New responsibility in a new context full of challenges

Vietnam takes on a new responsibility in the context of profound changes in the world and the region. While no fundamental solutions to a number of long-standing conflicts in Africa have yet been found, tensions tend to escalate in the Middle East and security challenges keep threatening some regions, including the Asia-Pacific. Unilateral, violent acts disrespectful to international law, the use and threat of using force, infringing upon national sovereignty and territorial integrity, interference in the internal affairs of nations are also challenging stability and security in countries, regions and the world as a whole. Although peace, cooperation and development are still the mainstream, multilateralism as well as global and regional mechanisms are facing various difficulties. Increased strategic friction between major countries causes not only various complex security and political consequences, but also division and deadlock on a number of issues at the Security Council.

Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh

Although we assume a non-permanent member and even as the President of  the UN Security Council in the context of these challenges, we will be steadfast in our foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralism, and diversification. We will also make efforts to promote dialogue, reduce tension and confrontation, seek fair and reasonable solutions to issues threatening national peace, regional and international security, and promote the respect for international law, the UN Charter, especially the basic principles of equality among nations in international relations. Next, we will advocate the respect for national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and socio-political regime of nations, prevent interference in internal affairs of sovereign nations, resolve disputes peacefully, and protest the use or threat of force. Finally, we will uphold the spirit of “partnership for sustainable peace” with many important implications on conflict prevention, peace creation, post-conflict reconstruction, and strengthen multilateralism and multilateral institutions, especially the UN and regional organizations.

Vietnam presides over UN body responsible for international peace and security

Under the UN Charter, the UN Security Council holds the top responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It is also the only UN body that can make decisions legally binding all 193 UN member states. Since its inception, although the Security Council has had limitations of efficiency, democracy, and transparency in its operation, it has made important contributions to averting humanity from a new devastating world war. In fact, the UN Security Council, which has a great and deep influence on international politics and security, is the mechanism that countries, including big powers, always respect.

The Presidency of the UN Security Council, rotating every month among the 15 members, is responsible for developing and approving the Security Council’s monthly working program, and chairing and directing meetings to pass the Security Council’s documents. It also acts as an “arbitrator” to adequately handle arising issues and differences between Security Council members, representing the Security Council in relations with leaders of other UN agencies, UN member countries, and international press and media.

With its status of a non-permanent member without the veto power, Vietnam is trying its utmost to fulfill the duties in its presidential month although the politico-security situation in the world is very complicated and several regions are still facing various security challenges and threats. But through its presidency of the UN Security Council, Vietnam also wants to prove its ability to lead a leading international organization as well as to contribute positively to the UN body and international peace and security.

Vietnam tries to contribute to international community

On January 1, 2020, Vietnam started its two-year term of non-permanent membership and its one-month presidency of the UN Security Council. The coincidence was of special importance as it helped the country lay a firm premise for its two-year-term non-permanent membership.

In implementing the guidance of the Party and State leaders, we have been making efforts to perform the role of the UN Security Council President in presiding over meetings of the Security Council and leading its operation. We have also proposed appropriate solutions to issues within the agenda of the Security Council with sufficient consideration for legitimate interests of the stakeholders so as to create a basis for the country to promote its relations and cooperation with other countries.

Since its presidency, Vietnam has, in fact, played an active, proactive, responsible role at the Security Council and handled issues in an objective and transparent manner, on the basis of respecting the principle, the UN Charter and the working procedures of the Security Council. Vietnam has also made effective use of the opinions of other members, counseling of the UN Secretariat, and tried to reconcile differences among parties and promote unity and consensus in the UN agency. As a representative of the UN Security Council in relations with the outsider, Vietnam has actively provided information and made references to UN member countries outside the UN Security Council, especially Asian and ASEAN countries. Particularly, it proactively gave sufficient information to the press and media with the aim of promoting democracy and transparency in the activities of the Security Council. For nearly one month, Vietnam’s presidency has been applauded by both members of the Security Councils and other UN members. Vietnam’s initial success in the first month of its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council has brought a hope that Vietnam will make a large contribution to the UN Security Council in the remaining time of its non-permanent membership as it did during its last membership in the council in the 2008-2009 period.

Before its presidency, in a constructive spirit, Vietnam proactively reviewed all issues and consulted the UN Secretariat in order to craft a reasonable, balanced agenda for the UN Security Council in January. So the January agenda, including issues due to be solved, alternative issues and Vietnam’s initiatives, was strongly supported and passed on the first day of Vietnam’s presidency. Under the schedule, Vietnam presides over more than 30 meetings to discuss security issues in the Middle East, Syria, Colombia, the Central African Republic and West Africa. The operation of the UN peacekeeping and political missions in Yemen, Cyprus and Libya will also be reviewed. Vietnam also chairs a periodic working session with the UN Secretary General and other events.

Especially, Vietnam, in its capacity as the President of the UN Security Council, has successfully hosted two important meetings on the observance of the UN Charter and cooperation between the UN/UN Security Council and ASEAN. 

Vietnam made another imprint when chairing a ministerial-level open debate on January 10, 2020 themed “Maintenance of international peace and security: upholding the UN Charter” ahead of the 75th founding anniversary of the UN. The meeting was of special importance as it worked out the outline for the operation of the Security Council throughout 2020. Via the organization of the event, Vietnam has showed its strong resolve and underlined the importance of observing the UN Charter, international law and fundamental principles of respecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, preventing the use or threat to the use of force and settling disputes by peaceful means in the current global context full of challenges. 

Another imprint that Vietnam has made is its successful organization of a meeting themed “Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security: the role of ASEAN.” It was the first time ASEAN had shared with the UN Security Council at an official meeting its orientations, efforts and practices in preventing conflict, settling regional issues, building a community and playing the leading role in the regional security mechanisms. The meeting may lead to a UN/Security Council-ASEAN information exchanging mechanism. Such a mechanism bears much political meaning and would benefit ASEAN and its members, including Vietnam. It has marked a double success for Vietnam as the Council President in January and Chairman of ASEAN in 2020.

Based on our foreign policy of independence and self-reliance, with our new position, experience in chairing multilateral mechanisms and careful preparation, as well as receiving effective international support, we will complete the Council presidency in January successfully.

The positive outcomes of Vietnam’s Council presidency will make it more confident in making contributions to the UN Security Council’s operation and international community as a non-permanent member in the 2020-21 period.

In his message to welcome Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020 and a non-permanent membership of the Security Council in the 2020-21 period, Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong showed Vietnam’s strong resolve to successfully complete the two heavy but honorable missions, contributing positively to peace, security, cooperation and development in the region and world while creating a favorable environment for the country to develop sustainably.  

Written by Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh

Translated by Thu Nguyen