International Crisis Group is deeply sorrowed to learn of the passing of its former Board Member Surin Pitsuwan, former Foreign Minister of Thailand and General Secretary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Pitsuwan died on 30 November in Thailand, aged 68.
Crisis Group benefited greatly from Pitsuwan’s many years of experience, acquired over a long and distinguished career. He entered Thai politics in 1986 after winning a parliamentary seat in his home province in southern Thailand. Between 1992 and 1995, he served as Thailand’s deputy foreign minister before being promoted to foreign minister in 1997.
“He was the image of energy and life and had a creative and independent mind”, said Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Crisis Group’s President & CEO. “Becoming the first Thai national to serve as ASEAN’s General Secretary is a unique accolade that attests to Pitsuwan’s character, intellectual capacity and leadership qualities”.
After four years on Crisis Group's Board of Trustees until 2006, Pitsuwan began a five-year term as General Secretary of ASEAN in 2008. He oversaw steady progress toward reform and championed a more activist approach to some of the regional bloc’s challenges. ASEAN paid tribute to Pitsuwan in a Tweet on its official account on Thursday 30 November: “It is a big loss to Thailand and the ASEAN community”.
Pitsuwan is survived by his wife and three children, to whom Crisis Group conveys its sincere condolences.