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Vietnam shows great determination to fulfill new international missions
20/3/2020 10:40' Send Print
The female soldiers of the No. 2 Military Field Hospital set out to join the UN peacekeeping force, and they are ready to fulfill the tasks assigned by the Party and the Vietnam People’s Army. Photo: VNA

Enhancing the position in the international arena

A decade ago, during the 2008 - 2009 tenure, as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council (E10), Vietnam proved itself to be responsible, capable to rise up contributing to UN Security Council, one of the 6 main UN principal agencies, assigned to the leading role in maintaining international peace and security. That capacity and prestige continued to be enhanced when, on June 7, 2019, Vietnam once again had the credibility of the UN General Assembly to take the E10 position for the 2020 - 2021 tenure. To Vietnam, this event was extremely significant since it reflects not only the recognition by the international community for Vietnam’s position regarding its renovation and international integration, but also their confidence and expectation on Vietnam’s responsible contributions to the regional and international peace and security in the upcoming years. That the countries in the Asia-Pacific region chose Vietnam as the only candidate for the E10 position for the 2020 - 2021 tenure also proved that:

Firstly, the great support and credibility from regional countries towards Vietnam, a country with the foreign policy line of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development; multilateralization and diversification of external relations, proactive and active international integration. Vietnam always desires to further contribute to the international community's joint efforts to uphold international law and the UN Charter, promote the role of the United Nations and multilateral institutions, especially to maintain the international peace and security. This not only affirms the sound foreign policy of the Party and State of Vietnam, but also demonstrates Vietnam’s rising stance and prestige in the international arena which enable Vietnam to promote its role at the UN and other international organizations with a view to carrying out the external task of maintaining a peaceful environment and creating favorable international conditions for the construction, development, and defense of the nation.

Secondly, the increasingly important role of Vietnam in trade and international diplomacy as well as in regional security. Although previously being isolated and embargoed, Vietnam has so far established good relationships with 5 permanent members of UN Security Council (P5), played a key role in regional organizations and forums such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia - Europe Meeting (ASEM), International Organization of la Francophonie (Francophonie), and strengthened its ties with Africa, and the area of Latin America. Moreover, Vietnam has become an official party to the Biological Weapons Convention (in 1998); one of the first countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (in 1996); a member of the Conference on Disarmament (in 1996); a member of UN Peacekeeping Forces in South Sudan (2014), etc. In recent years, Vietnam has succeeded in organizing and hosting several important regional and international events such as APEC Economic Leaders’ Week (in 2017), World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN in 2018), second North Korea - United States Summit (in March 2017), etc. All of these have shown Vietnam’s effort, determination, responsibility and proactive approach to orientate and shape regional and international mechanisms, contributing to enhancing its role and prestige in the international arena.

Thirdly, Vietnam is a trustworthy country who always abides by international laws including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Vietnam has actively participated in the negotiations to establish UNCLOS 1982 and devoted a great deal of effort in executing it. Prior to the establishment of UNCLOS 1982, Vietnam had actively applied relevant provisions of international laws to introduce domestic legal documents on the sea. In 1977, Vietnam enacted the “Government Declaration on Vietnam’s waters” which marked the 200-nautical-mile-wide exclusive economic zone that comprised not only fishing rights but also sovereignty and other jurisdictional rights. The Declaration was introduced while UNCLOS 1982 was being drafted, reflecting the trend advocated by the majority of nations in the Third UN Conference on Law of the Sea from 1973 to 1982 and showed the contribution of Vietnam to legalizing advances of international laws. With this Declaration, Vietnam along with other countries such as Kenya, Myanmar, Cuba, Yemen, Dominica, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and Seychelles is considered as pioneers to make the concept of exclusive economic zone become a customary concept and later an important one in UNCLOS 1982. Vietnam always highly values and expects a new legal order on seas and oceans(1). Participating in E10 is a great opportunity for Vietnam to voice and express its concerns for issues relating to conflicts over East Sea and international maritime laws; as well as to prove its capabilities and dedication to maintain maritime security and regional stability of peace, security, and development.

Besides the above advantages, when undertaking E10 for the 2020 - 2021 tenure, Vietnam has to face countless challenges. For example, the world situation has changed dramatically compared to that of 10 years ago; the volume of work handled by the Security Council has boomed considerably; the agenda has increasingly been busier; the consultation and public meetings have been longer than previous ones; and standing members of the Security Council have more personnel and experience, etc. They all can be considered as major challenges for Vietnam in preparing for speculated issues in the 2020 - 2021 tenure in advance. Furthermore, the fact that standing members have the right of veto can delay efforts to reach a consensus on a given issue. The disagreement among members of the Security Council can also pose a great challenge for E10 in general and Vietnam in particular especially as a member and the Chairman of the Security Council when it has to chair and express our standpoint in divided issues among P5 nations, some of which are strategic or comprehensive partners of Vietnam.

To Vietnam, albeit being a significant period of time, the 2020 - 2021 tenure is seemingly stressful since the country has faced up with a number of burning issues in both regional and global scales. Vietnam has become a non-permanent member of UN Security Council and the chair of ASEAN. Hence, this country is likely to shoulder its great responsibility for performing its role in the region and in the international arena, contributing to handling collective challenges of the region and the globe. Those obstacles, however, are great opportunities enabling Vietnam to serve as a bridge connecting the UN and the Pacific - Asian mechanisms and outstandingly play its core role in orientating, reconciling in forums as well as in multilateral organizations which are strategically important to the development of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s preparation with its new position

Vietnam’s becoming a non-permanent member of UN Security Council in the 2020 - 2021 tenure represents a significant landmark in the implementation of the Resolution of the 12th Congress of the Party, the orientation of the multilateral diplomacy - "proactively participating and promoting Vietnam’s role in multilateral mechanisms, especially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations" and Directive No. 25/CT-TW on "Promoting and raising the level of multilateral foreign relations by 2030" issued by the Party Central Committee's Secretariat on 8-8-2018 , which sets out the goals, points of view, key tasks and solutions for the next 10 years in all areas(2).

Notwithstanding the dominant trend of peace, cooperation and development, the world has continuously encountered numerous challenges in terms of peace and security. Wars, conflicts, terrorism, poverty, and underdevelopment remain ongoing threats in many regions. The rise of nationalism, populism, geopolitical competition among big countries has negative effects on the security and development of every country. Having survived a longlast wars, Vietnam fully appreciate the value of peace. Specifically, Vietnam has experiences and readiness to promote international peace, security, basing on basic principles of International Law and UN Charter.

Since 2010, upon successfully accomplishing its role of E10 in the 2008 - 2009 tenure, Vietnam has run for the E10 position for the 2020 - 2021 tenure. To get the highest number of votes, over the past decade, Vietnam has proactively launched its campaign in different forms. Especially, Vietnam has referred to its campaign in the discussion of high-level leaders of the State and the Party with their counterparts in meetings, international conferences, etc. Furthermore, Vietnam has also consulted country members of the UN Security Council at all levels in New York and their capitals (especially in Russia, China), then established cooperative, reliable and straightforward relationships with the U.S.A, British, France, etc.

Over the past decade, through the UN, Vietnam has effectively introduced other countries to its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and mutual development, fulfilled its role as a reliable friend and partner, a responsible member of the international community and presented its comprehensive achievements during the renovation. Additionally, Vietnam has proactively joined the UN peacekeeping operations. In October of 2018 Vietnam firstly deployed 63 army officers in Military Level 2 Field Hospital in South Sudan and pledged to continuously join the the UN peacekeeping forces at the same time. Vietnam also joined UN Human Rights Council in 2014 - 2016 tenure. At the end of 2018, Vietnam was elected to the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The new role proved Vietnam’s strong commitment to integrating into the international community in numerous realms, especially in trade. All the aforementioned points gave other countries a comprehensive insight into Vietnam, a country able to proactively, responsibly contribute to the joint work of the UN.

Benefited from experiences gained during recent multilateral diplomacy in general, lessons in numerous aspects learned through taking the role of E10 (the 2008 - 2009 tenure) in particular, Vietnam has taken imperative preparations in advance in order to fulfill the mission, and to play a more proactive, active and comprehensive role in discussing burning issues at UN Security Council in the 2020-2021 tenure, namely:

Firstly, thoroughly scrutinize and prepare documents on the Security Council's agenda, notably complicated subjects; routinely update latest events in the world, likewise Vietnam's guidelines and viewpoints on these matters; and propose initiatives enabling Vietnam to boost its presence in UN peacekeeping operations.

Secondly, implement the work of training, improving the proficiency and competence of cadres working in multilateral diplomacy, which helps Vietnamese multilaterally-diplomatic officials become more qualified and experienced in terms of political virtue, specialization, experiences, fluency in foreign languages, effective and professional operation in forums, and able of drawing up and mediating in resolutions, consultations, international conferences, etc.

Thirdly, effectively build information mechanism and coordinate intersectionally; decentralize decisions and ensure leadership's direction of activities of the Vietnam Permanent Mission at the UN - the "frontline" unit which directly participates in the missions of the Security Council; firmly grasp the situation and ensure regular information au pair with host countries; consult and exchange experiences with other nations, UN agencies as well as international research organizations.

Vietnam has always taken the initiative in international integration, taken part in multilateral international activities, made legal, organizational, human and material preparations to engage in the UN peacekeeping operations_Photo:

Priorities need implementing

Priorities to enhance the effectiveness of UN Security Council, to encourage dialogues held for peaceful solutions to conflicts, and to aid third-world countries to share their ideas in every field of this unit, which Vietnam strongly highlights for the 2nd time elected into E10, include:

Firstly, avert conflicts, make use of diplomatic prevention, peacefully settle disputes and promote the implementation of Chapter VI of the UN Charter; reform the Security Council ‘s working procedure, reinforce the role of regional organizations.

Secondly, put forward and enhance initiatives to contribute to decision-making on important world issues. Furthermore, consolidate the role of multilateralism and reclaim the demand for boosting multilateralism, respect international law, and address global as well as peace-and security-related issues. Priority is given to safeguarding civilians and fundamental infrastructures in armed conflicts. Vietnam also pledged to give priority over resolving conflict consequences, especially handling of unexploded ordnance/mines, contributing to the cause of reconstruction and socio-economic development. Last but not least, Vietnam also has preference for UN peacekeeping operations.

Thirdly, keep track of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and Development Goals, namely tackling environmental issues, upholding the voice of farmers and fishermen, and committing to dialogues and cooperation to prevent conflicts and peacefully settle international disputes.

Fourthly, promote Vietnam’s role as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure and Chairman of the ASEAN 2020, to promote UN’s cooperation with other regional and subregional organizations, including ASEAN. Vietnam is also expected to make its positive contribution, through regional and international dialogues, to solving the problem of nuclear power on the Korean peninsula and the one of the refugee community in Myanmar.

Fifthly, with regard to UN peacekeeping operations, implement a policy of positive and active international integration, participate in multilateral international activities. Vietnam is in full preparation of legal, organizational, human and material domains to participate in UN peacekeeping operations. Since 2014, Vietnam has established Vietnam Peacekeeping Training Center (now Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations) with the task of "researching, consulting, training, preparing, deploying and commanding all Vietnam People's Army’s forces engaged in UN peacekeeping operations". Vietnam has also worked with numerous countries in the field of peacekeeping to cooperate, exchange expertise, experience and run training courses, etc. Through this multilateral activity, Vietnam has also derived support of equipment, economy, human resource training, etc. to perform peacekeeping operations. These are also very practical and useful cooperation activities to share experiences and contribute to providing Vietnam’s "green beret" with the crucial knowledge and skills to fulfil tasks at the UN Mission. In 2015, during his visit to Vietnam, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon affirmed: “Regarding the results that Vietnamese officers have done in the field of UN peacekeeping operations, I only have a word to say, "Great!".

Although it is time we shared our experience with the international community, Vietnam needs to keep itself open-minded, ready to learn from other countries in the region and in the world. Additionally, it is vital that Vietnam coordinate properly with other permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council to achieve the strongest consensus while also expressing its views on issues that the Security Council discusses like all other member states. Addressing security-related issues on the basis of respecting international law would be Vietnam’s most significant contribution to the Security Council.

The opportunity for Vietnam to reach a new position and new level is widely opening up although challenges still remain. With the experience gained from the 2008 - 2009 tenure, the support from international community, and its determination, Vietnam, as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, for the 2020 - 2021 tenure, is fully capable of successfully fulfilling the new international missions, deserving the trust and expectation of all countries supported and voted for Vietnam./.

Source: Communist Review (No 926, September 2019)

Nguyen Thi Hong VanDepartment of Science, Strategy and Police History, Ministry of Public Security