Vietnam demonstrates leadership at top talks

April 21, 2021 | 16:00
As part of its tasks this month as president of the United Nations Security Council, Vietnam is boosting the partnership between the organ and regional organisations, including ASEAN, in a bid to contribute to preventing conflicts and maintaining peace and security far and wide.
1540 p4 vietnam demonstrates leadership at top talks
The main thread of Vietnam’s UNSC presidency this month is on enhancing cooperation in conflict prevention

In its capacity as president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for April 2021, Vietnam on April 19 will organise an open high-level debate regarding enhancing cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organisations in confidence-building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution. It will take place under the agenda item entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security”.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Vietnamese newly-elected State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc will host and deliver a keynote speech at the event.

The MoFA stated that this debate was very important to both Vietnam and the UNSC as “this will be the first time a Vietnamese top leader hosts an event at the UNSC.”

“The online debate will help Vietnam to continue boosting the role of regional organisations and the cooperation between the UN and regional organisations including ASEAN in a bid to maintain peace, stability, and socioeconomic development, and to prevent conflicts,” said a MoFA statement on the event.

“Moreover, the event will help Vietnam materialise its foreign policy set out in the recent 13th National Party Congress, affirming the country’s policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification, and multilateralisation of external relations and active international integration. This will also inherit success reaped by Vietnam in 2020 when it acted as ASEAN chair, with its initiative in organising the UNSC’s first meeting on boosting cooperation between the UN and ASEAN.”

Sharing experiences

On March 25, the permanent representative of Vietnam to the UN sent a letter to the UN secretary-general saying the debate would aim to continuously strengthen cooperation between the UN, particularly the UNSC, and regional and subregional organisations, in conflict prevention and resolution; and to highlight the need for further enhancing and constantly renewing confidence-building measures and dialogue in order to contribute to conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

It will also share experiences and illuminate recent best practices on collaboration between the UN and regional and subregional organisations as well as among various regional organisations in this regard; and to renew shared commitments and further explore measures to promote the role of regional and subregional organisations in conflict prevention and resolution, in conjunction with the work of the UNSC and other UN bodies.

According to the permanent representative of Vietnam to the United Nations, there are many reasons behind this fresh significant Vietnamese initiative at the UNSC.

Specifically, the international community’s efforts towards the maintenance of international peace and security continue to be seriously challenged. The scourge of war still plagues the world today as many regions and countries still experience tensions and instability, often caused by ethnic and racial conflicts, inter-state disputes, transnational organised crime, activities of armed and terrorist groups, among others.

Even five years ago, the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations plainly put it that the international community is failing at conflict prevention. Since 2015, the total number of fatalities resulting from conflicts has reached over 488,000.

Furthermore, the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security is of growing concern. It has not only killed millions, but has also been adding more difficulty to the world’s efforts of maintaining peace and stability in various corners of the world.

Also, “The protraction and the risk of resurgence of conflicts in many areas are putting on display the fact that our current prevention efforts are being seriously hindered. A great number of preventive measures unfortunately have not been able to show their full potential owing to the absence of political will on various occasions. In pursuing such measures as conducting fact-finding missions or issuing early warnings, it is not always the case that the parties concerned show their full readiness,” read the letter to the UN secretary-general.

The United Nations bodies, especially the UNSC, have held discussions with various regional organisations, including the African Union, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the League of Arab States, and ASEAN. These regional organisations have established various mechanisms to promote confidence-building measures in order to establish trust and avoid tensions among regional countries as well as to assist individual member states in this regard.

According to the MoFA, the relations between the UNSC and regional organisations can be featured in many formats, such as periodical provision of information, dialogues to share information and strategies, and working together to build up shared approaches toward issues in order to increase capacity in coordination and response to threats against security and peace.

This will in turn help boost mutual support between the UNSC and regional organisations, and tap into the full potential and comparative advantages of each other.

“Based on the importance of the partnership between the UN in general and the UNSC in particular with regional organisations, Vietnam has considered the relations between the UN and these organisations as one of its prime priorities in its programme on running for a UNSC seat,” said a MoFA official.

“Clearly understanding the relations between the UNSC and regional organisations will be an efficient tool for Vietnam to not only well perform as a UNSC non-permanent member, deserving high confidence from the international community, but also well accomplish the task as president of the UNSC. This will also be a practical contribution to implementing the Party Secretariat’s Directive No.25-CT/TW dated August 2018 on enhancing the multilateral diplomatic work until 2030.”

“Vietnam is of the view that the cooperation between the UN and regional organisations should aim to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, especially the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, respect for sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-interference,” said Ambassador Pham Hai Anh, Chargé d’affaires ad interim of Vietnam to the United Nations.

Fostering UN-ASEAN cooperation

With its second presidency this month, Vietnam has indicated that it will continue to promote cooperation between the UN and regional organisations, including ASEAN.

Denny Abdi, Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam, told VIR that one of Vietnam’s priorities as a non-permanent member in the UNSC is to foster the connection and cooperation between the UN and regional organisations, including ASEAN. During its term, Indonesia also sought to strengthen partnerships between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations.

“I believe that 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,” Abdi said.

“Any problem arising in the region must be addressed through dialogue, and ASEAN is the ideal forum for facilitating the conversation to promote reconciliation. In this regard, I also hope that Vietnam can continue its efforts as ASEAN’s voice in the UNSC in 2021, especially during its presidency this month.”

Last November, the UN General Assembly adopted the ASEAN-UN cooperation resolution with the backing of 110 countries, the highest number of co-sponsors for the resolution since it was first introduced in 2002.

As the ASEAN chair 2020, Vietnam represented the group in drafting and negotiating for the resolution.

Compared to the 2018 version, the 2020 version updates outstanding cooperation outcomes between the UN and ASEAN since 2018, including the achievements of the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action for the 2016-2020 period, and the first-ever discussion of the UNSC on the role of ASEAN in maintaining international peace and security, and the adoption of the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action in the 2021-2025 period.

“The importance of cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations has been recognised since the very first day of the UN as articulated in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. We express our strong support for deepening such cooperation and are pleased to see substantial progress in cooperation between the UN and ASEAN,” said Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations.

“For the UN, ASEAN is a very important, active and reliable partner with outstanding achievements in the field of peace and security. If the UN marks its success in ‘saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war’, ASEAN is recognised for its success in turning Southeast Asia into a region of friendship and cooperation and its crucial role in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and beyond. We believe that ASEAN, with its devotions, efforts and experiences in more than five decades, could make greater contributions to the work of the UN.”

By Khoi Nguyen

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