylon's Permanent Representative to the UN
1967–1980
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
?
Ceylon's ambassador to Brazil
1973–?
Succeeded by
?