Minister Cannon Appoints Canada's First Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

(No. 35 - February 9, 2009) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced the appointment of John Holmes as Canada's first ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Mr. Holmes remains ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Indonesia, with concurrent accreditation to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

"The appointment of Mr. Holmes as Canada's first ambassador to ASEAN sends a clear signal to the region that Canada is committed to deepening its relationship with the association in areas such as health, security, counterterrorism, transnational crime, human rights, and trade and investment," said Minister Cannon. "His knowledge of the region and extensive experience in international law, economics and human rights issues make him an ideal candidate for this important new position."

The entry into force of the ASEAN charter on December 15, 2008, and the creation of a permanent representative system under the charter allow Canada to engage directly with ASEAN as an institution on a wide range of issues important to Canada.

"In addition to its members' strategic location as a gateway to Asia, ASEAN is transforming itself into a rules-based organization increasingly open to trade and investment opportunities," added Minister Cannon. "The appointment of Mr. Holmes will play an important role in advancing Canada's political, economic and security interests in the region."

Canada has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN for more than 30 years and maintains an active programming agenda with ASEAN members through the Jakarta-based Secretariat. Canada's interests in Southeast Asia are significant. Two-way trade exceeded $13 billion in 2007, and in the same year Canadian direct investment to ASEAN members was nearly $7.7 billion.

The ASEAN member countries are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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A biographical note on the appointee follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874

Biographical Note

John Holmes (BA, McGill University,1978; LLB, McGill University, 1982) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1982. He is currently Canada's ambassador to Indonesia, with accreditation to Timor-Leste, and has lived in Jakarta since 2006.

Mr. Holmes served abroad as second secretary at the Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 1983 to 1987, as first secretary at the Canadian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, from 1991 to 1993, and as legal counsellor from 1996 to 2000 at Canada's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

He was responsible for human rights and humanitarian law in the department's Legal Bureau from 1987 to 1991, and served as deputy director of the Legal Advisory Division from 1993 to 1994, with responsibility for privileges and immunities, and international criminal cooperation. In 1994, Mr. Holmes joined the Privy Council Office as an adviser on national unity and, in 1995, he was named special adviser on human rights and international crime issues. In 2000, he was appointed director of the UN, Criminal and Treaty Law Division and was later named director of the UN, Human Rights and Economic Law Division.

Mr. Holmes is an international lawyer by training. From 1987 to 1989, he led Canada's delegation to the UN working group on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In New York and in Rome, he was actively involved in the drafting of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and represented Canada at the inaugural meeting of the Court in The Hague in 2003. Also at the UN, Mr. Holmes helped draft the International Convention Against Terrorist Bombings and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. He has participated as a speaker at numerous academic conferences on human rights and international criminal law issues.

In 2003, Mr. Holmes was appointed Canada's ambassador to Jordan, where he served until 2006. In 2005, he was appointed non-resident ambassador to Iraq.

Mr. Holmes is originally from Hemmingford, Quebec. He is married to Carol Bujeau.