John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) yesterday announced the appointment of Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy as an Independent Non-Executive Director of the company with effect from 1 October.
Dr. Coomaraswamy received her BA from Yale University, LLM from Harvard University and the Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Columbia University. She served as UN Under Secretary General and as Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict from 2006 until her retirement in 2012.
Earlier, from 1994 to 2003, she was the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, an independent expert, attached to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. In 2014, the UN Secretary General tasked her to lead the Global Study to review the 15-year implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The Global Study was submitted to the Secretary General in October 2015.
In Sri Lanka, Dr. Coomaraswamy was the Chairperson of Human Rights Commission from 2003 to 2006 and was a Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies from 1984 to 2006. In this capacity she helped direct its research program on constitutional law, human rights, ethnicity and cultural studies as well as women’s rights.
She was, until September 2018, a civil society member of the Constitutional Council, a body appointed by Parliament and the President, to primarily make appointments of members to serve on the independent commissions and the higher judiciary, in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Coomaraswamy is a Global Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law where she has taught courses on Women’s International Human Rights and Children and Armed Conflict. She taught at New College, Oxford University in its Summer Programs on International Human Rights during the 1990s and the early 2000s. She has also been a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Law in Colombo of the University of Colombo.
Dr. Coomaraswamy has received Honorary Doctorates from Amherst College, University of Edinburg, University of Ulster, City University of New York and Rutgers University among others. During her career she has also received international Human Rights Awards, the International Law Award of the American Bar Association, the Bruno Kreisky Award, the Human Rights Award of the University of Oslo, among many others. She was also privileged to be asked to deliver the Grotius Lecture of the American Association of International Law in 2013.
Dr. Coomaraswamy has written books on constitutional law and many articles on women, ethnicity, pluralism, human rights and children, cultural studies and armed conflict. In 1995, in recognition of her services to the country, President of the Republic of Sri Lanka conferred on her the National honour of Deshamanya – “jewel of the nation”.