Dr. Kohona is the first Sri Lankan to be elected to chair the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly. Ambassador Sir Claude Corea chaired the Fifth Committee (UN Budget) in 1958 and the First Committee (Disarmament) in 1960. After a hiatus of 33 years, Ambassador Stanley Kalpage chaired the Fourth Committee (Decolanisation) in 1993.
Dr. Palitha Kohona was the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2009 when he was posted to New York as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Prior to that he was the Secretary General of the Government Peace Secretariat. From 1995 to 2005 he was the Head of the UN Treaty Section which discharges the depository function of the UN Secretary-General and is responsible for treaties under Article 102 of the Charter. During his stewardship of the Treaty Section, inter alia, he initiated the Annual Treaty Event of the United Nations (now a permanent feature in the UN calendar) and oversaw the computerization of the UN's vast collection of multilateral (over 530) and bilateral (over 55,000) treaties.