The Lao People’s Democratic Republic will assume the Chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2016. To assist in preparations for this regional leadership role, the ASEAN Department in Lao PDR’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs – supported by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies – hosted a seminar April 7 to 8 in Vientiane.
The chairmanship will involve leadership of various ASEAN organizations and events to include nearly a thousand meetings and summits. Through these, Lao PDR will lead discussions on key regional security issues impacting member nations and dialogue partners. According to APCSS Director and team lead Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Dan Leaf, the role will require strong inter-agency cooperation within the Lao PDR government.
“Effective coordination among its ministries tied to ASEAN affairs will be crucial to success,” said Leaf, adding, “the ‘Seminar on National Coordination for ASEAN Chairmanship 2016’ aided these ministries in establishing networks among their key points of contacts.”
Four APCSS staff members joined more than 50 Lao participants from 21 ministries and offices in discussions on improved coordination and organizational change. Together, they identified and documented required “next steps” to strengthen communication and coordination. Their efforts marked the first of a series of dialogues in support of Lao PDR preparations for the assumption of the ASEAN chairmanship. Future seminars will address issues and priorities identified by Lao PDR as significant to its future leadership efforts.
The seminar was an example of the strong and developing relationship between the U.S. and Lao PDR. While designed to enhance the capacity of Lao PDR officials, it also demonstrated a U.S. commitment to strengthening ASEAN and ASEAN-led processes. The unique value and contribution of the seminar to national and regional capacities was summarized well by a participant. “On day 1, we arrived as participants at a seminar. On day 2, we arrived as co-workers with a unified national vision. But by the end of day 2, we were a team ready to contribute to ASEAN and peace and security in the region.”