Hanoi (VNA) – On September 19, 1995, the National Assembly (NA) of Vietnam officially became a member of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO), the predecessor of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA). Since then, it has increasingly made proactive and active contributions to the development of this regional body.
Integrating into the world is an inevitable trend of the era. That’s why after the south liberation and national reunification in 1975, the NA joined the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in 1979 and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF) in 1991. Its admission to AIPO in 1995 was another step of international integration of the Vietnamese NA.
In the early 1990s, the situation in Southeast Asia witnessed many positive developments with the growing trend of peaceful dialogue to build a region of stability, cooperation, and development.
The Vietnamese parliament attended an AIPO general assembly for the first time in 1992, when a delegation led by NA Vice Chairman Phung Van Tuu took part in the 13th AIPO General Assembly, held in Jakarta from September 21 to 26, as a guest of host Indonesia.
In 1993, a 13-member AIPO delegation led by Speaker of Malaysia’s lower house Tan Sri Dato Mahamed Zahir paid an official visit to Vietnam from February 1 to 10, marking a new step of development in Vietnam-AIPO relations and reflecting AIPO members’ readiness to foster ties with the Vietnamese legislature.
As an observer, the NA delegations led by Vice-Chairman Dang Quan Thuy and deputy head of the NA’s Committee for External Relations Tran Van Phac respectively participated in the 14th AIPO General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from September 19 to 26, 1993 and the 15th AIPO General Assembly in Manila, the Philippines, from September 19 to 24, 1994.
On September 7, 1995, with AIPO member parliaments’ consensus, Speaker of the Singaporean Parliament Tan Soo Khoon, who was also Chair of the 16th AIPO General Assembly then, made an official trip to Vietnam and handed over a letter to NA Chairman Nong Duc Manh, inviting the Vietnamese NA to join AIPO. This demonstrated AIPO’s respect for the parliament of the country.
In September 1995, an NA delegation led by Chairman Nong Duc Manh paid an official visit to Singapore and attended the admission ceremony of the Vietnamese NA as the sixth member of AIPO at this organisation’s 16th general assembly from September 18 to 23. The event marked the first time in nearly two decades AIPO had a new member.
Together with parliamentary leaders of five AIPO members, NA Chairman Nong Duc Manh signed a document recognising the Vietnamese NA as an AIPO member. After that, a ceremony was held to raise the national flag of Vietnam as an official member of AIPO in the presence of hundreds of delegates and reporters of domestic and foreign press agencies. This historic event marked a new development in the Vietnamese NA’s relations with parliaments of other Southeast Asian nations.
Proactively contributing to AIPA
As an official member of AIPO, which is later AIPA, the Vietnamese NA has always shown its high sense of responsibility, proactiveness, and activeness in contributing to the development of the regional organisation.
At the inter-parliamentary forum’s activities, the legislature of Vietnam has helped enhance the country’s friendship and cooperation with nations in and outside the region.
Via parliamentary diplomacy, Vietnam has had opportunities to discuss with and persuade ASEAN parliamentarians to join efforts in building an ASEAN Community. Within the AIPO/AIPA framework, it also had chances to talk to partner countries like Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the European Parliament about issues of common concern.
Besides, the Vietnamese NA has also actively supported, assisted, and shared experience with other parliaments in joining AIPA and organising general assemblies in their countries.
It has proposed a number of initiatives to promote the reform of AIPA’s organisation and working methods such as convening meetings of the Women Parliamentarians of AIPO (WAIPO), institutionalising the frequent exchange between AIPA and ASEAN, reducing the number of topics for discussion at sessions of general assemblies and committees, and holding meetings of AIPO member parliaments’ secretaries-general on the same occasion with AIPO general assemblies to share experience and information.
Within the AIPO-AIPA framework, the Vietnamese NA has also hosted many specialised conferences such as a conference on the role of legislative bodies in the face of the financial crisis in 1999, a conference on legislative cooperation in combating the trafficking of women and children in 2006, the one on women parliamentarians’ role in lawmaking in 2009, another on post global financial-economic crisis and sustainable development in 2010, along with the first and seventh meetings of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee to Combat Drug Menace in 1999 and 2010.
In particular, the parliament of Vietnam successfully held the 23rd AIPO General Assembly from September 8 to 13, 2002 and the 31st AIPA General Assembly from September 19 to 25, 2010.
The AIPA 23 adopted 33 resolutions, 20 of which were proposed by Vietnam. Meanwhile, the AIPA 31 passed 22 resolutions on a number of regional issues in terms of politics, security, economy, culture, and society that attracted great attention at that time.
Ready for the successful organisation of AIPA 41
On the rotational basis, the Vietnamese NA is acting as AIPA Chair for the third time, for 2019-2020, and held the 41st AIPA General Assembly via videoconference from September 8 to 10.
The AIPA chairmanship this year is considered of critical importance since, in 2020, ASEAN countries have been reviewing the five-year development of the ASEAN Community, which took shape in 2015 and gaining experience for the next five years. 2020 is also a very special year for Vietnam as the country is concurrently serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Chair of ASEAN, and Chair of AIPA.
As AIPA Chair in 2020, the parliament of Vietnam has promoted the reform of AIPA activities to raise the organisation’s stature and role in the ASEAN Community building. Via activities within the AIPA framework, Vietnam has continued helping to strengthen AIPA’s cooperation with ASEAN and other international organisations and multilateral cooperation mechanisms so as to promote the implementation of commitments and plans related to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
Right since taking over the AIPA chairmanship for 2019-2020, the Vietnamese NA has made active preparations for AIPA meetings, especially the AIPA 41.
Notably, activities since the beginning of 2020 include an online dialogue between ASEAN and AIPA leaders within the framework of the 36th ASEAN Summit on June 26, the online third meeting of the AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs on June 29, and the online conference on the parliamentary partnership on educational and cultural cooperation for sustainable development in late July.
After preparation efforts, the AIPA 41 kicked off on September 8 morning with the theme “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”.
Vietnam proposed and received support from other countries for the themes of the meeting of the Women Parliamentarians of AIPA (WAIPA) and the AIPA committees on political, economic, and social matters.
Contents of the committees’ common resolution were all associated with COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impacts on different aspects.
In addition, the Vietnamese NA coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with other member parliaments to deal with some issues in the agenda of the Committee on Political Matters.
This is currently a major challenge to AIPA in seeking a common and unanimous voice within the bloc and making decisions on important issues of the region.
Meanwhile, the Organising Committee also scrutinised many crucial issues of AIPA such as admitting new observer countries, granting awards to parliamentarians with outstanding dedication to AIPA, revising AIPA regulation, and guiding the organisation of AIPA-ASEAN dialogue.
Despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the high sense of responsibility, proactiveness, and activeness, host Vietnam has ensured a successful AIPA 41, leaving a good impression on international friends, giving a new standing to its parliament, and connecting the Vietnamese people with people in the ASEAN Community.
Over the 25-year course of AIPA membership, the Vietnamese NA’s contributions to AIPA have substantially helped with the country’s friendship and multifaceted cooperation with other ASEAN nations and affirmed the parliament’s stature in the region and the world./.