The Sri Lankan High Commissioner for the UK, His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis, was awarded the “Diplomat of the Year” for Asia, at the Annual Diplomat Awards Ceremony at the Langham Hotel in London last night, in the presence of the Diplomatic Community. This is the first time a Sri Lankan High Commissioner has won this award, which is chosen from the 164 Embassies and Diplomatic Missions in London.
Hugo De Blocq Van Kuffeler in his introduction to the Diplomat Awards ceremony stated that
“Yet another year has passed us, leaving us at an extraordinary time in world history, more complex and challenging trials for its citizens to cope with, and for its Diplomats to resolve. In a year that has seen dramatic shifts in International power, it appears that the modern Diplomat needs to be an expert in conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, climate change as well as government PR and Nation branding. The scale of global challenges facing us today, economic, social, environmental, and security weigh upon us all. There has been more states in conflict in the past 12 months since the 2nd World war, and yet Diplomacy is more important than ever. Governments must believe that diplomacy should displace defence at the core of International policy, and so the role of the diplomat is as important as ever. Despite the conveniences of modern technology, the tact, persuasiveness, influence and guile, of a great Diplomat is far more effective than an email or letter. Diplomacy is the brain of a Nation. It is been said that the quality of a Nation’s diplomacy is its direction and weight, and so it is important that we appreciate the great conductors of Diplomacy this evening. Already dealing with one of the most intense workloads in 2012, Diplomats posted in London will face a year when almost every country will have a delegation visiting the capital for Her Majesty's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and London's 2012 Olympics.
Tonight, we are celebrating the exceptional minds who are trying to better their Nations’ wellbeing, all this not to win votes but in pursuit of a harmonious world. These are the Diplomats of the 164 nations represented in London today, who we will continue to support with Diplomat magazine throughout 2012. This award ceremony recognizes the outstanding work and achievements of the Diplomatic Community in London. In our fourth year we have identified 12 categories recognizing different aspects of diplomacy. I would like to thank the judges from the Diplomatic community who helped us wade through some very lively debate to resolve difficult decisions in all categories. Thank you also to all the Diplomats who sent in over 300 nominations which were analyzed and made the judging process a complex one.
On introducing H.E. Dr. Chris Nonis, Hugo De Blocq Van Kuffeler stated,
“Our next award goes to the “Diplomat of the Year” from Asia. Representing an Island State with big challenges, this Head of Mission is an example of exemplary hard work which has developed the State to State relationships his Country relies on. The youngest Head of Mission appointed by his country to the UK, he is also a qualified doctor, an academic, and is Chairman of a large Conglomerate employing over 8000 people. He currently holds key roles in various Commonwealth organizations, all part of the tapestry that has given him such a rounded view of International relations. This Diplomat represents a Nation that has promised an innovative reconstruction focusing on the future by fully mobilizing its signature strength, a resilient and inclusive society at the start of a new era. He is, of course, the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, His Excellency Dr. Chris Nonis.”
H.E. Dr. Chris Nonis in his acceptance speech stated,
“Your Excellencies, Lords, Ladies & Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to accept this award, and I am deeply humbled and extremely privileged to have been nominated by the International community, and this award is not only for me, but for my Country and my People.
I must first thank His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the trust and confidence that he has placed in me at this extremely important Mission in London, and the Minister for External Affairs, Hon. Prof. G.L. Peiris. I also take this opportunity to thank all the members of staff at the Sri Lankan High Commission, because it is you who are the Ambassadors and High Commissioners for Sri Lanka, and without you I couldn't have achieved what I have achieved in these eight months.
I also take this opportunity to remember my late parents, my wonderful mother & father, and my grandparents, for instilling in me their principles and values, and an enormous depth & breadth of understanding of people, and also my sisters Kshama, Nimi, & Shelly, who have always been there for me during the difficult times as well as good times, and my friends, who have always been there to support me. What they have instilled in me is a respect and understanding for the diversity of people, indeed the beauty of people is that we are all different, and that is what makes us human. We may all have faults and constraints, and challenges, but we all try. I believe that it is when we respect each other's diversity, that we provide each other with dignity, and it is when we provide each other with dignity, that we ensure that throughout the International Community we will live in peace and harmony.
After 28 years of bitter conflict we finally achieved peace in our Country. The people of Sri Lanka are now free of the autocracy and hegemony of terrorism, and we achieved that peace under the leadership of HE President Mahinda Rajapaksa. We now have a historic and unique opportunity to make that transition from Developing to Developed nation, as we build a truly pluralistic society. We are firmly embarked on a comprehensive rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reconstruction programme in our Country and we are indeed building an inclusive society.
As I have always said, “I am not Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, or Burgher, I am Sri Lankan, and I am proud to be Sri Lankan. I am particularly proud to be Sri Lankan on this day, because by winning this award the entire International Community has given an index of confidence in our country. I thank you and I invite you all to join in Sri Lanka's Renaissance.”
Sri Lanka High Commission
25th April 2012