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Dr. Palitha Kohona - new Permanent Representative to UN

Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona will shortly assume duties as the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, New York.


Dr. Palitha Kohona

Dr. Kohona before assuming the current position he was the Foreign Secretary, Special Advisor on the Peace Process and Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) and was a member of the Government delegation which participated in the Peace Talks with the LTTE in 2006.

He has served as the Chief of the United Nations Treaty Section, New York.

He held this position since 1995. The Treaty Section is responsible for discharging the Secretariat's mandate to register treaties under Article 102 of the Charter and the depositary functions of the Secretary-General for Multilateral Treaties e.g. The Land Mines Convention, Kyoto Protocol, Bio-Safety Protocol, Treaties on Terrorism and Organised Crime and Human Rights. The Treaty Section is the custodian of over 500 multilateral treaties, covering the spectrum of international interaction.

At the Treaty Section, Dr. Kohona implemented a major programme of managerial changes, including a move to a highly computerized work environment and significantly improved its performance and output earning the UN21 Medal for superior management. He participated in many sensitive multilateral negotiations on behalf of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, combining his legal background with his experience as a diplomat. He has continued to maintain a keen interest, particularly on environment, terrorism and organized crime related issues. He led a UN legal delegation to North Korea in 2005 at the invitation of the DPRK Government at a time when tensions were running high. He was also a key speaker at a seminar organized in Canberra by the Australian Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties.

Prior to joining the UN, Dr. Kohona was with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia since 1983. Posted to Geneva in 1989, he chaired the negotiating group that developed the compliance mechanism under the Montreal Protocol to the Convention on the Orzone Layer. He was also closely involved in the negotiation of major multilateral environmental agreements and in the Rio process.Back in Australia in 1992, Dr. Kohona was attached to the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations institutional mechanisms and dispute settlement unit and subsequently headed the Trade and Investment Section of the Department.

Dr. Kohona, who hails from Matale, received his secondary education in Sri Lanka at S. 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 Trade through Law,' subsequently published by Kluwer, Netherlands. He is also an Attorney-at-Law.

His new appointment follows the retirement of M.G.S. Palihakkara.

(PRIU)

 

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