Who is he?
Le Luong Minh is an experienced foreign policy practitioner with a strong strategic bent who was educated in India and earned his diplomatic spurs in high level roles in Europe and New York. He is currently Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister. Minh has served in Vietnam’s diplomatic corps for over three decades.
Prior to his current appointment, he was Vietnam’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York from 2004 to 2008, and Geneva from 1995 to 1997. He held the challenging role of president of the United Nations Security Council in July 2008 and again in October 2009. Minh was educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.
Why is he in the news?
Vietnam nominated Minh to succeed former Thailand foreign minister Dr. Surin Pitsuwan to be the next secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the term 2013-2017. The secretary general role holds ministerial rank, and rotates among ASEAN countries in alphabetical order.
Vietnam takes this position seriously as they are committed to strong foundational ASEAN, so Minh was chosen with careful intent. ASEAN leaders officially approved his nomination at the 21st ASEAN Summit in November in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Minh will take office during January 2013.
What can we expect from him?
Upon his official appointment, Minh said that developing a binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and implementing the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty are necessary for regional peace and stability.
Minh is facing high expectations. He will have to fill the large shoes of Dr. Surin who led ASEAN through major shifts, including implementing ASEAN policy toward Myanmar after the 2008 Cyclone Nargis, and boosting ASEAN’s profile and centrality in the regional architecture.
Also, Minh will need to foster the solidarity of ASEAN, given the outcomes of the 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July and recent ASEAN Summit in Cambodia in November. Expect Minh to be less high profile than Surin, but focus more on strategy and strengthening ASEAN fiscally and bureaucratically.