A year of work behind us, with many accomplishments

Many of you have asked why we have not reported our progress for several months. This was our thinking. Although TRC is strictly a humanitarian initiative, our mission can have unintended political consequences, if not handled thoughtfully and with respect for the governments affected. Of course, since 2006, TRC’s Founder, Thanh Dac Nguyen, has engaged the Vietnamese government in discussions about the recovery of the remains. Mr. Nguyen’s first opportunity to speak to the VNG came while he attended a conference in Vietnam with a group of American lawyers. Eventually he earned the trust of important officials in the VNG, and gained permission to search parts of the country for individual sets of remains in behalf of families who sought his assistance. Mr. Nguyen enjoyed success, and as his success preceded him, he made more trips to Vietnam. As TRC’s star rose, the initiative picked up momentum. We saw a real possibility that we could be an instrument of reconciliation. We believed that if reconciliation were a possible outcome of TRC’s work, then it would be wise to engage the VNG and the U. S government at the diplomatic level. TRC did not want to step on the wrong toes, and certainly we did not want to say anything to offend. We didn’t want to say or do anything publicly, without a better view of the big picture.

TRC’s General Counsel, Wesley S. Coddou, first contacted the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to arrange a meeting between Embassy officials and Mr. Nguyen. The meeting went well, and later officials requested a summary proposal of TRC’s objective in Vietnam, prepared by Mr. Coddou, and approved and signed by Mr. Nguyen. After reviewing TRC’s proposal, the officials concluded that the initiative was valuable, and forwarded the proposal to Washington D. C. for further review. Not long afterward, a U.S. Senator visited Hanoi and officials briefly discussed the proposal with him. The Senator then suggested that TRC contact his staff. Mr. Coddou did and in September 2009, Mr. Coddou and Mr. Nguyen traveled to Washington D. C. for meetings with the U.S. Department of State, the Senator, and officials at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington. Those meetings brought forth advice and insight that kicked TRC into high gear. Today, TRC maintains contact with both governments, and both governments want TRC to succeed.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the governments of both countries for opening the way for our work.


July 12th, 2010 | Category: Government Policy