2020 marks an important year for Vietnam’s diplomatic leadership. As of January the vibrant nation once labelled as the ‘reluctant middle power of Asia’ assumed its role as chair of ASEAN, while also taking up a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council table. These dual leadership roles matter, underscoring Vietnam’s evolving position, prestige and responsibility on the regional and global stage, and are likely to fuel new interest the dynamics shaping the region.

The significance of the moment is not lost on Vietnam’s foreign policy-makers as they consider and build their strategic leadership and diplomatic capacity. Against the backdrop of strategic partnership, it is an area in which Australia can provide positive support.

Professor Ian Hall, Dr Hoang Van Nghia and Professor Caitlin Byrne, 19 December 2019. (Photo supplied)

And so it was with great interest that the GAI leadership team: Professors Caitlin Byrne and Ian Hall took up the invitation late last year to facilitate a training session through the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA) in Hanoi.

The initiative, supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through Aus4Skills (managed by Coffey International Development) brought together senior leaders from across the nation to explore the opportunities and challenges facing a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to critically examine Vietnam’s diplomatic role ahead.

Key discussions also involved experts from the Australian Embassy, the HCMA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Diplomatic Academy, providing a useful opportunity for participants to hear a range of perspectives and to identify further opportunities for partnership and engagement between Australia and Vietnam into the future.

“There is significant potential to build on this session to deepen understanding of strategic dynamics shaping the region, Vietnam’s regional leadership and expand diplomatic cooperation”, says Professor Caitlin Byrne.

“I was particularly honoured to be the first non-Vietnamese woman to deliver training at the HCMA and look forward to further opportunities to promote the participation of women in foreign policy-making and diplomacy in our region.”

More photos are available here.