Spurring solidarity and unity

April 08, 2021 | 09:00
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Vietnam is entering its rotating chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council in April for the second time in its non-permanent membership during the 2020-2021 tenure. Do Hung Viet, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Organisations, talked with VIR’s Khoi Nguyen about the priorities for the month.

What are the priority themes for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in April?

spurring solidarity and unity
Do Hung Viet, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Organisations

Under the chair of the council, the April agenda will be quite busy with nearly 30 ambassadorial-level meetings, and the UNSC will have to solve 12 issues in its agenda involving regions from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and North America.

In order to accomplish these activities, Vietnam will make greatest efforts in participating in the activities in an active and responsible manner, ensuring objectivity and transparency, with the settlement of differences among member states. Efforts are also to be made to maintain solidarity and consensus during the process of tackling all issues.

As UNSC chair, Vietnam will boost three prioritised themes: mine/bomb action and sustaining peace – stronger partnerships for better delivery; the role of regional organisations in boosting dialogue and trust-building measures to prevent conflicts; and protection of objects essential to the survival of civilian populations in armed conflicts.

These themes are Vietnam’s consistent priorities in its tenure of participating in the UNSC, suiting the interests and concerns of both Vietnam and the international community.

For example, the problem about the role of regional organisations and cooperation between these organisations with the United Nations are one of the problems receiving attention from the UNSC member states. Reality shows that regional organisations are important partners in settling regional issues, because they have a good understanding of the relations between regional nations as well as regional history and culture. Therefore, they could make specific and practical contributions to the search for solutions to regional problems.

Regarding the settlement of bomb and mine consequences, it is both a global issue and a matter of significance to Vietnam in socioeconomic development and ensuring people’s lives. Statistics have shown that about 60 nations in the world are affected by unexploded ordnances, with around 15,000 people injured or killed annually.

spurring solidarity and unity
The UNSC has maintained crucial meetings even without direct events due to pandemic restrictions

It has been more than a year since Vietnam became a UNSC non-permanent member in January 2020, when it also served as chair of the council. What will be some of the opportunities and difficulties ahead until the end of the tenure?

Since functioning as UNSC chair in January 2020, Vietnam already has some good experiences. It got acquainted with the processes and procedures of the UNSC, and has a good understanding about the council’s role, functions, and duties. Vietnam had skillfully and effectively settled differences among countries, following its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification, and multilateralisation.

Vietnam also has good relations with many nations worldwide, including UNSC permanent members. This has been facilitating the nation to carry out its missions as a UNSC chair for the second time.

Moreover, the UNSC is considered a body with prime importance in maintaining peace and security. Despite differences, the existing trend remains in boosting cooperation in search of solutions, with the shared goal of maintaining peace and stability in the wider world.

Nevertheless, challenges are still there due to complicated developments of global and regional politics and security. Conflicts in interests and strategic competition among big nations will also create difficulties for us to boost consensus at the UNSC. Also, the pandemic has forced the UNSC to shift its meetings and discussions from in-person to online format, which pose certain difficulties to the process of exchange, discussion, and negotiation.

Though online meetings can help save travelling time and facilitate the participation of top leaders, diplomatic activities in general, and those of the UNSC need direct and in-person meetings to solve issues. Thus, online meetings also cause difficulties in the process of exchange and negotiation of UNSC documents.

However, Vietnam enjoyed major experience in holding online conferences during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, so the nation is confident it can excellently perform its role as the UNSC chair in April.

In these complicated times, what contributions can Vietnam make to enhance its role as UNSC chair for the second time?

Despite COVID-19 changing the way the UNSC operates, the council has well adapted to the new normal, and been successful in maintaining its operation since the outbreak appeared. Even without direct meetings, the UNSC has and will still maintain discussions, and make decisions to push the resolution of conflicts in the world.

At the online meetings during this tenure, senior officials from nations including those from Vietnam such as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and other leaders from the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have attended many activities of the UNSC, with speeches demonstrating the major message of Vietnam’s diplomacy on specific issues.

For example, Vietnam has talked about its ideas and contributions in responding to COVID-19 and the impacts of climate change on the world’s peace and security. In another case, Vietnam has also featured its ideas on regional conflicts worldwide, such as those in the Middle East.

Thus it can be said that COVID-19 has had both negative and positive impacts on Vietnam’s participation in the UNSC.

With its experience, we do believe that Vietnam will make greater contributions to the UNSC and successfully organise all related events, while continuing to enhance its own role, status, and prestige at both the UNSC and in the international arena in general.

Key message of Vietnam’s chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council in April 2021

Vietnam is a reliable and responsible partner of the international community. It has always taken the initiative and made increased contributions to the shared activities of the region and the wider world.

Implementing the 13th National Party Congress’ diplomatic policy on taking the initiative in international integration in an active and comprehensive manner, increasingly enhancing the country’s prestige and status in the international arena, Vietnam has been doing its best to accomplish its role as the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020-2021 tenure.

Vietnam is promoting the country’s tradition of friendship, humanity, and solidarity with national consensus, and its aspiration to pursue peace, renewal, and development. It commits to continue its efforts in pushing up dialogues and further contributing to the UNSC in maintaining international peace and security, seeking sound solutions for issues of international concerns based on the international law and the UN Charter. This will meet legitimate interests of nations and head toward building a better and more peaceful and prosperous world.

Stemming from its historical circumstance and realities in national protection and construction, Vietnam can share experiences and make practical contributions to the construction of sustainable peace in the region and the wider world. The construction of sustainable peace is a long process with many phases and it would need a multi-dimensional comprehensive approach involving the participation of partners and all stakeholders.

This approach involves three key efforts. First is maintaining and fostering peace via pushing the construction of trust and dialogues in order to prevent and solve conflicts; and strengthening the roles of regional organisations.

Second is ensuring an environment with safety and crucial infrastructure for people (electricity, water, and schools) in regions and nations with armed conflicts, especially for vulnerable people.

And thirdly, building up peace through the settlement of aftermath of landmines and explosive remnants of war is an action of deep humanism. It is also practically significant to socioeconomic development and long-term stability of people’s livelihoods.

With this spirit, in the second chairmanship of Vietnam at the UNSC in April, Vietnam will host and run activities of the UNSC based on equality, objectiveness, and constructiveness with a direction toward consensus. The country will actively propose initiatives so that it can together with UNSC member states solve important issues concerning international peace and security.

At the same time, Vietnam will also organise a number of key events to be hosted by Vietnam’s senior leaders and leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on prioritised themes. They include mine action and sustaining peace – stronger partnerships for better delivery; the role of regional organisations in boosting dialogue and trust-building measures to prevent conflicts; and protection of objects essential to the survival of civilian populations in armed conflicts.

During the remaining time of the 2020-2021 tenure, Vietnam will continue actively introducing its concerns and priorities into the process of discussion and negotiation, as well as into decisions of the UNSC.

Successfully accomplishing its tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, including serving as UNSC chair twice, will contribute to concretising the policy and direction of diplomacy of the Party and the state, increasing the cooperation between Vietnam and the United Nations and other partners in a deeper and more effective manner, laying a firm foundation for the country’s stronger and more comprehensive international integration in the time to come.

This will also mark the growth of diplomatic staff, especially those engaging in multilateral diplomacy, both in terms of quality and quantity. They stand ready to make greater efforts and grow further in order to undertake new tasks assigned by the Party and the state, deserving the country’s new status and strength after 35 years of doi moi.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Daniel J. Kritenbrink - US Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

Vietnam has been a capable partner during its current term as an elected member of the UNSC. The United States has worked closely and productively with Vietnam and looks forward to cooperating this month as Vietnam holds the rotating presidency. Vietnam is a respected voice not only at the UN but also in ASEAN.

In leading valuable discussions on the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter and on the relationship between the UN and ASEAN, Vietnam has shown its value as a member of the international community. I am confident that Vietnam will continue to pursue our shared vision of a rules-based international order.

Nicolas Warnery - French Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

France and Vietnam have been working well on issues that are on the UNSC agenda. Our countries share many priorities – for example, the protection of vulnerable populations in armed conflicts, especially women and children.

Vietnam has put several priorities on his agenda: fostering the cooperation between the UN and regional organisations such as ASEAN; surmounting bomb and mine consequences, and maintaining sustainable peace; and protecting essential infrastructures for civilians amid armed conflicts.

The UN Security Council agenda over the next weeks will necessarily be affected by the situation in Myanmar. The UN Security Council has already strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protesters in Myanmar, but the situation has since then worsened. The death toll is rising, and Myanmar is sinking even further into tragedy every day as security forces continue to use violence and refuse to return to the path of dialogue. Vietnam, as chair of the UNSC and a prominent member of the ASEAN, can make the link between the efforts led by the UNSC and ASEAN, contributing to tackling this crisis.

Guido Hildner - German Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

Vietnam takes over the chair of the UNSC at a difficult time and has set itself an ambitious programme. The priorities concern central issues of international security and includes the role of regional organisations. This ties in with the Vietnamese ASEAN chairmanship in 2020 and was successfully dealt with during Vietnam’s first UNSC chairmanship in January 2020.

Regional organisations can make a significant contribution to maintaining international peace and security. Strengthening their cooperation with the Security Council is in their interest as well as in the interest of the United Nations.

Vietnam is currently the only ASEAN member state represented on the UNSC and thus has a special role to play. In addition, the country places a number of important humanitarian concerns on the council’s agenda, including mine action, indispensable civilian objects, and sexual violence in conflicts. Germany was also a member of the council last year and worked well and successfully with Vietnam. We wish Vietnam every success.

Kari Kahiluoto - Finnish Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

It is a great honour and at the same time a huge responsibility for Vietnam to hold the UNSC member chairmanship.

I have had the precious chance over the last few years to observe Vietnam’s steady development. I enjoy seeing the development ambition of the country and studying how it is addressing its development path internally and with international stakeholders.

The rotating chairmanship of the UNSC is an excellent opportunity for Vietnam to contribute to global peace and prosperity, and at the same time a good opportunity for the country in heightening its development achievements to the world.

Finland and Vietnam share strong values of support to the multilateral system, the UN, and the World Trade Organization. We are both dependent on successful multilateralism, for security, for our economy, for our wellbeing.

From Finland’s experience, the best way of promoting peace and prosperity lays on creating wellbeing and building healthy socio-political lives for citizens everywhere. Vietnam will benefit from the chairmanship if it continues working hard to promote universal values within the country’s development that would be in turn the example for the world community’s admiration.

Jaya Ratnam - Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

Vietnam has served with distinction on the UNSC since it commenced its term as a non-permanent member.

During Vietnam’s first chairmanship of the council in January 2020, Vietnam leveraged its responsibilities as UNSC chair and ASEAN chair to promote greater ASEAN-UN cooperation. This was well appreciated by ASEAN member states.

Vietnam’s initiative to organise an open debate on upholding the UN Charter was also very timely, given the mounting and complex challenges the international community has been facing. The event contributed to the discourse on strengthening support for international law and promoting respect for the rule of law.

Singapore shares a common interest with Vietnam to uphold ASEAN centrality, promote multilateral collaboration, and strengthen international law. We were therefore very happy to support these initiatives. With its second chairmanship in April 2021, Vietnam has indicated that it will continue to promote cooperation between the UN and regional organisations, including ASEAN. As a like-minded partner and fellow ASEAN member state, Singapore stands ready to work closely with Vietnam.

More broadly, Vietnam has played a constructive and positive role both regionally and globally to advance important agendas related to international development, multilateral cooperation, and peace and security. Singapore is confident that Vietnam will continue to make meaningful contributions to the international community.

Denny Abdi - Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam

spurring solidarity and unity

Vietnam upholds the theme of “Partnership for Sustainable Peace” for its membership in the 2020-2021 UNSC tenure to ensure that the UN and the UNSC work to prevent conflict, build peace, and rebuild and recover post-conflict. This goal is also in line with Indonesia’s chairmanship themes in 2019 and 2020 when Indonesia and Vietnam worked together as non-permanent members. Indonesia believes that peace goes beyond the absence of war and is something we have to strive for, build, cultivate, and nurture.

As two ASEAN members in the council, Indonesia and Vietnam fully recognise the vital and inevitable role of regional organisations in addressing regional issues. Hence, both countries continue to promote the importance of synergies between regional organisations and the UN in maintaining global peace and stability.

The effort to strengthen cooperation between the UN and ASEAN is an excellent attempt to promote confidence-building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution. ASEAN has maintained peace and stability in the region, turning Southeast Asia from a war-torn and divided region into an area of peace and cooperation.

Also, I believe that Vietnam’s second priority of overcoming the consequences of landmines and explosive remnant of wars is crucial for Vietnam as around 18 per cent of its land area remains contaminated. By presenting this issue to the UNSC, we hope that it could take more robust action and help many countries facing this problem. This issue shall remind us all of how dreadful the impact of war is.

Vietnam’s achievements have elevated its image in the international arena. I am confident that Vietnam and Indonesia will continue to work together in promoting dialogue to achieve sustainable peace and security at a regional and global level.

Vietnam’s contributions to the United Nations

Vietnam has served in important policy-making organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council (2008-2009), the Human Rights Council (2014-2016), the Economic and Social Council (2016-2018), the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (2013-2017), and the Security Council (2020-2021).

Vietnam strongly supports multilateral co-operation, with the United Nations at the centre, to promote sustainable development, address climate change, build inclusive societies, and protect and promote human rights. Vietnam is also a party to almost all core human rights treaties, and is seriously fulfilling its obligations.

Besides, building on its successes from the doi moi process and the implementation of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, Vietnam is committed to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly poverty eradication, gender equality, quality education, improved healthcare and well-being for all, inclusive growth and reduced inequality.

Pioneering the “Delivering as One” initiative is Vietnam’s concrete contribution to the United Nations’ efforts in repositioning its development system at country level to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness.

Throughout its membership in the Security Council in 2008-2009 and 2020-2021, Vietnam has played an active and constructive part in the council’s consultations, meetings, and consideration of decisions on a wide range of issues relating to regional conflicts, post-conflict reconstruction, international terrorism, sanctions review, peacekeeping operations, and improving the council’s transparency.

Among the highlights of Vietnam’s contributions are the adoption, during its UNSC chairmanship, of Resolution 1889 on women, peace and security which focused on responding to the needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations and improving the participation of women at all stages of peace processes and its initiative to hold a consultation with the broader United Nations membership on the Council’s Annual Report.

In 2020, one of Vietnam’s most outstanding achievements at the United Nations is the construction and adoption of its resolution at the UN General Assembly on “International Day of Epidemic Preparedness”.

Since 2014, Vietnam has also sent many military officers to the United Nations keeping operations in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Vietnam has also deployed a level-2 field hospital to South Sudan and engineering units in the near future.

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