H. E. Dr. Palitha T.B. KOHONA
Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka until his appointment as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Prior to this he served as the Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) established by the Government of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Palitha Kohona who hails from Matale, Sri Lanka, received his secondary education in Sri Lanka at St. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia. He proceeded to obtain a LL.B (Hons) at the University of Sri Lanka and a LL.M from the Australian National University. He obtained a Doctorate from Cambridge University, UK, for the thesis – ‘The Regulation of International Economic Relations through Law’, subsequently published by Kluwer, Netherlands. He is also an Attorney-at-Law, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
Dr. Kohona was a member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the UN General Assembly in 2006- 2010. He has led official level delegations to a wide range of countries on bilateral matters. He is currently the Co-Chair of the UN Ad-Hoc Working Group on Marine Resources beyond National Jurisdiction and is the Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean. He is the Chair of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Territories Occupied since 1967. He is also a Patron of the Sustainability Inc. and a Patron of the U Thant Institute. During his tenure as the Secretary-General of the Government Peace Secretariat (2006), he participated in several rounds of peace negotiations with the LTTE in Geneva and led the delegation to talks in Oslo.
From 1995-2006 He served as the Chief of the Treaty Section, Department of Legal Affairs of the UN. As Chief of the Treaty Section he was a recipient of the UN21 Pin. He managed the computerization and on-line access to the UN Treat Database consisting of over 50,000 bilateral treaties and over 530 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General. He also initiated the annual UN Treaty Event which is now held during the General Assembly and edited the Treaty Handbook.
Prior to joining the UN, he was with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia where he held the position of Head of the Trade and Investment Section. He was a member of the Uruguay Round negotiating team of Australia with specific responsibility for the institutional mechanisms and the dispute settlement unit.
In 1989 he was posted to the Australian Permanent Mission in Geneva with specific responsibility for environmental issues including the Rio Process. In Geneva he chaired the negotiating group that developed the compliance mechanism under the Montreal Protocol to the Convention on the Ozone Layer and was a member of the Working Group on the liability mechanism under the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes. In 1988 he led the Australian delegation to the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board.
He returned to Sri Lanka on the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to assume office as the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) in 2006.
He is fluent in Sinhala, English and French.