Board of Directors


Professor Emeritus Gamini Keerawella, Ph.D
Executive Director

Prof. Gamini Keerawella joined Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS) in the capacity of its Executive Director on November 16th, 2917. Prior to that he was the Deputy Chief of Mission and later the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington D.C., USA (October 2015 to November 2017). He is an internationally renowned scholar, the former Head and Professor in Modern History at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka who retired from the University in 2015 after 40 years of service. He also worked as the Secretary, Ministry of Ethnic Affairs and National Integration and Mineral Resources Development (2001-2002), the Founder Director of the National Integration Unit (1997-2000) and Advisor to the President on Ethnic Affairs (2002-2005). 

He earned his M.A. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1998 from the University of Windsor and from the University of British Columbia, Canada respectively. His doctoral thesis was on ‘The Superpower Naval Rivalry the Indian Ocean’. Prof. Gamini Keerawella was a recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships: Fulbright Scholar-in-Resident Professorship tenable in the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, USA (2013-2014), Japan Foundation Fellowship at the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo, Japan (2003-04), Scholar-in-Residence, Centre for Theory, Baroda, India (2007), Senior Fulbright Fellowship tenable at the University of California-Berkeley, USA (1991-93), Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, Perth (1991). 
He has over 40 publications to his credit. His area of research includes peace and security in the Indian Ocean, regional security architecture and cooperation in South Asia, identity politics and post-colonial State formation in Sri Lanka. The University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka honored Professor Gamini Keerawella in 2016 with bestowing on him the Emeritus Professorship.


Amal Jayawardane

Professor Amal Jayawardane is Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Colombo, and presently he serves as Senior Professor at the Faculty of Defence and Strategic Studies, Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. Previously he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and the Head of the Department of International Relations, University of Colombo. He was also the sixth Executive Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS) in January, 2009. Formerly, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts (2006-2008) and the Head of the Department of History & International Relations (2001-2006), University of Colombo. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the School of International Service, the American University, Washington D.C., and Research Scholar at the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science.

He has also functioned as a Consultant to the National Integration Programme Unit (NIPU) of the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs and National Integration; member of the Coordinating Committee, Centre for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR), University of Colombo; Co-Director, Centre for Policy Studies and Research (CEPRA), University of Colombo; Member of the Board of Directors, Institute of International Studies (IIS), Kandy; Member, Board of Management, Bandaranaike Centre For International Studies (BCIS) and the Sri Lanka Institute of International Relations (SLIIR). During the period 1994-1997, he served as a Member of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry in respect of Involuntary Removal and Disappearances of Persons. He specializes in Politics in South Asia; Foreign Policy Studies; Human Rights and Peace Studies.


Saba Gul Khattak

Dr. Saba Gul Khattak is currently attached with the World Bank as a Senior Gender Specialist. A former member of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, she is a human rights activist and provides regular policy advice on women’s economic empowerment, governance and refugee issues to the government. Dr. Khattak specializes in comparative politics and her research is a political economy approach to development, feminist and political theory with a focus on state theory. Her work concentrates on issues of women’s economic empowerment, peace and violence, governance issues, refugee issues, and labour rights. She regularly contributes to journals and books and has presented her work in a number of national and international conferences. She is also a former Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Policy Initiative (SDPI).


Dilip Kodikara

Dilip Mohanlal Kodikara is a graduate Mechanical Engineer from the State University of Florida at Miami, USA. Having completed his Bachelor of Engineering in 1990 he returned to Sri Lanka and established Dutch Lanka Trailer Manufacturers (DLT) in 1992. DLT is a heavy engineering company manufacturing transport equipment for the global market.  He was the founding Chairman and Managing Director of DLT until it was sold to TRF, a Tata subsidiary in 2009.  DLT, under the Chairmanship of Dilip Kodikara established and operated many subsidiaries and joint ventures including the Joint Venture Tata International DLT in India, Dutch Lanka Trailers Oman in Salalah, Oman and Dutch Lanka Engineering in Sri Lanka. He is also a founding Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), a non-profit NGO based in Sri Lanka, involved in research on strategic issues in South Asia since 1992. He is currently the Managing Director of Kassapa Leisure Limited (KLL) a start-up company in the tourism industry.


M.G.S Palihakkara

Amb. Palihakkara retired as Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka on 31 Dec. 2006 after 37 years of civil and diplomatic service.  His last diplomatic assignment abroad was as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to United Nations in New York  2008- 2009. He served as a Commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Reconciliation and Lessons Learnt (LLRC). He was the Chairman of UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, United Nations HQ, New York. (2012). H.M.G.S. Palihakkara is also former  Governor of the Northern Province (2015-2016).

He was ambassador to Thailand from 2001 to 2004 (also accredited to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam), and the Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. During the period 2002-2003 he functioned as Actg. Director General/ Deputy Director General of the Sri Lanka Govt. Peace Secretariat (SCOPP). Prior to this, Palihakkara served as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and the Leader of Sri Lanka Delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission and  the Conference on Disarmament, the only UN multilateral negotiating body on international arms control and security matters, (1997-2000).

Palihakkara has previously served a number of multilateral diplomatic assignments at the Sri Lanka Missions accredited to the United Nations in Geneva/ Vienna and New York representing Sri Lanka at deliberations and negotiations related to international peace and security, disarmament, human rights and humanitarian affairs and economic and social affairs.   He was Director General, Multilateral Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Sri Lanka from 1995-1997 covering inter alia work relating to preventive diplomacy, peace building, arms control/disarmament and non-proliferation matters.


Nishchal Nath Pandey

Dr. Nishchal N. Pandey is Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS), a premier think-tank of Nepal. He was Executive Director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he worked for 8 years (1998-2006).

He is Ph.d in political science from Tribhuvan University, M.A. in English and bachelor of law. He was also Advisor to the National Planning Commission for the tourism and civil aviation sectors in 1996-97. He was also task force member to draft the ninth five year plan of Nepal Government. A man of letters, he is author of 3 books published by SAGE and Manohar, New Delhi. Dr. Pandey was Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore in 2006-07 and visiting fellow at the University of Hull, UK in 2009. In Sep. 2013, he was visiting fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), a leading think-tank in Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Pandey’s edited books are:- “New Life within SAARC” (IFA, 2005), “Labour Issues and Foreign Policy” (IFA, 2006), “Nepal as a Transit State: Emerging Possibilities” (IFA, 2006). He is the Co-Editor of “Comprehensive Security in South Asia” (Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 2006). Pandey’s latest co-edited books are: “Nepal’s National Interests” (CSAS-KAS, 2011), “Towards a More Cooperative South Asia (CSAS-KAS, 2012), “SAARC: Towards Meaningful Cooperation” (CSAS-KAS, 2012), “Regional Environmental Issues: Water and Disaster Management” (CSAS-KAS, 2012) and “Nepal’s National Interests” (CSAS-KAS, 2013). He is author of dozens of research papers and articles that have been published in internationally reputed journals, newspapers and magazines.
Dr. Pandey was also International Research committee member of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo and at present Honourary fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), New Delhi. Pandey also teaches at the department of conflict, peace and development studies under the Tribhuvan University.


D.D Pieris

Desamanya M. D. D. Pieris is a graduate of the University of Ceylon (Peradeniya); Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, UK and has been conferred the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the University of Colombo and the title of Honorary Senior Fellow by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine.
His career was in the then Ceylon Civil Service, and later, on the abolition of that service, in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. He had a distinguished career in the public service and held several important posts, including that of Secretary to the Prime Minister; Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, Provincial Councils and Home Affairs; Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Co-operatives; Secretary, Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Chairman and Director General of Broadcasting. He has also acted on several occasions in addition to his duties, in the posts of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs and Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Shipping. He has at various times been the Chairman of the National Institute of Education; Chairman – Board of Management of the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration; and Chairman of the Agrarian Research and Training Institute. He has also served on the Governing Councils or Boards of Management of several Universities and Postgraduate Institutes, including the council of the University of Colombo, the Board of management of the Post Graduate Institute of medicine; the University of Colombo School of Computing; The Council of the Buddhist and Pali University; The Board of management of the Arthur Clarke centre of the University of Moratuwa; and the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology of the University of Kelaniya. He has been a Director of the Peoples’ Bank, the People’s Merchant Bank and a member of the Rural Credit Advisory Committee of the Central Bank. He has served as a member of the National Salaries Commission and as a member of the Presidential Commission on Finance and Banking. Currently, he serves as Deputy Chairman – Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd., is Chairman of the Board of Management of the Institute of Information Technology; on the Board of Directors of L.O.L.C.; the Governing Board of the Regional Center for Strategic studies; on the Board of Management of the Institute of Indigenous medicine of the university of Colombo; and on the Board of Management of the U.C.S.C.

He is also a member of the Academic Affairs Board for Post Graduates Studies of the Sri lanka Institute of Development Administration  (S.L.I.D.A.) Desamanya Pieris also lectures from time to time on invitation, at S.L.I.D.A.; the Defence Services command and Staff College at Sapugaskanda; and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute. He has delivered four convocation addresses at the universities of Colombo; Sri Jayawardanapura; Ruhuna; and the Open university. He has, also on invitation delivered three Memorial Orations: – the Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Oration; the Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam Memorial Oration; and the Vidyajothi Professor V. K. Samaranayake Memorial Oration. He has been conferred the high National honor of DESAMANYA for “Distinguished Service of a highly meritorious nature to the nation”.


Veena Sikri

Professor Veena Sikri is Convener, South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN) and Vice Chairperson, South Asia Foundation (SAF-India). She served as a professor, Ford Foundation endowed Chair, Bangladesh Studies Programme, Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. Prof. Sikri was Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of South East Asian Studies – Singapore (2008-2011); Visiting Professor at the  Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia (2008-2009); and Honorary Adviser, Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia (2007-2008).

She was the High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, December 2003 to November 2006, High Commissioner of India to Malaysia, September 2000 to December 2003 and the Consul General of India, Hong Kong, November 1996 to July 2000. She also served as the Minister (Economic), Embassy of India, Paris (Responsible for Indo-French bilateral commercial and economic relations and interaction with OECD. She further served as the Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Counsellor (Press, Information and Culture), Embassy of India in Moscow, and as the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, New Delhi, October 1983 to December 1984. She has also held positions of First Secretary (Press, Information & Culture) and Head of Chancery, Embassy of India, Kathmandu (Nepal) and First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the UN, New York.