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The United Nations and contributions of Vietnam
25/10/2017 10:12' Send Print
During the 40 years as a member of the United Nations, Vietnam has always played its active, proactive and responsible role. Image: un.org.vn

The United Nations: Looking back on development journey

Born immediately after the atrocious devastation of World War II, the United Nations’ noble mandate stipulated in the first lines of its Charter reflects the burning aspirations of peoples who experienced painful losses in the war - it is to prevent a new world war.

According to the UN Charter, the founding nations were determined to build the United Nations into a global international organization whose primary goal is to secure sustainable peace and world order while identifying other important objectives, including to develop friendly relations among nations, to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. In its effort to carry out these missions, over the past seven decades, the United Nations has attained important achievements.

First, peaceful settlement of many disputes and conflicts; maintenance of peace, and safeguard of world security. The greatest contribution of the United Nations has been to prevent the emergence of a new world war in the past 70 years. With the UN mediation, many international crises have been resolved, consequences of civil wars between religious and ethnic communities have been prevented and contained, contributing to stabilize the situation, bring hope to the world for the power of the largest organization of the planet as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations for peaceful purposes. The UN efforts in disarmament, prevention of the arms race, especially weapons of mass destruction, have contributed to the maintenance of world peace and security.

Second, promotion of economic, political, cultural and social cooperation among member countries, assistance to developing countries, provision of humanitarian assistance to countries in difficulties, protection of ecological environment; settlement of socio-economic issues of the international community, such as development cooperation promotion, environment protection, poverty reduction, disease and inequality prevention.

Third, the UN has adopted international conventions to ensure human rights for all people on the planet. Its humanitarian relief activities have helped millions of refugees and migrants stabilize their lives; at the same time expanded its role in protecting civilians, preventing discrimination, human right violation, and recurrence of mass murders.

Despite impressive achievements over the past seven decades, the UN has faces many challenges to attain these goals.

First, challenges to the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda in the coming time. In order to realize this agenda, it is necessary to create a peaceful environment on a global scale. To do so, two issues need to be resolved: removing hot spots and preventing conflicts. Experiences of the past have shown that "hot spots" still exist in many parts of the world and in some places they have become more serious; the threat of war has not yet been averted. Violence has continued in many places: escalation of conflicts in the Middle East, unpredictable developments in the Korean peninsula, tensions in the East China Sea, and East Sea, among others. Unstable security has been found in some areas, armed conflict between countries and in each country due to racial and religious differences are taking place in many places and tend to spread, threatening regional and world peace, and stability. Non-traditional security issues, such as transnational crimes, climate change, natural disasters, epidemics, are on the rise.

In addition, terrorist activities have also spread to many regions of the world with more sophistication and brutality, threatening world security. That is not to mention the potential dangers to security and stability of the world, prompted by strategic competition between the big countries. All of these conflicts, if left unchecked, will lead to unpredictable risks, even war, and difficulties in realizing the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Second, challenges to ensure harmonious development, first and foremost hunger eradication and poverty alleviation, and to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor among countries and regions in the world. Although humankind has made great strides in science and technology, there has not been effective responses to natural disaster, disease and hunger and poverty in the world. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing among countries, even within developed countries. Although the United Nations and UN agencies have paid special attention to the fight against hunger and poverty and implemented many programs of action to alleviate poverty in the world, hunger, poverty and inequality are still a reality and a hard nut to crack by the international community.

All these require the world to take new forms of action, response and cooperation to work together to maintain peace, stability, create equal relations between nations and ensure an international environment conducive to the development of all peoples. The United Nations, the main international organization responsible for international peace and security, a center for harmonizing foreign policies among nations and addressing important global issues, needs to continue its reform and adjustments to ensure its assistance to all nations on earth.

Vietnam's contributions to the United Nations

With a desire to become a UN full member from the very outset of national foundation, President Ho Chi Minh on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam wrote to the first session of the UN General Assembly taking place in London in January 1946, affirming Viet Nam's support for the United Nations and expressing Vietnam’s aspiration to contribute to the common cause.

At the 32nd UN General Assembly on 20 September 1977, Vietnam was officially recognized as the 149th member of the largest multilateral organization in the world. This is an important event in the cause of national construction and defense, contributing to enhancing Vietnam's position in the international arena, and contributing to the peace, development and social progress of the international community.

Forty years since joining the United Nations, Vietnam's role and status have been constantly improved and enhanced; Viet Nam's participation in the United Nations has increased in terms of modalities and content with major changes or adjustments in each stage in terms of perceptions, strategic guidelines, objectives and operational programs. The relationship between Vietnam and the United Nations has been strengthened and developed in both scope and scale, which is seen as a model of partnership for development.

Vietnam has actively mobilized, and capitalized on spiritual and material support of UN member states and organizations for the reconstruction of its war-torn country. On the other hand, Vietnam has also taken advantage of capital, gray matter, and technical assistance of the UN for socio-economic development. The UN is a forum for Vietnam to implement requirements of foreign policy.

During the renovation period, with the active roll-out of the independent and self-reliant foreign policy, multilateralization, diversification of international relations, proactive and active integration into the region and the world, Vietnam has strengthened relations with organizations within the UN system, expanded bilateral and multilateral relations with countries and international organizations.

As a member of the United Nations, Vietnam has actively implemented foreign policy in the renewal period, participated in many activities of UN agencies in many fields, fulfilled and upheld a proactive, active, responsible role in the United Nations.

First, Vietnam has always been active in the cause of peace, cooperation and development in the world.

From its first days in the United Nations, Vietnam has proactively voiced issues related to peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. As a element of solidarity, Vietnam has been instrumental in the development and strengthening of ASEAN's position, contributing significantly to turning Southeast Asia from a divided, and war-confronting region into a region of peace, cooperation and dynamic development. At the same time, Vietnam has actively worked with many member countries to strengthen the UN through resolutions, decisions and specific measures to promote the role of the UN in peacekeeping and international security.

Vietnam has always supported UN primary goals, such as the maintenance of peace and security against the arms race, disarmament, prevention and settlement of disputes and conflicts, strengthening friendship between peoples. Vietnam is also a signatory to many international treaties initiated by the United Nations.

Viet Nam has actively contributed to promoting the most fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, particularly the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations; at the same time, always shown its responsibility, objectivity, support for the protection of legitimate interests of parties; strengthened information sharing with developing countries on a number of issues, contributing to joint efforts aimed at a more transparent and democratic UN Security Council.

Viet Nam has proactively and actively coordinated with other countries in the Non-aligned Movement to fight for and protect fundamental principles of the UN Charter, such as the principle of sovereign equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, non use or threat to use force, peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts through promotion of dialogue on the basis of the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law; protected the interests of developing countries, contributed to the maintenance of world peace and security, and created a favorable environment for the development of nations.

As a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1998, Vietnam participated in negotiations and was one of the first countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, joined the Disarmament Conference (DC) as a member; involved in the preparations for major UN conferences, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, the Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms, among others. All these efforts show Viet Nam's consistent proactive and active contribution to the common work of the United Nations. In particular, during its terms as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2008-2009), twice as the chairman of the UN Security Council, Vietnam performed well its role, from conducting important meetings of the Security Council, creating high consensus in most of the resolutions adopted by the Council to the introduction of many important initiatives, such as open discussion on the situation in the Middle East, on peace and security issues. These activities demonstrate Viet Nam's effective participation and responsibility in world peace and security, contributing to solving many important issues of the world and regions, fighting for the protection of national interests in the principle of respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes and assurance of legitimate interests of members.

Since 1996, Vietnam has made contributions to the United Nations Peacekeeping Fund, which represents responsibility for the international community in general and for the protection of world peace and security in particular. Joining the UN peacekeeping force is a new step forward for Vietnam in the international integration process, demonstrating the role and responsibility of a member of the UN, making a practical contribution to peace and security in the world. So far, Vietnam has been among 124 nations participating in the UN peacekeeping forces.

Second, Vietnam has fulfilled its work as a member state of the United Nations.

As a member of the UN, Viet Nam has always striven to fulfill its mission, actively participated in policy-making mechanisms and forums organized by the United Nations in close collaboration with the UN agencies to build effective and increasingly strategic long-term, comprehensive programs and proactively advanced new initiatives.

With high sense of responsibility for the reform of the UN , Viet Nam has shown a proactive, positive attitude in the pilot implementation of the "One UN" model within the framework of the One UN Initiative. And in fact, over the years, this initiative has gained certain results, enhancing the cohesion and effectiveness of Vietnam's support to the UN system. This is also the practical contribution of Vietnam to the process of reforming the current UN system and the basis for a more effective cooperation between Vietnam and the UN in the coming time. The Green One UN House in Viet Nam is the first of its kind in the world, and Vietnam's unique contribution to UN reform.

In particular, Vietnam’s organization of the UN high-level meeting for the Euro-Asia region on improving cooperation on transit, trade facilitation and the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development in early March 2017 marked its contribution in the last 40 years since joining the world's largest organization and the second year when Vietnam takes on the role of a member of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSSOC) in the 2016 - 2018 term.

It can be said that Vietnam’s contributions to the United Nations are vivid expression of the open diversified and multilateral foreign policy of the Party and the State of Vietnam; affirming Vietnam's commitment to actively contribute, build, cooperate with responsibility for UN’s operation in the common interests of the world; at the same time, demonstrating the effective and creative application of renovation, creating favorable conditions for Vietnam to uplift its prestige and position in the international arena. The UN and the international community have repeatedly praised Vietnam's multi-faceted contributions, considering Vietnam as the most efficient user of development assistance which has successfully implemented UN programs, such as projects on population and children, gender equality, hunger elimination, poverty reduction, tripartite cooperation, becoming a leading country in achieving goals set by the United Nations, namely the completion of several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the active implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Vietnam's participation and contributions in the past 40 years have helped consolidate, maintain and protect the peaceful environment in the region and the world, asserting its capacity as an independent and equal nation in the international community, fighting and protecting national rights in the world's important forums and at the same time, integrating its economy into the region and the world’s economy.

Vietnam’s 40-year membership of the UN has also helped Vietnam gain experiences in multilateral diplomacy, namely persistently setting highest store to national interests with the cross-cutting goal of maintaining independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, socialist political system in association with creating the most favorable international environment for national socio-economic development. Another lessons are consistently promoting cooperation in the principle of mutual respect, mutual benefit, combating manifestations harmful to national interests, contributing to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress in the world; persevering in its efforts, flexibility, combining internal and external strength to create the synergy for the country, capitalizing on the potential of the UN to maximize cooperation efficiency in all fields.

Amid deep, rapid, unpredictable changes in the world, together with the UN and its partners, Vietnam has always affirmed the role of the United Nations in resolving world issues while confirming that Vietnam is a reliable and responsible partner of the international community and strives for common interests of peoples for peace and prosperity in the region and the world.

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This article was published on Communist Review No. 899 (September 2017)

Hoa Nguyen