Going through rough seas

Crisis after crisis, challenge after challenge, the world reels in “rough seas”. Old tensions have not cooled down, and new conflicts have emerged. The economic recovery is not sustainable and is close to the brink of recession. Climate change is close to the “no-return” threshold, but action is still lacking and weak. The most serious are division and declining trust between countries. A global solidarity treaty is a goal the United Nations is trying to promote throughout 2022.
Children in the city of Aden, Yemen. (Photo: The United Nations)
Children in the city of Aden, Yemen. (Photo: The United Nations)

In the whirlpool of crisis

Bursting out amid the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine made the whole world waver. The President of the 77th United Nations General Assembly affirmed that the conflict not only affects Ukraine and neighbouring countries but also creates difficulties for countries located very far from the conflict area. As a result, supply chains were disrupted, pushing food and energy prices and inflation to record highs. The conflict also fuelled smouldering disagreements and suspicions and undermined the international cooperation system built on trust and agreement.

As a direct consequence, a new spiral of crisis between Western countries and Russia has been activated. Along with the emergency financial and military support packages for Ukraine, the European Union (EU), the US and its allies imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Moscow. NATO increased support for Kiev and hinted at Ukraine's membership. Insecure feelings led Finland and Sweden to reverse their decades-old policy of neutrality, to join the transatlantic military alliance.

Heavily dependent on gas imported from Russia, EU countries cannot stand still because of the worry that Moscow will cut supplies. A range of solutions was offered, from expanding the supplier network, filling stockpiles and completing infrastructure projects, to testing joint purchasing options, reducing consumption, and even proposing to impose a ceiling on gas prices. However, energy prices have not cooled down, while the economic slowdown, inflation and high cost of living, put great pressure on the Old Continent.

The world economy is not immune to the impact of conflicts, as well as high inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and a wave of monetary tightening in many countries. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy has fallen into a wide-ranging recession. The case of Sri Lanka clearly shows the consequences of policy shocks, inflation and soaring prices, leading to economic collapse, and plunging the country into a deep political crisis.

Not the target, but food and fertilizer products are still indirectly affected by Western sanctions, leading to supply chains that have not yet recovered from the pandemic, continuing to be disrupted, pushing food prices up. According to the United Nations, the world is facing a food crisis of an unprecedented scale, with 829 million people undernourished and 49 million people in 49 countries, on the brink of starvation.

“Contributing” to food insecurity are also “climate shocks”, with a series of unusual weather phenomena caused by climate change, from floods that engulf a third of Pakistan, Europe’s hottest summer in hundreds of years, record drought in Africa and devastating storms in the Western Hemisphere. The world is “on the highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has warned.

Acting together, overcoming disagreements

At the high-level meeting of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Secretary-General emphasised that to bring the world out of the “rough seas”, the only way for nations is to overcome disagreements and act together responsibly for a sustainable future. Citing data on food insecurity across regions, the United Nations Secretary-General said that the world is on the way to a raging food catastrophe. Without urgent coordinated action, it is difficult to avoid a full-blown crisis in 2023.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the world is at a critical crossroads and to avert the hunger catastrophe, the urgent task is to bridge the gap between demand and pledge of aid. The Black Sea grain initiative, to resume Ukrainian grain exports, is a good example of the success of international dialogue and cooperation, to cool down the “fever” in food prices and supplies.

The world population hit 8 billion by the time the international community is halfway through the implementation of the development and climate goals adopted in 2015, which are the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on curbing global warming below 1.5C by 2030. The new population milestone is a success story that affirms great progress in improving public health and reducing poverty, but it also reminds us about pressures on the environment, social welfare, food security, climate action and sustainable development.

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt, reached a “compensation agreement” to support vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. However, the conference is still not considered a success without higher commitments to reduce emissions. The climate solidarity pact still needs more efforts to cooperate on reducing greenhouse gases and promoting energy transition.

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COP27 conference in Egypt (Photo: the United Nations)

In the context of increasing distrust and division, a series of important high-level events of the world are re-organised after a period of hiatus due to the pandemic, reflecting the collaborative efforts of the international community, in which Southeast Asia emerges as a bright spot of connectivity. The results of the ASEAN Summits, APEC, G20 and side meetings, show that peace, cooperation and development are still the main trends. Urgent global issues are concerned, becoming the driving force for countries to increase cooperation, and respond to and overcome challenges.

The success of efforts for the people

In the context of rapid and complicated changes in the world, Vietnam persists in its foreign policy of independence and self-reliance for peace and development, while promoting bilateral partnership relations and elevating multilateral diplomacy, contributing to the trend of peace and cooperation. In ASEAN, Vietnam has demonstrated its role as a bridge to promote consensus, contributing to strengthening solidarity, enhancing the prestige of the association, and promoting the value of dialogue and cooperation of mechanisms led by ASEAN. At APEC, Vietnam shares the forum’s development orientation and actively promotes dialogue channels to narrow differences and increase consensus.

The year 2022 marks 45 years of Vietnam-United Nations cooperation, a memorable journey of a strong partnership. According to the United Nations, Vietnam has written a successful story of transformation and hope, a journey from war to peace, from poverty to development, and from aid to self-reliance and contribution. Vietnam today is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with decreasing poverty rates and increasing the quality of health, education and income. The country also achieved the Millennium Development Goals, ahead of schedule and continues to realise the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Vietnamese delegation at the 215th Session of the Executive Board of UNESCO. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

After successfully assuming the role of non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the second time, in 2022, Vietnam has continued to be elected as one of the Vice Presidents of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly's 77th session, and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2023-2025.

Being elected for the second time to the Human Rights Council - the agency that plays a leading role in the United Nations system for the protection and promotion of human rights - clearly reflects the international community's recognition of Vietnam's policies, efforts and achievements, in ensuring people's rights in all fields.

Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 45th anniversary of Vietnam’s membership in the United Nations (UN), UN Secretary-General stated: The achievements are a strong testament to the resilience and hard work of the Vietnamese people, to overcome difficulties and the policy of putting people at the centre of development. "As we look to the future, this will be vital to writing the next chapter in Vietnam's development success story,", he said.

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Xu Liping, Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:
The relationship between the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Communist Party of China can be seen as a successful example of political party cooperation because it has been concretized into effective cooperation mechanisms between the two countries. Strengthening the exchange through Party channels with rich content contributes to increasing understanding and sharing.
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Sayakane Sisouvong, Former Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN, and former Ambassador of Laos to the UK:

Vietnam is a country with an amazing GDP growth rate over the past time, having the potential to become Asia’s new tiger. With the improvement of governance, upgrading of infrastructure, promotion of innovation and continuing to strongly expand integration with the outside, Vietnam will reap many new successes in socio-economic development, playing an increasing role in the region and the world.
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Uch Leang, an expert from the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC)’s Institute of International Relations:

The election to the UN Human Rights Council marked a new milestone, affirming Vietnam's prestige and position, and showing the strategic thinking and effectiveness of the foreign policy of the Party and the State of Vietnam. Vietnam will complete the 2023-2025 tenure of the Human Rights Council, and work with the international community, to build a peaceful world and ensure human rights.
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Dr. Carolus Wimmer, President of the Venezuela – Vietnam Friendship Association:
Vietnam’s spirit of international solidarity to overcome the crisis is mentioned with admiration and respect all over the world. Maintaining political, economic and social stability, in the context of complicated developments in the world, is the pride of a nation that is always ready to face challenges.
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Professor Elena Tyumeneva from the Senior Foreign Language School, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia:

Vietnam effectively uses the "soft power" of cultural diplomacy, bringing the nation's cultural and human values to the world. Honouring the Vietnamese Language in the overseas Vietnamese community is very meaningful. As a Vietnamese language teacher, I am happy to contribute to popularising the beauty of Vietnamese culture.
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Former reporter Suthida Malikaew, Manager Media Group (Thailand):

It is not an exaggeration to say that Vietnam is a bright spot in the region, in terms of COVID-19 epidemic control and economic recovery. Along with Vietnam's contributions to the United Nations, Vietnam's anti-epidemic and economic development results, are highly appreciated by the international community, thereby enhancing the country's position and prestige.

Nhan Dan Newspaper correspondent group in different countries