- Lê Nguyen An Khanh is a young diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Viet Nam. She is passionate about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and world peace.
- UNITAR Division for Prosperity trains government officials in Asia to learn about international nuclear disarmament processes and build their communication and negotiation skills.
28 August 2023, Hiroshima, Japan – Lê Nguyen An Khanh is a young official from Viet Nam, working at the Department of International Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She believes that diplomats like her have the responsibility to advocate for nuclear disarmament. But it’s not always easy to keep abreast of the intricacies of the field. “We are constantly having [to] research all the issues, of which nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is a huge part”, she says.
UNITAR Training Programme in Hiroshima
In 2023, Lê joined the UNITAR Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (NDNP) Training Programme in Hiroshima, Japan, to learn more about the protocols and procedures of disarmament and non-proliferation conferences – such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference and meetings on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – and build her communication and negotiation skills.
Lê believes that diplomats have the responsibility to constantly remind people of the horrors of Hiroshima, an experience that should never be allowed to fade from memory. Learning in Hiroshima with UNITAR, Lê believes, helps diplomats like her work better to prevent the tragedy from ever reoccurring.
“By knowing about nuclear weapons and the stories and road to recovery of Hiroshima, it helps us navigate better in our daily diplomacy in Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries”.
Aspirations of a Young Diplomat
Lê loves working in diplomacy. Growing up, she wasn’t interested in international relations, but when she learned how Viet Nam connected with other countries after the wars and rebuilt itself, her views changed. Wanting to contribute to her country’s development and with a diplomat father as a role model, Lê joined the diplomatic corps in 2019.
Lê has had to learn how to take the uncertainties of global politics and turn them into something surmountable. She is proud that Viet Nam has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and is currently at accession level with the NPT. She wants to make sure her country’s voice is heard on the international stage, that it is seen as a world player. (Plus, she enjoys meeting, learning and working with like-minded people from different backgrounds and cultures.)
Being a young diplomat can come with its challenges: her views and opinions may not be granted the same weight as her older, perhaps more experienced, colleagues. But Lê challenges other young diplomats to be passionate and work hard.
If you work hard enough, stick to your ideals and you are passionate about what you do and want to do in the future, people will recognize you – especially the seasoned diplomats who have already been there. You have to demonstrate that you are willing and have the capability to deliver. [If] you have a passion, you will be able to overcome challenges”. —Lê Nguyen An Khanh, Vietnamese diplomat and 2023 alumna, UNITAR Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Training Programme
Looking to the Future
Lê will incorporate into her work all that she learned in the UNITAR training and expects to share her knowledge with colleagues in other departments and ministries as well. She applauds the UNITAR Hiroshima Office for putting together a well-organized and resourced training programme that she calls “an epitome of a good training programme”.
In the next 20 years, Lê says she wants to see more UNITAR offices around the world and for more people to learn about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. “I want to see UNITAR bring people from different regions with different cultures, race, genres to show the similar yet different experiences of their lives.”
Her personal goal is to make sure that she contributes to global peace.
Peace is a universal value. Everybody wants peace. I think peace is the motivation for every country to move towards development and stability. It is only when we have peace that we can move forward and make ourselves stronger.” —Lê Nguyen An Khanh, Vietnamese diplomat and 2023 alumna, UNITAR Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Training Programme
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2022, UNITAR trained 396,046 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have offices in Hiroshima, New York and Bonn and networks around the world.
The Division for Prosperity is based in the Hiroshima Office and Geneva. We seek to shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world through world-class learning and knowledge-sharing services on entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and trade, digital technologies, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. We empower individuals from least-developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, and small-island developing states – especially women and young people – to bring about positive change.
United Nations Volunteer Ruhiya Yousuf contributed to this article.