Agent Orange and UXO in Laos

Join us for a discussion with George Black, Susan Hammond, Sera Koulabdara, and Shelley Inglis about the opportunity to address unacknowledged legacies of war in Laos. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will provide opening remarks and Ambassador Khamphan Anlavan from the Embassy of Lao PDR will provide closing remarks.

Although it has been 46 years since the end of the Vietnam War, Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance are war legacies which continued to negatively impact the lives and health of people in affected areas today. Over the last two decades the United States and Vietnam have built a collaborative and forward-looking relationship through addressing these legacies of war, and there is growing evidence of the need and opportunity to extend that work to affected communities in neighboring Laos.

George Black is the author of the recent NYT article that brought these legacies of war in Laos to light.

Keynote Speakers

Senator Tammy Baldwin, elected to the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2012, Senator Baldwin won a hard fought race and making history as Wisconsin’s first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first openly gay member elected to the Senate. 

In the Senate, Senator Baldwin is committed to working across party lines to strengthen the essential pillars of economic security for the middle class – investments in education and workforce readiness, quality health care for all Americans, building a strong manufacturing economy, and ensuring retirement security for today’s seniors and future generations. 

Ambassador Khamphan Anlavan, is a career Senior Foreign Service Officer with more than 20 years of experiences in Asia, Europe, and Africa. The new Ambassador was most recently Chief of Cabinet, Committee for External Relations of Laos, where he started his mission in 2018. Prior, he held top-ranking positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos, including Director-General of Party Affairs, then Director-General of Europe and American Department, Committee for External Relations of the Lao PR Party Central Committee. Ambassador Anlavan has also served as a Deputy Director-General at the Department of Asia-Pacific and Africa, MOFA, Lao PDR.

Featured Speakers

George Black is a New York City-based writer specializing in international affairs and the environment. Born in Scotland, he has a master’s degree in modern languages and literature from the University of Oxford.His next book, The Long Shadow: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Viet Nam, will be published by Knopf in 2022.In his 35-year career as a journalist, he has written for a wide range of magazines, newspapers, and digital publications, and is the recipient of numerous awards. He has also worked extensively in television for the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and he has been a frequent expert commentator on National Public Radio (NPR). See his full biography here.

Susan Hammond is the daughter of a United States Vietnam Veteran and has experienced firsthand the consequences of one of the most dangerous forms of dioxin, Agent Orange.

In 2007 after extensive work in Vietnam, Hammond funded War Legacies Project and is now the Executive Director. Hammond is a leading expert in her field and has made it her life’s work to raise awareness on Agent Orange consequences and provide aid to Vietnamese families. Read her full biography here.

Sera Koulabdara serves as Executive Director of Legacies of War, the leading international U.S.-basededucational and advocacy organization working to address the impact of conflict in Laos during the Vietnam War-era, including removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and survivor assistance. Prior to this role, Sera was a long time volunteer and served on Legacies’ board for 4 years in multiple leadership positions including Vice Chair.

Under Sera’s leadership, U.S. funding for UXO clearance in Laos reached $40M –the highest level in history and the Legacies of War Recognition and UXO Removal Act was introduced by Senator Baldwin. If approved, this historic bill will recognize the people of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who fought alongside American troops during the Vietnam War and authorizes landmark funding of $100M for 5 years divided among the 3 countries of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Shelley Inglis is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center and Research Professor of Human Rights and Law. She comes from the United Nations Development Programme where she held various management positions working on peacebuilding, democratic governance, rule of law and human rights and the Sustainable Development Agenda at headquarters in New York and regionally based in Istanbul, Turkey. Prior to joining UNDP, she worked with the Rule of Law Unit in the Office of the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. Read her full biography here.

This event is supported by the War Legacies Working Group.

The University of Dayton Human Rights Center–represented on this panel by Shelley Inglis–has just published a new report relevant to today’s discussion, Coming to Terms with Legacies of the Vietnam War. Please check out the report here:

Part of the War Legacies Working Group Project
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