Fulfilling major roles in the international arena

09:44 | 10/06/2019
Vietnam has been chosen to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the tenure of 2020-2021. To mark the occasion, VIR’s Phuong Hao sat down with Kamal Malhotra, UN resident co-ordinator in Vietnam.
fulfilling major roles in the international arena
Kamal Malhotra, UN resident co-ordinator in Vietnam

As a member of the UN since 1977 and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) a decade ago, how has Vietnam contributed to the UN’s operations over the last 40 years?

Vietnam has been a very consistent supporter of multilateralism, which is what the UN stands for. We feel we can rely on Vietnam as a strong consistent supporter of multilateralism.

Vietnam was already on the UNSC 10 years ago in the 2008-2009 tenure. At the time, Vietnam played an important role, contributing to a resolution on women, peace, and security which I think was a landmark resolution in the UNSC. Vietnam has been also increasing its role in global peacekeeping. Last year, Vietnam sent its first peacekeeping assistance to South Sudan.

Last November, Deputy Minister of Defence Nguyen Chi Vinh and I participated in a UN conference where we laid out some challenges and also potential strategies for Vietnam. We think Vietnam can contribute much more to peacekeeping by enabling units dealing with healthcare and hospitals.

I know Vietnam is also keen to participate in the area of engineering and we are glad that Vietnam looks at contributing polices. We have been having discussions with the Ministry of Public Security, but we think Vietnam now needs to focus a lot on long-term strategy where more and more people are trained in the standards that are required for international peacekeeping.

Besides, Vietnam has a solid commitment to continue increasing its role in global peacekeeping. Vietnam has also participated in the UN Human Rights Council during 2014-2016. By the end of last year, Vietnam was elected to the UNCITRAL – the UN Commission on International Trade Law – which is a new role for a six-year term, starting this year.

This shows Vietnam’s commitment to integration, particularly trade integration, and following international laws in trade and economic matters. So there are a number of areas in which Vietnam is increasingly contributing and participating in the UN and globally.

There is a lot to be done, but Vietnam has shown an interest in participating more actively and it is one of my top priorities to support Vietnam in the years ahead.

In 2020, Vietnam will also be the chair of the ASEAN, alongside the position as non-permanent member of the UNSC. Which challenges would Vietnam face when fulfilling the two international missions?

This is a very challenging time for Vietnam. There are a lot of major global and regional issues. Vietnam will have a huge responsibility, partly to ensure synergy between global government bodies like the UN and regional bodies like the ASEAN, particularly on critical regional issues that are confronting this part of the world.

It is a very divided UNSC, dealing with a much more challenging period globally than it has been for a long time. Some people feel multilateralism is under threat. It is very important that the UNSC and Vietnam come up with a strong defence of multilateralism. We will count on Vietnam to play a constructive role on major issues that the council is dealing with, which include North Korea.

Vietnam was recently the venue for the summit between US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un. Since North Korea is one of the top agenda items for the UNSC, we hope that Vietnam can play a constructive role there.

There are other big issues that are confronting the ASEAN and the UNSC, like Myanmar. I think Vietnam will have to play an important role also on Myanmar at both the ASEAN and the UNSC. There are issues to do with global peacekeeping which the council will be dealing with on a regular basis.

Vietnam will have more credibility now to speak on these issues because it is contributing more, but I think in the next two years Vietnam will have to significantly increase its contribution to global peacekeeping to be more credible to talk about these issues.

Vietnam should also share its hard-earned experience in post-conflict recovery at the UNSC.

These are only some of the areas that I have identified for Vietnam to prioritise in the UNSC, many of them are relevant also to its role as the chair of the ASEAN.

I think that there is a lot of potential for the two roles to come together and I think Vietnam is in a unique position because very few countries have an opportunity to serve in the UNSC at the same time they’re chairing a regional body.

Do you have any suggestion to help the Vietnamese government fulfil its missions and promote its image?

I think that Vietnam is now becoming more confident about its role in the region and the world and I think that is a good thing.

This is the time for Vietnam to share its experiences with the rest of the world through the South-South Co-operation modalities: its experiences in post-conflict recovery and development, in achieving the Millennium Development Goals well before time, its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and its role in global peacekeeping – which is a wonderful story for a country that was at war for so long to now be contributing to global peacekeeping and peace building.

I think this is the time for Vietnam to come out and share its experience, but also remain open to learn from other countries in the region and globally.

I also believe that the UN, which has been a strong partner of Vietnam for the last 40 years, will continue under my leadership here to remain a strong partner for Vietnam in its new role in the coming years.

Nguyen Quoc Dung - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

fulfilling major roles in the international arena

Vietnam will be the chair of the ASEAN along with being a non- permanent member of the UNSC. This is a good combination although the government and ministries will have to work very hard because we will hold two important positions at the same time.

However, these positions support each other. In the role of the ASEAN chair, we can contribute better to the activities of the UNSC. Vietnam’s voice is the point of view of the ASEAN, helping the UN gain a better outlook on the region. In contrast, we can ensure the ASEAN’s priorities under our chairmanship are ­carried out with stronger ­support from the international community.

Some people may think that being a non-permanent member brings Vietnam only hard work and no profits but actually, it will create an important prestige, voice, and role in the world. Thanks to this, we can develop our bilateral ­relations and increase our role in multilateral forums. Then, we can gain the national ­benefits.

For example, we can raise our voice about the issues of our country to make use of support from the international community, and we can also have more personnel trained.

Pham Quang Vinh - Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

fulfilling major roles in the international arena

Vietnam can contribute its ­responsibility to peace and ­security in the world, and both create and promote international co-operation.

Today, Vietnam’s position has changed. We have been through the doi moi and integration period and it’s clear that we have a big position in the international ­community in terms of ­development goals and peace, and sustainability of the region and the world, which are highly ­appreciated by other countries.

Although peace and development are still the biggest ­priorities, there are more ­complications with competition among big countries, ­conflicts, and differing views on peace and security. We have to be ready to be consulted by member countries of the ­Security Council and other non-permanent members, as well as countries where ­troubles exist so that we can have the best recommendations and resolutions.

There is also the issue of materials, policies, and human resources, particularly those directly working between Hanoi and the UNSC itself. It’s important to create a harmonious exchange of information ­between people in the capital and those in the council.

Ibnu Hadi - Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam

fulfilling major roles in the international arena

It’s a heavy duty to be a non-permanent member of the UNSC, but as a neighbouring country and strategic ­partner, Vietnam must be congratulated on the achievement. As Vietnam being a non-permanent member, we can co-operate with each other to handle global political and security issues with the aim of a better world.

As for the ASEAN chair role which Vietnam will take up in 2020, there are a lot of targets that should be met, not only in the political and security co-operation, but also in economic as well as social and cultural co-operation.

Over the years, Vietnam has shown the world its ­impressive achievements in terms of economic growth and social development progress based on many ­indicators, including the knowledge of international community. Therefore, I ­believe that Vietnam can not only show the rest of the world its ability, but also ­collaborate and share its ­perspectives to ASEAN countries and the world.

I believe that Vietnam can play its active role. The country has already shown that it cares about global ­issues, so in this position Vietnam can offer a very good contribution to the world.

Based on MasterCMS Ultimate Edition Ver 2.8 2018