Vietnam’s proactive role on global stage

April 08, 2021 | 07:00
With its growing international prestige and great success in the first half of its journey last year as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure, Vietnam has begun its role for the second time as chair of the organisation in April with great hopes of contributing more to the international community.
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Vietnam was congratulated by international friends on its vote onto the UNSC in June 2019

The date of June 7, 2019 became a memorable landmark for Vietnamese diplomacy when the country was officially elected during the 73rd session of the General Assembly in New York to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member for the 2020-2021 tenure with 192 out of 193 votes in favour.

Vietnam’s new term in the UNSC is the second after its successful one in the council in 2008-2009, during which the country’s contributions and performance of the duties were widely recognised and appreciated.

The event in 2019 earned a rain of congratulations from international friends and partners. One of the earliest came from Burhan Gafoor, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN.

“Congratulations Vietnam on being elected to the UN Security Council with the highest number of votes. Honoured to cast for Vietnam, on behalf of Singapore,” he tweeted. “Singapore has excellent ties with Vietnam and we are confident that they will serve with distinction.”

UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward also congratulated Vietnam on his Facebook page, saying the UK will strengthen cooperation with Vietnam. Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Norikazu Suzuki shared joy over Vietnam’s election to the UNSC, and hoped the Southeast Asian country will promote its leading role in ensuring global peace and stability.

The TV channel of the UN also had a live broadcast of the voting, with big salvos of applause congratulating Vietnam with brightening smiles. Many international friends supported Vietnam, showing the country’s increasing prestige in the international arena.

“We will do our utmost to successfully fulfill all duties as a UNSC member,” stated Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh after the vote. “Vietnam is proud to be a responsible member of the UN. Through the four decades that Vietnam has been part of the UN, we have always been committed to its noble goal to build a world of peace, security, and development.”

A good performer

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"We will boost the implementation of anti-conflict measures, pay more attention to humanitarian issues and protection of civilians, and also address the aftermaths of armed conflicts." Dang Dinh Quy Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations

Last year, after Vietnam and Belgium completed their chairmanship month in January and February, respectively, when the COVID-19 pandemic became serious. The UN headquarters closed its doors, with the UNSC halting its meetings. The issue then was how the council could continue its activities given an expected rise in challenges for international peace and security due to the pandemic, especially in regions with armed conflicts. Then after two weeks of open discussions, the UNSC agreed on a new working method, with all meetings to be held online and flexible and creative activities, such as document-based voting and online negotiations.

Amid complicated economic and political situations in 2020 caused by COVID-19, with fierce strategic competition between powers and escalating tensions in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Latin America, the UNSC handled a huge volume of work, including nearly 400 meetings at ambassadorial level, and hundreds of working sessions to pass 100 documents on 68 issues set in its agenda.

Realising the consistent foreign policy of independence and self-reliance, and being an active and responsible member of the international community, Vietnam has completed its missions, and attained remarkable achievements at the UNSC.

In its capacity as UNSC chair in January, Vietnam organised an open discussion on promoting compliance with the UN Charter in maintaining international peace and security, and the UNSC meeting on the role of ASEAN in enhancing cooperation between the US and regional organisations.

The events raised the international community’s awareness of the significance of the UN Charter and international laws amidst formidable challenges.

Vietnam also provided leadership when organising a meeting with 10 incumbent and five newly-elected non-permanent members, discussing efforts to develop an effective UNSC, and an international conference on promoting women’s role in building and consolidating peace.

Additionally, Vietnam proactively handled issues raised at the UNSC based on its independent, self-reliant, and responsible spirit, and support for compliance with the UN Charter and the principles of international law, including respect for independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and settlement of disputes by peaceful means.

“Almost all UN member states and the international community have held that the UNSC has completed a good job in 2020. Within such shared efforts, Vietnam has made very positive contributions to conflict prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes,” Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, told VIR. “Vietnam has also contributed to improving the methods of work of the UNSC: enhancing engagement with regional arrangements in the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the UN Charter, protection of civilians and critical civilian infrastructure in armed conflict, and much more besides.”

Quy added that Vietnam has created an imprint via organising an open discussion and adopting the chairmanship declaration on respect for the UN Charter in protecting international peace and security, with the record number of participating member states in the UN’s 75-year history.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh also highlighted that in last December, Vietnam also successfully hosted an international meeting on women, peace, and security with the participation of more than 400 delegates from nearly 90 nations and many important inter-government international organisations and non-governmental organisations.

“The nations have given special support and highly valued Vietnam’s strong determination in hosting this big event in the context of the pandemic raging globally. They have also highly valued Vietnam’s role as host for the compilation of the “Hanoi action commitment” proposal which enhances and boost the role of women in all processes of peace. The proposal has been co-sponsored by 75 nations from all regions in the world and circulated as the formal document of the UN,” Minh said.

Major priorities

In April, Vietnam serves as the rotary chairman of the UNSC for the second time during its 2020-2021 tenure as a non-permanent member.

“Vietnam vows to do its best as UNSC chair in this month, contributing to realising the foreign policy set out by the 13th National Party Congress,” Minh said.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), serving on the UNSC is a serious undertaking. In the 2020-2021 tenure, Vietnam will continue contributing to improving the effectiveness of the council, to foster dialogue to help find peaceful solutions to conflicts, and to make the voices of the small countries heard in the work of the council.

“We will give particular focus to conflict prevention, preventive diplomacy, peaceful settlement of disputes, and strengthened implementation of Chapter VI of the UN Charter,” said an MoFA document on Vietnam’s UNSC membership. “We will also improve the methods of work of the council, enhancing engagement with regional arrangements in the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.”

In January last year, as the UNSC chair for the first time, Vietnam held the first UNSC meeting on cooperation between ASEAN and the UN. Currently, Vietnam plans to organise a meeting with UNSC member countries in both in-person and online formats, chaired by senior Vietnamese leaders from Hanoi on April 19.

The UN secretary-general has confirmed attendance, while leaders of ASEAN, the European Union, and the African Union have been invited. Vietnam will work to build a UNSC document which is expected to be adopted at the event.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy told VIR that in 2021, Vietnam will continue attaching importance to priorities it advanced when it joined the UNSC, especially respect for international law and implementation of the principles of the UN Charter.

“We will boost the implementation of anti-conflict measures, pay more attention to humanitarian issues and protection of civilians, and address the aftermaths of armed conflicts, including socioeconomic recovery and tackling consequences caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war,” he said.

“We will also continue boosting issues related to women’s role in peace and security, addressing challenges about climate change in conflicts. Another important issue will be that Vietnam will also beef up peacekeeping operations including those its own ones at the UN,” Quy added.

By Thanh Dat

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