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Biographical note

Biography: H.E. Mr. Anand Panyarachun

© UNICEF 2003
H.E. Mr. Anand Panyarachun at a briefing in UNICEF headquarters in New York to discuss his work to combat HIV/AIDS in Thailand.

Mr. Anand Panyarachun was born in Bangkok in 1932. He was educated at Bangkok Christian College and Dulwich College, United Kingdom. He obtained his BA (Honours) at Cambridge University.

Upon his graduation in 1955, he served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand. From 1959 to 1964, he acted as Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1964, he was appointed First Secretary of the Royal Thai Diplomatic Mission to the United Nations, New York. In 1967, he was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations and Canada. In 1972 he served as Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C. as well as to the UN in New York.

In 1976, Mr. Panyarachun returned to Thailand to resume the position of Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His last government post was Ambassador to Germany, from 1977-1978.

In 1979, he left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to run Saha Union Group, a large Thai corporation. Mr. Panyarachun was appointed Vice President of the Thai Industry Association, in 1980, Vice President of the Thai Industry Council in 1987 and President of this Council in 1990.

From 1982-1984, Mr. Panyarachun was the President of the ASEAN Chamber of Commerce and Industry and from 1988-1989, he was President of ASEAN Task Force, in charge of ASEAN co-operation. From 1986 to 1990, he was President of the ASEAN Committee in the ASEAN-USA Council.

Mr. Panyarachun has also held important posts in many academic institutions including: National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand Development Research Institute, Science and Technology Development Council, Sasin Business Administration Institute, Chulalongkorn University Council, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and ASEAN-USA Technology Exchange Institute. In October 1990, he was appointed Member of The World Management Council (CLOS) and in January 1991, he was appointed Member of The Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD).

On 2 March 1991, Mr. Panyarachun was sworn in as Thailand’s 18th Prime Minister since the establishment of the constitutional monarchy in 1932.  The Panyarachun cabinet, made up of talented and respected technocrats with a reform agenda, is still seen as one of the country’s most capable governments.

Mr. Panyarachun was the first Asian leader to launch a comprehensive nation-wide HIV/AIDS prevention programme in the early 90s. He made tough and bold decisions to combat the epidemic. He publicly acknowledged that the epidemic in Thailand was being driven by practices in the country that no one wanted to admit, namely the use of commercial sex workers by Thai men, injecting drug use and gender inequity, including the sale of children into sex work. His government’s efforts resulted in behavioural changes that reduced significantly the number of new HIV infections in the country. The percentage of Thai men visiting sex workers has fallen annually and condom use has increased drastically. Thailand’s programme under Mr. Panyarachun’s administration is being showcased by UNAIDS as one of three “best practices” in the world (the other two being in Africa – Uganda and Senegal).

Panyarachun’s government broke new ground also on educational reforms and environmental protection.  These are issues which Mr. Panyarachun continues to promote throughout the country and the region.

The government was also a leader for children. On March 12, Prime Minister Panyarachun, on behalf of Thailand, signed the Declaration and Plan of Action of the 1990 World Summit for Children. And he was involved in promoting Thailand’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in March 1992.

In 1997,  Mr. Panyarachun served as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. The 99-member committee of political, business and academic leaders, drew up a charter which goes a long way towards establishing a strong democracy that will ensure civil and political rights in Thailand.

In the same year, Mr. Panyarachun received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysayi Award for service to the state.

UNICEF Ambassador for Thailand
Mr. Panyarachun was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for Thailand on 17 January, 1996.  Since then he has been an outstanding advocate for children, speaking on child rights issues, child abuse, HIV/AIDS and education reform.  He has been actively involved in fund raising bringing in more than US$10 million.

Personal interests
Though Mr. Panyarachun devotes considerable time to business and public affairs, he and his wife M.R. Sodsee, their two married daughters and their families, see each other often and travel together frequently. Mr. Panyarachun also enjoys watching TV sports’ programmes and reading Winston Churchill’s books, good English prose, speeches by world leaders and political and economic publications. A music lover, his favourite composers are Rachmaninov, Chopin, Brahms and Puccini. Mr. Panyarachun continues to play squash. He played on Cambridge tennis and squash teams.





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