Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam

/Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam
Pic of Dr. NT

Born in 1944, Neelan Tiruchelvam was educated at the University of Ceylon Law School (University of Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Harvard Law School where he completed his doctorate. He was a Fulbright Fellow in 1969-71 and held academic appointments in Sri Lanka and at the Harvard University during the 1970s and 1980s.
His distinguished scholarship and steadfast commitment to social justice led to his appointment as a member of several international election monitoring and expert missions to Pakistan (1988), Chile (1988), Kazakhstan (1992), Ethiopia (1992) and South Africa (1993) The author of many publications on law, social justice and development, he assisted in the evaluation of the draft constitution of Kazakhstan and the review of the constitution-making process in Ethiopia.

Within Sri Lanka he was a member of the Presidential Law Commission and the Presidential Commission on Democratic Decentralisation and Devolution.

Having served in Sri Lanka‚Äôs parliament from 1994 to 1999 as a MP of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), he played a leading role in Sri Lanka’s parliament in many initiatives that included constitutional and legal reform, resolution of the ethnic conflict, human rights, social justice and inter-community understanding. He was a Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform in Sri Lanka and served in the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Finance, Planning and Ethnic Affairs.

Dr. Tiruchelvam was the founder and director of both the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) Colombo, and the Law and Society Trust (LST): two of Sri Lanka’s leading research and policy organizations, and a senior partner at Tiruchelvam Associates, a leading law firm in Sri Lanka.

In his career as a public intellectual, Dr. Tiruchelvam built bridges and sought common ground in a deeply divided society through scholarship, activism and politics. His thoughts and actions were animated by a personal philosophy of humanism, peace and non-violence. Firmly committed to change and reform for resolving deep-rooted problems of the Sri Lankan society, he sought to spearhead transformation through dialogue, tolerance and deliberation.

Dr. Tiruchelvam was assassinated on 29th July, 1999. The Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust (NTT) was established in 2001, two years after his assassination to sustain his intellectual legacy as a peacemaker, legislator, constitutional lawyer and institution builder.