This week, as world leaders gather in New York on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, the U.S.-Thai alliance, and the comprehensive partnerships it has generated, has never been more relevant. Together, the United States and Thailand can leverage the strength of this alliance to achieve a shared goal of building peace and sustainable development around the world.
The 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-U.S. Defense Alliance agreed by the Obama administration and the government of Thailand envisions a true partnership for the 21st Century — one that enables both countries to cooperate effectively not just in Southeast Asia, but globally.
The United States and Thailand have been allies in war. Thai and U.S. soldiers have fought shoulder to shoulder in several conflicts. We are also natural partners for peace. Since 1958, Thai troops have served as United Nations peacekeepers in over 20 countries from Lebanon to Bosnia, from Haiti to Darfur. Thailand led the U.N. mission to secure peace and lay the foundation for development of Timor-Leste. We have worked with the United States and others to protect the vulnerable and allow peace to flourish where conflicts once prevailed.
But peace requires more than just boots on the ground. Lasting peace demands that we work to improve livelihoods, provide basic needs and give people the tools and skills they need to sustain themselves. Peacekeepers work to provide the needed space for peoples in conflict to realize their potentials free from fear and want.
When President Obama convenes the Peacekeeping Summit in New York, we stand ready to share what we have learned with our partners. We will work with the United States to ensure that the international community can better respond to those in dire need, empower women to play a bigger role in peace operations, protect women and children in conflict zones from violence, and build the capacities of our peacekeepers.
Peace and security are also needed on the high seas. Thailand and the United States share a common interest in maintaining open and free maritime commerce. Strategically located between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, Thailand is a critical link and a net contributor to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. We have battled pirates in the Straits of Malacca and led the international Combined Maritime Forces against Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa until early this year.
We will also work with the United States to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, strengthen the nuclear security regime and tackle extremism.
Thailand and the United States are close partners for development. Sustainable and equitable development is the best form of peacekeeping and conflict prevention. Thailand therefore welcomes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be adopted this week in New York. This agenda promises to rally the world around goals that have the potential to make a difference in the lives of billions, particularly those still languishing in extreme poverty.
There is much more that Thailand and the United States can accomplish together on development. As partners, we can help people gain access to clean drinking water, build stronger communities, promote education — particularly for girls — empower women, improve basic healthcare infrastructure, provide humanitarian relief and assistance as we did in Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis and most recently in Nepal.
The collaboration between Thai public health agencies and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and our joint effort at the Armed Force Research Institute for Medical Science have set a gold standard for global health security.
Our partnership for sustainable peace and development will surely yield positive humanitarian impacts. Because when there is peace and stability, when people have hope, security and can realize their potential, there is no need for them to flee as refugees or illegal migrants and risk falling prey to human traffickers. Thailand stands ready to work closely with the United States to mobilize the international community to tackle root causes of these outflows and crack down on human traffickers and smugglers.
We can work more efficiently together through closer partnership and coordination. Our alliance has lasted over 182 years. Although we may sometimes have different points of view, history has shown time and again that the alliance between Thailand and the United States is resilient and enduring.
Thailand is committed to working in partnership with the United States to achieve critical, sustainable development goals so that people everywhere, especially the vulnerable, will be free from fear and want and become valuable contributors to our world.
• Pisan Manawapat is the ambassador of Thailand to the United States.