Personal Information
Born:29th January 1894
Died:02nd September 1962
Nationality:Sri Lankan
Education:Wesley College, Colombo, Oxford University, UK
Occupation:Civil Servant, Diplomat, Economist
Title:
Spouse:Lylie Corea (Nee Chitty)
Parents:
 
Sir Claude Corea (right) with the Prime Minister of Ceylon Sir John Kotelawala and Viscount Soulbury
 
Sir Claude Corea at United Nations Security Council meeting (1960)
 
 
SIR CLAUDE (G. C. S.) COREA

SIR GEORGE CLAUDE STANLEY COREA (G. C. S. Corea), entered politics and the State Council in 1931. He served as Minister of Home Affairs - State Council of Ceylon (1933) and Minister of Labour, Industry and Commerce - State Council (1936-1946).

The role played by Sir Claude Corea (G. C. S. Corea) as Minister of Labour is described by Kumari Jayawardena & Rachel Kurian, in the following terms: "The Board of Ministers in the 1930s was composed of Ceylonese Ministers elected by the various committess in the State Council. As there was no collective responsibility, policies followed in any ministry were often influenced by the personality of the individual minister. When trade unions began on the plantations, the Minister of Labour was G. C. S. (Claude) Corea of Chilaw, a graduate of Oxford University, who on his return had joined the Ceylon National Congress. Corea, a nephew of the early nationalists, C. E. and Victor Corea, had also been associated with several radical groups including the Progressive Nationalist Party formed by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in 1926, A. E. Goonesinha's Labour Party and also the Youth League movement in 1931. He was elected to the Chilaw seat in the State Council and was appointed Minister of Labour in 1936. The Minister was in agreement with the Colonial Office policy on the need to act with moderation towards trade unions and to prevent violent labour unrest from becoming a political threat to the country. Under the Minister's influence, the Board of Ministers in the State Council recognised that it was necessary to adopt a 'realistic' approach to the growth of trade unions. This approach involved the recognition of collective bargaining and trade union representation in management-labour relations and established clear rules and procedures to be followed in case of differences or labour disputes." - 'Class, Patriarchy and Ethnicity on Sri Lankan Plantations' by Kumari Jayawardena & Rachel Kurian (2015), Orient Black Swan (page 171)

G. C. S. Corea was elected to the presidency of the Ceylon National Congress (CNC) in 1932, 1939 and 1941. On the last occasion, during the Second World War, Sir Claude was adamant that the CNC should not lobbying for “mere constitutional reforms”, but should seek transfer of sovereignty to the people of Ceylon. After the war, Sir Claude served as Chairman of the Board of Ministers' Sub Committee charged with resolving post-war problems.

Later, Sir Claude opted for a career in diplomacy. He served as the First Ceylonese Representative to the Court of St. James, UK (1946), First Ceylonese Ambassador to the United States (1948), High Commissioner for Ceylon to the Court of St. James, UK (1954-1958); he  was given concurrent accreditation to France and the Netherlands in January 1956, Representative of Ceylon to the United Nations (1958), President of the United Nations Security Council (1960). In 1952, while Claude Corea served as Ceylonese Representative in Britain, the Queen bestowed on him, a knighthood.

He attended the 5th Session of FAO in Washington DC from 21 November to 6 December 1949. In conducting post-war relations with Japan, it was Junius Richard Jayewardene (later President Jayewardene), Sir Claude Corea and R. G. Senanayake, who signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan in San Francisco, on behalf of Ceylon (8 September 1951).

He was appointed as Chairman of the UN Interim Committee on International Commodity Arrangements of GATT, at its 10th Session in 1955 - having been associated with GATT from its inception. In August 1956, he participated in the 22-power London Conference that discussed the brewing Suez Crisis, before traveling to China. On 8 September 1956, he arrived in Beijing as Special Ambassador to China, as the head of a Ceylon Government Delegation that was to have preliminary discussions with the Government of the People’s Republic of China, regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations, trade expansion, economic co-operation and cultural exchanges.

Sir Claude chaired the 12th Session of GATT in October 1957, in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Sir Claude Corea became President of the UN Security Council in May 1960; the first ever President of UN Security Council from Sri Lanka. On the first day of his presidency, Francis Gary Power’s Lockheed U-2 plane was forced down onto Soviet territory and he was captured.  The presidential race was under way at this time, and the Democratic contender, Senator John F. Kennedy, visited Sir Claude in his apartment, for consultation.

Sir Claude was a Christian and an old boy of Wesley College, Colombo. He read for his degree at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Sir Claude Corea's family, long associated with the Western coastal town of Chilaw, had played a pivotal role in the independence movement of Ceylon, setting up the hugely influential Chilaw Association. Mahatma Gandhi recognised the role played by the Corea Family when he visited Chilaw in 1927, on his first and only visit to the island.

There are two photographic portraits in the National Portrait Gallery (United States) in Washington, D.C. of ‘Sir (George) Claude Stanley Corea (1894-1962), Ambassador of Ceylon in the USA’ and ‘Carmaine Chitty Corea, wife of Sir G. C. S. Corea’  by Elliot & Fry 1954.)

The John F. Kennedy Library, records that ‘Sir Claude Corea, former Ceylonese diplomat, died on 2 September 1962, in Germany'.



 
 
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