A career diplomat, Ambassador José Luis Cancela joined the Foreign Service of Uruguay in 1988, and has served in the Embassies of Uruguay in Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Mission of Uruguay to the European Communities, and the Kingdom of Spain. His last foreign assignment was as Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations in New York, from 2008 to 2013. As Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Cancela was appointed as President of the Commission of Disarment and International Security of the UN General Assembly during its 64th Session, Vice president of the Review Conference of the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York, Vice president of the General Assembly of the United Nations and was designated by the UN Secretary General to integrate the High Level Advisory Group in charge of reviewing the rate of reimbursement to the members of the UN Peace Missions and other matters, representing Latin America and the Caribbean. Last year Ambassador Cancela was appointed as a member of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM). While at headquarters in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Cancela served in the Direction General for Political Affairs, as Director of International Economic Organisms, as Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as National Coordinator of Uruguay to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and lately as Vice minister of Foreign Affairs.
Fluent in four languages and with a background in Law, Ambassador Cancela is frequently invited to take part in seminars and conferences about international politics and diplomacy.