H. M. G. S. Palihakkara

Hewa Matara Gamage Siripala Palihakkara (born 1947) is a Sri Lankan civil servant, diplomat and former Governor of Northern Province.

H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Samantha Power meets H. M. G. S. Palihakkara 1 crop.jpg
Palihakkara (right) meets Samantha Power in 2015
4th Governor of Northern Province
In office
27 January 2015 – 16 February 2016
Preceded byG. A. Chandrasiri
Succeeded byReginald Cooray
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
In office
August 2008 – August 2009
Preceded byPrasad Kariyawasam
Succeeded byPalitha Kohona
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Thailand
In office
Personal details
Born1947 (age 73–74)
Alma materUniversity of Ceylon, Peradeniya
ProfessionCivil servant

Early life and familyEdit

Palihakkara was born in 1947.[1] After school he joined the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree.[1][2]

Palihakkara is married and has one child.[1][3] He is a Buddhist and is from Matara.[3]


Palihakkara joined the Sri Lanka Overseas Service (the foreign service) in 1979, receiving training in Australia in 1980.[1][2] He then studied international human rights and humanitarian law at the Raul Wallenberg Institute, Lund University.[1][2]

Palihakkara was Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva and an officer at Sri Lanka's UN Mission in New York.[3] He was ambassador to Thailand from 2001 to 2004 (also accredited to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam).[1][3] He was also Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.[1] He was appointed Foreign Secretary on 20 April 2004, retiring on 31 December 2006.[1][3] He served as Director General of government's Peace Secretariat at the same time (he had been deputy chief of the secretariat before being appointed foreign secretary).[2][3]

Palihakkara was appointed Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in August 2008, serving until August 2009.[1][4] During the bitter fighting in the final months of the Sri Lankan Civil War Palihakkara defended the Sri Lankan military at the United Nations Security Council, denying that they had fired heavy weapons into the "No Fire Zone".[5][6]

In May 2010 President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed Palihakkara a member of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.[7][8] Palihakkara appointment was criticised because, as Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he represented the government and defended the actions of the Sri Lankan military during the final months of the civil war when both sides of the conflict are alleged to have committed war crimes.[9][10][11][12]

Newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Palihakkara Governor of Northern Province on 27 January 2015.[13][14][15] He resigned in February 2016.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "New Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka Presents Credentials". United Nations. 25 August 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "President appoints Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission". Policy Research & Information Unit, Presidential Secretariat, Sri Lanka. 17 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "04COLOMBO685, Sri Lanka: New foreign secretary named". WikiLeaks. 21 April 2004.
  4. ^ "'Musical chairs' continue for Sri Lanka's envoys". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 16 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Temporary truce possible if LTTE allows civilians to leave". Hindustan Times. Press Trust of India. 29 March 2009.
  6. ^ Berenger, Leon (29 March 2009). "Rambukwella says Govt. ready to consider 'humanitarian pause'". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).
  7. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Proclamations & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1658/19. 16 June 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation". BBC Sinhala. 17 May 2010.
  9. ^ Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka (PDF). United Nations. 31 March 2011. p. 85.
  10. ^ "ASA 37/015/2010 Sri Lanka: International inquiry needed to address alleged war crimes (Joint Letter to the Lessons Learned & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) on Sri Lanka from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch & International Crisis Group)". Amnesty International. 14 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Sri Lanka: Crisis Group Refuses to Appear Before Flawed Commission". International Crisis Group. 14 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Factual Supplement to the Report to Congress on Measures Taken by the Government of Sri Lanka and International Bodies To Investigate and Hold Accountable Violators of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law". United States Department of State. 4 April 2012. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012.
  13. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1900/09. 2 February 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Austin, Ellawala new Governors". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 27 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Six Provincial Governors take oaths". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 27 January 2015. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  16. ^ T., Ramakrishnan (5 February 2016). "Sri Lanka's Northern Province Governor on the way out?". The Hindu.
  17. ^ Balachandran, P. K. (5 February 2016). "Reginald Cooray Likely To Be Lanka's Northern Province Governor". The New Indian Express.
Political offices
Preceded by
G. A. Chandrasiri
Governor of Northern Province
Succeeded by
Reginald Cooray