Hanoi (VNA) – On September 20 this year, Vietnam marked the 43rd anniversary of its admission to the United Nations, the world’s largest multilateral organisation.
On that course, Vietnam, from a war-torn and poor country, has established itself as one of the nations taking the lead in realising the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN, receiving praise from international friends.
Relations between Vietnam and the UN have continually been consolidated, and the country has made unceasing efforts to become a trustworthy and responsible member of this organisation.
Milestones in Vietnam’s membership in UN
The UN was officially set up on October 24, 1945 with a view to maintaining international peace and security and promoting friendship among countries on the basis of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
Vietnam expressed its wish to become a member of the UN very early, only four days after this organisation convened the first session on January 10, 1946 in London, the UK.
On January 14, 1946, President Ho Chi Minh, on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam), submitted an application for UN membership.
However, it was not until 31 years later, after weathering countless hardships of the struggle for national liberation, that this intention was realised. At 9 am on September 20, 1977, the flag of Vietnam was raised at a ceremony held at the main hall of the UN headquarters, marking the country’s admission to the UN.
This historic milestone represented the largest multilateral organisation and the international community’s recognition of a Vietnamese state of peace, unity, independence, freedom, and democracy.
Between 1977 and 1986, Vietnam had to simultaneously deal with serious war consequences and reorganise its underdeveloped economy. During that period, the UN actively assisted the country to settle difficulties in various aspects with total aid surpassing 500 million USD.
Vietnam carried out the “doi moi” (renewal) policy between 1986 and 1996. By the late 1980s, the UN’s assistance had accounted for nearly 60 percent of total aid, excluding support from socialist countries, for Vietnam. During this period, the UN’s non-refundable aid topped 630 million USD.
Many members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as international and regional organisaitons, resumed aid provision for Vietnam in the early 1990s. However, the UN still made up 30 percent of external sources’ technical assistance for the country.
Cooperation programmes were considerable sources of support for the Vietnamese Government in making development policies and improving State agencies and their staff’s management capacity. The UN also made valuable contributions to the enhancement of local technical capacity, the development of human resources in science and technology, and the settlement of social issues in the country.
In the 1997 – 2011 period, implementing the foreign policy of multilateralising and diversifying foreign relations and making friends with all nations, Vietnam made use of the UN forum to strengthen ties with UN organisations and expand bilateral and multilateral relations with other states and international organisations.
During that time, Vietnam excellently fulfilled its role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2008 – 2009.
Vietnam actively negotiated and officially became a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1998, took part in the negotiation on and was one of the first signatories of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, and became a participant in the Conference on Disarmament the same year.
Besides, the country also engaged in the preparation for major conferences early such as the review conferences of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 2000, 2005, and 2010; and the conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in 2001 and 2003.
It not only did a good job of attracting assistance from UN organisations but also proactively designed new forms of cooperation. The tripartite cooperation model, firstly on rice farming among Vietnam, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Senegal, has been expanded and applied widely and considered an example for the South-South cooperation.
Vietnam has also shown full and substantive participation in policy-making mechanisms of the UN as seen in its Vice Presidency of the UN General Assembly in 1997 and its membership in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for 1998 – 2000.
During this period, the country actively coordinated with development organisations of the UN to carry out the “One UN” initiative on a trial basis, receiving a high evaluation from sponsors.
Since 2012, within the framework of the “Delivering as One” initiative, the Vietnamese Government and the UN have worked closely together to implement the One Plan 2012-2016, which matches the socio-economic development plan and strategy of Vietnam.
The pilot implementation of the “Delivering as One” initiative has helped improve the efficiency and cohesion of UN agencies’ offices in the Southeast Asian nation.
On January 1, 2014, Vietnam officially became a member of the Human Rights Council for 2014 – 2016. In June the same year, it sent the first personnel to UN peacekeeping activities. It served as a member of the ECOSOC for 2016 – 2018.
In 2017, Vietnam was one of the 52 first states to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It ratified this deal in 2018, becoming the 10th country to do so.
In addition, it has actively taken part in the building and implementation of international treaties of the UN, as well as joint efforts to promote the UN’s role as an equal and effective global multilateral mechanism that meets the common aspirations of humankind.
Not only making active contributions to common efforts to make peace, but Vietnam has also continually highlighted the need to comply with fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, especially the respect for independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; non-interference in internal affairs of other states; and settlement of disputes by peaceful means without using or threatening to use force.
The cooperation between Vietnam and the UN is considered a typical example of development cooperation among UN member states and the UN’s role in promoting international cooperation to deal with economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian issues.
Taking part in UN peacekeeping operations – a noble international mission
Vietnam sent personnel to UN peacekeeping activities for the first time in June 2014. The first two representatives of the country served as liaison officers at the UN mission in South Sudan.
On October 1, 2018, Vietnam deployed the first level-2 field hospital to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. Sixty-three officers and staff members of the second level-2 field hospital left for this mission to replace the first one in November 2019.
Over the past six years, it has sent hundreds of personnel to take part in UN peacekeeping activities. Notably, 61 servicemen and 12 servicewomen have been deployed to the missions in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
In June 2018, the UN recognised the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations as one of the four international training centres in Southeast Asia, which will carry out training under tripartite partnerships (among Vietnam, the UN, and a partner country) in the time ahead.
The choosing of Vietnam as a training venue for UN peacekeeping forces in the region once again reflects the UN’s appreciation of the country’s commitment to and performance in peacekeeping activities.
Making active contributions to UNSC
Vietnam served as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the first time in the 2008 – 2009 tenure, during which it acted as President of this council in July 2008 and October 2009.
This was the first time Vietnam had participated in the UN’s most important agency on international peace and security amid a huge workload facing the council due to the emergence of many complicated security issues, new global security challenges, and negative impacts of the worst economic-financial crisis in the world’s modern history.
During that term, the country played a crucial role in the UNSC, particularly its support for the UN resolution on women, peace, and security.
On June 7, 2019, Vietnam for the second time was elected a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 2020 – 2021, with 192 out of the 193 votes.
The landslide vote demonstrated the international community’s recognition of the country’s active, substantive, and responsible contributions to the UN in general and the UNSC in particular.
Vietnam has defined seven main priorities for its 2020 – 2021 membership, which consist of conflict prevention, preventive diplomacy, and peaceful settlement of disputes in line with Chapter 6 of the UN Charter; reform of the UNSC’s working methods and enhancement of the UNSC’s cooperation with regional organisations under Chapter 8 of the UN Charter; humanitarian issues, and protection of civilians and infrastructure facilities essential for civilians in conflict areas; women, peace, security and children in armed conflicts; settlement of conflict consequences (including post-conflict unexploded ordnance); UN peacekeeping operations; and climate change impacts on peace and security.
Over the past nine months, as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Vietnam has shown proactive and intensive engagement and grasped opportunities to promote its priorities at this council in a more effective manner.
The proactiveness can also be seen in its coordination with eight other non-permanent members to propose the UNSC convene a teleconference on COVID-19 in early April which was the council’s first meeting on this issue.
In addition, Vietnam has also substantively contributed to the negotiation on UNSC documents, meeting common concerns, and highly valued by the international community.
As UNSC President in January 2020, it did a good job of coordinating and chairing UNSC activities and representing the council in relation to states, UN agencies, regional and international organisations, and the media.
The country also left an important mark with the organisation of the UNSC’s open debate on upholding the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh; along with the council’s first session on UN-ASEAN cooperation.
Vietnam’s role and participation in the UNSC have been highly valued by UN officials and other states.
All of these have helped promote the country’s prestige and stature, thus creating prerequisites for it to further bring into play its role, fulfill tasks of its non-permanent UNSC membership, and establish itself as an active and proactive member of the UN and a trustworthy and responsible member of the international community./.