Friday (November 11th): Hun Sen Hosts ASEAN Summit

Hun Sen
© WTO/Jay Louvion

Name? Hun Sen

Westphalian identity? Cambodian  

Age? 70

Why is he in the news? Today, the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen is in the news for hosting and kicking off the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh. Hun Sen opened the meeting with a call for unity and fostering a deeper common concentration on the ASEAN’s goal of One Vision, One Identity, One Community

Why do we care? Items on the agenda this morning were understandably Ukraine and Myanmar. On the matter of Ukraine, Hun Sen played an important role in bringing Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) peace deal, ensuring mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity between Ukraine and ASEAN members. This shows the growing geostrategic importance of Southeast Asia.

Why should you care? In April of 2021, ASEAN passed the Five-Point-Consensus calling for the end of the conflict following the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi. Unfortunately, human rights abuses and fighting have continued in the country, Hun Sen and other ASEAN leaders have expressed concern on their ability to enforce the Consensus. However, the loss of power by Myanmar’s junta may facilitate ASEAN’s ability to act, which is why you should care 5/10 about this year’s ASEAN summit. 

Who else cares? US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping both care about the ASEAN summit to push their own agendas. Biden and Xi will meet on Monday in Bali, Indonesia. Prior to their meeting though, Chinese Premier Li Kiqiang and President Biden will meet with ASEAN leaders to push their respective trade agreements, as they both seek to influence the region.

Any further comments? East Timor will become  the 11th member of ASEAN after the group “agreed… in principle” to their accession after first applying 11 years ago. Hun Sen spoke positively of their hopeful ASEAN accession at the UN at the 77th UNGA in September.