The United Nations Association of Sri Lanka (UNASL) is one of the oldest Non-Government organization in the country and was established on the19th of October1950. Five years prior to Sri Lanka obtaining membership of the United Nations. It is registered as an incorporated body in accordance with the company act No17 of 1982 and under the amendment to this act in 2007.The Association is also registered with the Department of the social services and the NGO council.
The UNASL was admitted to the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA)As the national affiliated in 1951 the WFUNA has a member ship of the about 150 countries and its Headquarters is situated in Gineva
The Head of the states (The Governor General of Ceylon and subsequently the President of Sri Lanka ) has been the patron of the Association, the Prime Minister the Chief Vice Patron and the Speaker and the Leader of the opposition has been the vice patron . The first President of the association was the M.P for Waligama and parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs. Mr Montague Jayawickrama who was appointed at the instance of the prime Minister Rt. Hon D.S Senanayake .This post was held by him since 1970 and then by very eminent citizen of the country.
Miles Stones of United Nations Association Sri Lanka (UNASL)
The UNA of Sri Lanka was founded in December 20th 1950. 5 years before Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) admitted as a member state of United Nation. The Right Honorable Prime Minister Mr. D. S. Senanayake gave him unreserved blessings and support for in setting up UNASL.
The inaugural meeting of UNASL held at “Sravasti” meeting hall. Honorable Major Montague Jayawickrama was unanimously elected as its first President and Yogendra Duraisamy as its first Secretary General. His Excellency the Right Honorable Herewald Ramsbotham, the Governor General was graciously pleased to accept office as the first Patron while Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake became its Chief Vice Patron.
In 1951, the new association gained admission to WFUNA – the world Federation of United Nation Association.
Senator the Honorable Dr. M. V. P. Peiris succeeded the first president of the UNASL and continued until 1970 when Hon. Felix R Dias Bandaranayake, Minister of Justice was elected President with Nihal Jayawickrama Secretary, Ministry of Justice as Secretary General.
At a meeting held (at the Justice Ministry conference room in Haltsdorf in July 1976) Mr. Nihal Jayawickrama was selected unanimously as the President of UNASL. After taking the chair, Mr. Nihal Jayawickrama in his first act as President, proposed the name of Mr. Kumaran Fernando, the author, for the post of Secretary General.
UNA Study Circles project was launched in 1981. This project was converted into a programme in 1990 with the fomal approval of the Minister of Education Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali, who too had been in his student days a Founder Member of UNASL in 1950.
In 1987, Secretary General Javier Perez De Cuellar appointed the UNASL as an official UN “Peace Messenger” the only NGO in the country almost 20 years later to be so honored.
In 1989 the Association was incorporated under the Companies act No. 17 of 1982 and re-registered under the companies act No. 7 of 2007.
In 1991 the UNASL launched its monthly public lecture programme. This lecture programme in still continuing. Ambassadors, Judges, University professors and other resource personnel of various fields have delivered lectures since 1991 to date.
The fiftieth anniversary or golden jubilee of the UNASL was held in 2000 with a message from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who stated in since its birth in 1950, the UNA Sri Lanka has been valuable ally of the United Nations a two- way link between the Organization and the people it exists to serve.
The National Observance of UN Day was held in an unbroken chain of 70 years by UNASL in collaboration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNDP with the participation of school Children Island wide.