Thailand’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Vijavat Isarabhakdi?
Vijavat Isarabhakdi presented his credentials as ambassador from Thailand to President Barack Obama on December 3, 2013. It is Isarabhakdi’s first ambassadorial position, but his second posting to the United States.
Isarabhakdi was born June 28, 1957. He attended Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, the oldest such institution in the country, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He went on to attend Tufts University in Boston, earning an M.A. in law and diplomacy and a Ph.D. in international relations in 1989 from that university’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1989. His dissertation was “The Man In Khaki—Debaser Or Developer?: The Thai Military In Politics, With Particular Reference To The 1976-1986 Period.”
Isarabhakdi joined Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990, serving as an attaché in the Americas division of the ministry’s department of political affairs. He later was made third secretary in that department, then second secretary in the office of East Asian Affairs and then in the office of secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.
In 1993, Isarabhakdi returned to the United States to serve as second secretary in the Thai embassy. At the same time, he was a Congressional fellow, working in the offices of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) and Senator Hank Brown (R-Colorado). During his time in Washington, Isarabhakdi was promoted to first secretary at the embassy.
Isarabhakdi returned to Thailand in 1998 and to the department of East Asian Affairs as first secretary. He later moved to the office of the minister as first secretary and counsellor. In 2001, Isarabhakdi began a series of increasingly responsible jobs in the secretariat of the prime minister. He was posted overseas again in 2006, this time as minister to the permanent mission of the United Nations in Geneva. He returned to Thailand in 2010 as director-general in the department of international organizations, then as deputy permanent secretary, office of the permanent secretary. During this period, he acted as a spokesman for the ministry and spent much of his time defending Thailand’s record on human trafficking and the status of refugees in the country.
His defensive responsibilities have increased since the military coup in Thailand on May 22, 2014.
Isarabhakdi is married with a daughter.
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