A trusted bridge

Saturday, 2021-02-13 15:15:18
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discusses with Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh on the sidelines of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. (Photo courtesy of the United Nations)
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NDO – Halfway through its role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020-2021 term, Vietnam has been recognised by the international community for its success as a bridge, with initiatives to promote cohesion and consensus in realising common goals. As ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam has made important contributions to upholdingthe role and voice of ASEAN and promote cooperation between the Association and the largest multilateral organisation on the planet.

Vietnam assumed its responsibility at the UNSC in the context of profound and complicated changes in the world and region. Many long-lasting crises have not been resolved, and some hot spots are in danger of a flare-up into conflicts. Strategic competition among major countries has accelerated with fierce confrontations, causing complicated and widespread consequences, even affecting the highest power, the United Nations. Peace and cooperation are still the main trend, but multilateralism, global and regional mechanisms have been shaken by unilateral steps away from international cooperation. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic then broke out, deeply impacting all aspects of international life in all continents, revealing defects in and weakening multilateral forums, a non-traditional security challenge that is very difficult to control.

In the context of many challenges, Vietnam participated in the UNSC in the spirit of independence, self-reliance, activeness, responsibility and balance; promotingcompliance with the United Nations Charter and fundamental principles of international law; support and promote dialogue, reduce confrontation, seeking equitable solutions to issues that threaten regional and international peace and security. With the policy of “partnership for sustainable peace”, Vietnam aims to prevent conflicts, create peace, rebuild after crises, consolidate multilateralism and global institutions and regional organisational authority.

Over the past half of the term, Vietnam's efforts to participate in and contribute to initiatives have been recognised by international friends, especially in terms of its success as President of the UNSC in January 2020. In the first month Vietnam took over as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, it took the responsibility of leading and operating the activities of the Security Council and laid a favourable foundation for the entire term. This is a coincidence of special significance and also the opening month of the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter. Vietnam chose the monthly theme of promoting compliance with the UN Charter with the aim of reaffirming the important role of multilateral cooperation in maintaining international peace and security.

A key event that marked Vietnam's imprint was the open ministerial session with the theme “The 75th Anniversary of the United Nations: Upholding the United Nations Charter to Maintain International Peace and Security”. This was also a theme throughout the activities of the UNSC marking 75 years of the UN’s contribution to the cause of peace and global development. With a topical theme, meeting the expectations of the international community, the discussion session chaired by Vietnam attracted about 110 high-ranking representatives from a multitude of countries and the UN Secretary-General, thehighest number of participants in the history of UN open discussion sessions. With Vietnam’s coordinating efforts, the UNSC also adopted the President's Statement on compliance with the UN Charter for the first time.

Another important event reflecting Vietnam’s success in its “dual role” as non-permanent member of the UNSC and ASEAN Chair in 2020, was the meeting on cooperation between the UN and ASEAN, first discussed at the UNSC. Vietnam thereby affirmed its goals and efforts to promote comprehensive and effective cooperation between the two organisations, focusing on the priority areas of peaceful dispute settlement, preventative diplomacy, disarmament, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, maritime cooperation and security, and so on. This event marked the first time ASEAN shared with the UNSC on its orientation and efforts to prevent conflicts and consolidate regional peace and the ASEAN Community building process, thereby confirming the central role and important contribution of the Association. Many diplomatic opinions stated Vietnam was successful in connecting ASEAN with the UNSC, promoting core values and voice, as well as raising the ASEAN flag at the most important UN agency.

2020 marked a time when the UNSC faced many major challenges, from a long backlog related to conflicts, to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge appeared at the right time as multilateral mechanisms were stagnant, even in doubt, while cooperation within the UNSC was not as expected, especially among the Permanent Members of the UNSC (P5). Together with the countries in the group of non-permanent members of the UNSC (E10), Vietnam strived to promote its role as a bridge promoting solidarity between the E10 and P5, helping heal divisions in the P5 group, and reducing the deadlock, stagnation and ineffectiveness in UNSC activities due to disagreements among major powers. As coordinator of the E10 group (May 2020), Vietnam clearly showed its active and proactive role in promoting the resumption of the meeting between the E10 and the UN Secretary-General, presiding over the development of joint statements by E10.

Success in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic has been a favourable factor for Vietnam in sharing and promotinginternational cooperation in handling this unprecedented non-traditional security challenge. Vietnam has coordinated with a number of countries to promote the UNSC to discuss and issue a separate document on COVID-19. Many initiatives and proposals from Vietnam contributed substantially to the negotiating process for the documents of the UNSC, meeting common concerns and highly appreciated by the international community. Vietnam’s efforts to act as a bridge helped strengthen sharing, connection and action at the UNSC across many fields.

With its increasingly enhanced national status, and the support of the international community as well as itsexperience in leading and managing regional and international organisations and cooperation mechanisms, Vietnam is believed to have fulfilled its responsibilities at the UNSC, contributing to the joint efforts to maintain international peace and security, promoting cooperation and global development.