Special Tribute Seminar in Honour of Dr. Gamani Corea, 20 March, 2014

Special Tribute seminar in commemoration of the life and intellectual legacy of Dr. Gamani Corea of Sri Lanka (UNCTAD Secretary-General 1974-1984 and South Centre Board Chair 2001-2002) took place on 20 March 2014, 1500-1800h, Room XXV, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

The special tribute was opened by H.E. Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, Chairperson of the Board of the South Centre with speeches by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General of UNCTAD (Represented by Dr. Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies (GDS)) and H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Pandukabhaya Aryasinha, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.


The Executive Director of the South Centre, Mr. Martin Khor (left) moderates the opening session with participation of H.E. Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha; Mr. Rubens Ricupero and Dr. Richard Kozul-Wright.


The first session entitled Tribute to Gamani Corea: life and work was led by Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, Former Secretary General of UNCTAD (1995-2004) and Mr. Chakravarthi Raghavan, Emeritus Editor of the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS).

The second session on “The intellectual legacy of Gamani Corea” was moderated by Professor Deepak Nayyar, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Member of the Board of the South Centre. Speakers included Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS);  Mr. Michael Sakbani, former Director of the Division of Economic Cooperation, Poverty Alleviation, and UNCTAD`s Special Programs; Mr. Gerassimos Arsenis, former Director of the Money, Finance and Development Division/UNCTAD and former Minister of Finance and President of the Central Bank of Greece; Mr. Jan Pronk, former Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD and former Minister of Development Cooperation and Environment of the Netherlands; Mr. Michael Zammit Cutajar, former UNCTAD staff and former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


Mr. Deepak Nayar moderates session on the intellectual legacy of Dr. Gamani Corea with speakers including Mr. Gerassimos Arsenis; Mr. Michael Sakbani; Mr. Jan Pronk; Mr. Michael Zammit Cutajar and Dr. Saman Kelegama.


The life and legacy of Gamani Corea

Dr. Gamani Corea passed away in Sri Lanka on 3 November 2013. Dr. Corea started his career at the Central Bank in Sri Lanka where he later became director of economic research. He was also the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs playing a key role on Sri Lankan economic policy. In 1963 he was invited by Raul Prebisch to join the team involved on the preparation of the first UNCTAD Conference in 1964, an organization which he served later as Secretary General from 1974 to 1984.

Dr. Gamani Corea was also instrumental for the establishment of the Group of 77 and later in the 90s, the South Centre having previously served as member of the South Commission (1987-1990) and a decade later as member and chair of the Board of the Centre (2002 to 2003). Dr. Corea promoted domestic and international economic policies aimed at the benefit of the poor and of the developing countries. He contributed to reinforce unity among nations of the South and their position in multilateral negotiations.

Dr. Corea introduced the Integrated Programme for Commodities – commonly known as the Corea Plan, one of his finest achievements that have led to the establishment of the Common Fund for Commodities. The influence of Dr. Corea on the decision to establish the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative is also another of his accomplishment having previously chaired the Expert Group of the Non-Aligned Movement on Third World Debt which served as the basis for the HIPC initiative. He was a strong proponent of a New International Economic Order (NIEO), and under his tenure, UNCTAD experienced one of the most active periods of its history.

The special tribute seminar of the South Centre not only to paid a tribute to this eminent South thinker but also debated the intellectual thinking going beyond Dr. Gamani Corea’s legacy as many of his ideas and thoughts are a timely element for our debates in search of alternatives to the current developmental challenges the Global South is facing today. The South Centre will release a book with the contributions received.

This South Centre event was organized with the support of the Permanent Mission of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at Geneva and hosted by UNCTAD.



Concept Note and Agenda in PDF




15:00-15:30 Opening remarks 


15:30-16:30 Tribute to Dr. Gamani Corea: life and work


16:30-17:45 The intellectual legacy of Dr. Gamani Corea


17:45-18:00 Concluding remarks    


Further Contributions Received



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