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|Vietnam was officially declared a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in New York last week, Photo: VNA|
On June 7 during the 73rd session of the General Assembly in New York City, Vietnam was officially elected to the UN Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member for the 2020-2021 tenure, marking a milestone in the country’s ongoing contributions towards the global community.
“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.
“Vietnam is proud to be a responsible member of the United Nations,” he added. “Through the four decades that Vietnam has been part of the UN, we have always been committed to the noble goal of the organisation to build a world of peace, security, and development.”
“We have spared no effort to uphold the UN Charter and international laws, to advance dialogue and co-operation among nations, and to secure peace and promote development for all. We look forward to working with all countries and partners to achieve that ultimate goal,” DPM Minh said.
In May 2018, Vietnam was selected as the only candidate of the Asia-Pacific region for a non-permanent seat at the UNSC for the 2020-21 tenure at a monthly meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group at the UN. Vietnam presented its candidature for the term back in 2009.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), this decision stems from the country’s foreign policy of peace, independence, and self-reliance as well as its respect for, and strong commitment to, the noble purposes and principles of the UN.
“It is also our wish to make a greater contribution to the joint efforts of the international community in upholding international law and the UN Charter, and promoting the role of the UN and multilateral institutions, especially in maintaining international peace and security,” said a MoFA document on Vietnam’s new UNSC membership.
According to the MoFA, serving on the Security Council is a serious undertaking. In the 2020-2021 tenure, Vietnam will make the most of its two years to contribute to improving the effectiveness of the council, to foster dialogue to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts, and to bring the voices of smaller countries onto a bigger platform.
Vietnam will also attach special importance to protection of civilians and critical civilian infrastructures in armed conflict; to peace and security; to women’s rights; to children in armed conflict; and to addressing the aftermaths of armed conflicts, including threats to civilian populations posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war.
In addition, Vietnam will also give particular focus to UN peacekeeping activities, and seeking solutions for responding to and reducing the impact of climate change.
A mark of confidence
Tran Viet Thai, vice head of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies under the MoFA’s Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, told VIR that there are several major reasons behind Vietnam’s wish for a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.
A non-permanent seat on the UNSC is the highest level of international political acclaim a country such as Vietnam can reach. It is also a valuable milestone affirming the Party and the state’s foreign policy of proactive international integration.
A precedent was also set in 2008 and 2009, when Vietnam successfully performed the role of UNSC non-permanent member for the first time. The country played an active and constructive part in a wide range of issues relating to regional conflicts, post-conflict reconstruction, international terrorism, sanctions reviews, peacekeeping operations, and improving the council’s transparency.
There was also the adoption of Resolution 1889 on women, peace, and security which focused on responding to the needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations.
“We did a good job in co-ordinating international relations, and dealt with many complicated and sensitive issues within the UNSC, as well as within the UN, and in the bilateral and multilateral relationship between Vietnam and regional partners,” Thai said. “As a result, Vietnam won great confidence from the international community.”
Today’s global and regional environment is becoming increasingly complicated, and far different from that of a decade ago. The picture of international relations has also significantly changed, especially among the globe’s major powers.
“Thus, Vietnam’s participation in the UNSC is extremely important,” Thai added. “It will help the country further enhance its role and position in the international arena. Also, Vietnam will take advantage of the role to benefit its national interests, which include contributing to peace, security, and stability in the region, and capitalising on new mechanisms during the tenure to serve national development.”
According to Thai, there will be many advantages for the country as a UNSC member.
At the macro level, the Security Council is the most powerful mechanism of the UN, as the global governance mechanism for security, peace, and stability across the entire planet. Thus, with non-permanent membership, Vietnam will be able to raise its voice about the settlement of global security issues. It is a large political advantage not often available to many nations, and so such an advantage must be seized in a timely fashion.
In addition, UNSC membership also means that in the process of solving issues, all nations must seek ideas from Security Council members, especially at events that Vietnam will chair.
Furthermore, non-permanent status also allows Vietnam to have its personnel trained to higher standards. During the tenure, the country will mobilise a great deal of personnel and experts who will have great opportunities in exchanging experience and meeting with international experts. This will, in turn, improve their knowledge in many sectors such as politics, diplomacy, security, and defence, as well as sharpen their skills in lobbying, and monitoring. For instance, Vietnam’s two-year membership in 2008 helped the nation of Myanmar avoid sanctions, leading to the development of a strong relationship between the two nations.
Over the past decade, Vietnam has already served in important policy-making organs of the UN, including the Security Council (2008-2009), the Human Rights Council (2014-2016), the Economic and Social Council (2016-2018), and the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (2013-2017).
Since 2014, Vietnam has also sent military officers to the UN peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Vietnam also deployed a level-2 field hospital to South Sudan in 2018 and engineering units in the near future.