Harshani Dharmadasa

Senior Director, Global Partnerships and Initiatives

Harshani Dharmadasa is a seasoned professional spanning over 15 years in human rights law, international development, public policy, and social protection. She currently heads the Our Future Agenda program at the UN Foundation. This new program offers an intergenerational platform for young leaders to contribute to the vision of global cooperation set by the United Nations Secretary-General. It also hosts the Unlock the Future Coalition, a high-ambition coalition of the world’s largest youth-led and youth-focused organizations committed to tackling humanity’s most pressing challenges.

Harshani joins UN Foundation most recently from New York University’s Center for International Cooperation. In this capacity, she led the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies, a member-state-led initiative that seeks to accelerate action on key targets related to peace, justice, and inclusion as outlined in the UN 2030 Agenda.

Harshani’s expertise extends beyond policy and into practical, on-the-ground work with governments and grassroots organizations. She was instrumental in the early stages of BRAC’s Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative. This first-of-its-kind global innovation lab supports governments as they implement comprehensive social protection programs to combat extreme poverty. She has hands-on experience designing and delivering programs in Bangladesh, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

Her commitment to human rights has also seen her lead fact-finding missions in Azerbaijan, Japan, Tajikistan and Vietnam for the UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health. Harshani has also worked with the Open Society Justice Initiative and Asylum Seekers Resource Center in Australia to provide justice and healthcare to vulnerable groups such as migrants, refugees, and immigrants.

In previous roles, Harshani worked with the United Nations Democracy Fund, where she helped implement rule of law projects in developing countries. She also contributed her legal expertise to Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Harshani holds a law and arts degree from Monash University in Australia. She also earned a Master’s degree in International Law and Comparative Law from George Washington University.