Laos Takes On Big Diplomacy in New Book


Small Countries, Big Diplomacy, a new book highlighting the role of Laos in the global arena, was officially launched yesterday in Vientiane Capital.

Representing valuable insights from two generations of experienced Lao diplomats, the new book “Small Countries, Big Diplomacy – Laos in the UN, ASEAN, and MRC” was launched by its authors, Mr. Alounkeo Alounkeo Kittikhoun and Mr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Laos-Japan Human Resource Development Institute (LJI) in Vientiane Capital yesterday.

In launching their book, former Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and longest-serving former Ambassador of Laos to the United Nations, Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun and Mekong River Commission Secretariat Chief Executive Officer Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, were joined by Ambassador of Japan to the Laos Mr. Kobayashi Kenichi and LJI Acting Director Dr. Phonkeo Chanthamaly.

The launch was held in a hybrid in-person and online mode together with the “JICA Chair” (JICA Program for Japanese Studies) lecture by Asian Development Bank Institute Dean Dr. Sonobe Tetsushi on “Economic Development in Postwar Japan”.

JICA Chair is an initiative developed based on the proposal by JICA president Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi. Dr. Kitaoka expressed his congratulations on the launch to good friends Mr. Alounkeo and Dr. Anoulak and highlighted JICA’s activities and future cooperation in Laos.

Referring to their publication, father-and-son co-authors Mr. Alounkeo and Dr. Anoulak shared the knowledge of Laos’ foreign policy, based on their broad experiences.

Using the case of Laos, the book explores how a small, landlocked, developing state manoeuvred among the big players and championed causes of international concern at some of the world’s most important global institutions. It concludes with “seven rules for small state diplomacy” that should prove useful for diplomats, statespersons, policymakers and international civil servants alike.

“Anoulak and I wrote this book not only to make Laos better known to and understood by the world, but also to show that the world is full of possibilities for even small and vulnerable states, and that what matters is the confidence, ability, and sheer passion of their people,” said Mr. Alounkeo.

“This book, therefore, attempts to dispel a notion, so prevalent in some quarters of international diplomacy, that small states are passive observers of the machinations of powerful states, institutions, and resourceful actors of all kinds. While most are keenly aware of their limited capacity and resources, and positions in the international hierarchy of nations, more than a few have made and are making significant contributions to advancing international agendas. Given the right conditions and people, small countries can play significant roles, much bigger than their size would predict,” said Dr. Anoulak.

The event was attended by Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister of Education and Sports Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Lao Front for National Development Vice President and Lao Japan Friendship Association President Madam Sengdeuane Lachanthboun, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Laos and Dean of Diplomatic Corps Dr. Pratito Soeharyo.

In remote attendance was Head of External Relations Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee, Mr. Thongsavanh Phomvihane.

Japan was the first country from a non-Western background to modernize. Today’s Japan is a free, democratic, prosperous, and peace-loving nation based on the rule of law. This has been achieved without losing much of its tradition and identity. In this sense and more, Japan’s experiences can offer some of the most promising examples for developing countries to study when considering their own development strategies.

At the same time, Japan has extensive experience of development cooperation through official development assistance (ODA) together with partners in countries across Asia and beyond, contributing to remarkable examples of socio-economic progress. By sharing experiences and lessons learned through its modernization and development cooperation, Japan is a leader in development studies globally, contributing to sustainable development.

Interested parties residing in Laos may order a copy of the book via:

RDK Group

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