Tilak Ranaviraja

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Tilakaratne "Tilak" Ranaviraja (born December 20th, 1941) is a former senior member of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, who has provided a life of distinguished service to the Government of Sri Lanka, including serving as Senior Advisors to Presidents Maithripala Sirisena and Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunge of Sri Lanka.

During President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunge's tenure, Ranaviraja served as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order[1]; Secretary General, National Peace Council; Member, National Security Council. It was during this time, on December 26, 2004, that the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Asian Tsunamis swept across the Indian ocean, spawned by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. Aside from Indonesia, the island nation of Sri Lanka likely suffered the most casualties, with the death toll reported at 35,322 and displacements of 480,000[2]. As Secretary of Public Security Law and Order at the time, Tilak Ranaviraja mobilized the full weight of the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Without delay, on December 28th, 2004, Ranaviraja was appointed Commissioner General Essential Services, under regulation 11 (1) of the Emergency/Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers by President Kumaratunge to respond effectively to the worst natural disaster crisis faced by the nation[3] and to provide immediate relief and the resettlement of victims. In the aftermath of the Tsunami, Ranaviraja served as the Chairman of the President’s Task Force for Tsunami Relief (TAFOR) and oversaw the rapid construction of 50,000 transitional houses to accommodate displaced persons, and received the UNHCR Humanitarian Award as recognition for his service.

An independent evaluation report titled 'UNHCR’s response to the Tsunami emergency in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, December 2004 - November 2006' states (on page 20, point 78) that "The President displayed considerable leadership in tackling the crisis. Of particular note was the crucial role played by her special representative, Mr Tilak Ranaviraja, in leading and coordinating the shelter recovery and reconstruction efforts"[2].

Early life and education

Ranaviraja was born to Tikiri Banda and Dingiri Menike Ranaviraja. Raised in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and graduated with a B.A. from the University of Ceylon|University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, in 1964.[4] He also holds a Diploma in Business Management from Osaka University in Japan (1977) and a M.Sc. in Business Management from the National Louis University|National-Louis University in Illinois, USA in 1990.


On January 15th, 2015, Ranaviraja was appointed as Senior Advisor to President Maithripala Sirisena[5], and as List of ambassadors of Sri Lanka to France|Sri Lanka's Ambassador to France[6][7], Spain, Portugal[8], Principalities of Monaco[9] and Andorra[10], while concurrently serving as the Bilateral Ambassador to the UNESCO[11] (2015 - 2017).

Ranaviraja has served as Permanent Secretary to Ministries including Public Security Law and Order.[12][13]; Media, Post and Telecommunications; and Ministry of Health, Indigenous Medicine[5] and Social Welfare; Power & Energy, and Mahaweli (River Basin) Development[14]

Additionally, Ranaviraja has served as Chairman of key public sector corporations and regulatory authorities, such as, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Central Environment Authority of Sri Lanka, and as Executive Director of Mahaweli Development Authority.

During 1983 to 1995, he served as the Director General to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, and as Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C., USA[15]

From 1977 to 1983, Ranaviraja served as Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Director, Ministry of Public Administration.

On the international front he had also served as a Consultant and Advisor to the United Nations Development Programme|UNDP, United Nations Environment Programme|UNEP, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees|UNHRC, World Health Organization|WHO and the United Nations Office for Project Services.[14]

In addition to representing the Government of Sri Lanka at international conferences on a wide range of areas of national importance, such as, information technology, water management, energy and environmental conservation, including leading the Sri Lankan Delegation to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference|COP 21)[16][17] in 2015. He was also a member (observer status) of the World Commission on Dams.

Personal life

Ranaviraja is married to Sunethra[18] and are parents to two daughters, Tilanka and Indunil, and a son, Vajira.

In 2011, Ranaviraja donated a sculpture of Henry Steel Olcott, who is known for his work in colonial Sri Lanka, to the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara in Princeton, New Jersey.[15]

See also

  • List of ambassadors of Sri Lanka to France
  • Sri Lanka Administrative Service#Notable members of the SLAS


  1. "Commission to deal with small arms proliferation".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "UNHCR's response to the Tsunami emergency in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, December 2004 - November 2006: An independent evaluation".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "President praises TAP's housing project for tsunami-hit".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "University of Peradeniya: Down scenic memory lanes".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "New presidential Advisors".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja presents New Year greetings to President François Hollande".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "'Sri Lanka – One Island, Thousand Treasures' at 2015 Paris Travel Fair".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja presents credentials to the President of the Portuguese Republic".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja presents credentials to the Principality of Monaco".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja presents credentials as the first Ambassador of Sri Lanka accredited to the Principality of Andorra".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Ambassador Tilak Ranaviraja, Presents Letters of Credentials to the Director General of UNESCO".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "U.S. aids Sri Lanka in terror fight".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "Sri Lankan president launches rebuilding programme after tsunami".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "New Sri Lanka Ambassador Ranaviraja presented Credentials to the President of France".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Franklin Township unveils Olcott statue". The Nation. September 11, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "List of Participants - Framework Convention of Climate Change" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "The Perspectives for COP 22".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "Ambassador Ranaviraja and Mrs. Sunethra Ranaviraja welcome new Ambassadors of Thailand, Japan and Pakistan to France".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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