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Dr. Surin Pitsuwan

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Dr. Surin Pitsuwan is the past Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (2008-2012). During that period he was tasked to implement the ASEAN Charter and prepare the region to enter into the ASEAN Community in 2015. Previously, he was also Deputy Minister of Interior, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (1992-1995) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1997-2001). Dr. Surin has also been a Deputy Leader of the Thai Democrat Party.

During Dr. Surin’s tenure at ASEAN, he spearheaded the Asian countries to help restore law and order in East Timor during the violent uprising in the aftermath of the Referendum in August 1999. He also lead the ASEAN Member States and the United Nations and other international institutions such as the World Bank, ADB and various other International NGOs to enter Myanmar to rescue that country from the catastrophe of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and remained there until the mission was accomplished in December 2010.

Dr. Surin’s academic career is long: He was awarded the American Field Service (AFS) exchange scholarship and was a high school exchange student in Minnesota, USA, in 1967-1968. He returned to Bangkok, Thailand and attended Thammasat University for two years before winning a scholarship from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College) Claremont, California, to complete his B.A. in Political Science (cum laude) in 1972. He then went on to Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A., where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1974 and 1982 respectively, in the field of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. His entire Harvard career was supported by the Winston S. Churchill Association, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation Fellowships. He also spent a year and a half studying Arabic and conducting his research at the American University in Cairo, 1975-1977, while concurrently a fellow at the Higher Council for Islamic Research, Cairo, Egypt. He worked as a columnist for the Nation and the Bangkok Post, the two leading English daily newspapers in Bangkok, from 1975-1992.

Dr. Surin returned to Thailand in 1984 to assume a teaching position at Thammasat University and ran for a Parliamentary seat from Nakorn Sri Thammarat, his home town two years later. He had been returned to Parliament 8 times since 1986. As an MP, he was appointed Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (H.E. Chuan Leekpai), Secretary to Deputy Minister of Interior, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs during 1992-1995, and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2001. He served as Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1999-2000.

Upon leaving the foreign affairs portfolio in mid-2001, Dr. Surin was appointed a member of the Commission on Human Security of the United Nations until 2003. He also served as an advisor to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty from 1999-2001. In 2002, he concurrently served on the ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation until 2004. He is currently on the Advisory Board of the UN Human Security Trust Fund, the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group (ICG), an International Academic Advisor of the Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University, and an advisor to the Leaders Project, a conference arm of the Cohen Group of former US Secretary of Defence William S. Cohen.

Dr. Surin has been conferred 13 honorary doctorate degrees, including one from University of Bristol (UK), Claremont McKenna College, the National University of Malaya (UKM) University Purta Malaysia (UPM) and University of Malaya (UM).

After his term as Secretary General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin has been appointed Professor Emeritus at Thammasat University and also an Honorary Advisor and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at King Prajadhipok Institute, an academic affiliation of the Thai Parliament. He is concurrently a Visiting Professor, an Adjunct Professor and a Visiting Fellow at the Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, University of Nara, Japan, University of Malaya, and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University, UK.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan is now engaged in the promotion of regional integration in East Asia, educational and political reform efforts in Thailand and a frequent speaker at various international conferences.”