The 2020 Law on Vietnam Border Defense (the Law) provides policies, principles, tasks, activities, forces, guarantees, and responsibilities of agencies, organizations and individuals regarding border defense. Effective from the beginning of next year, the Law will supersede the 1997 Ordinance on the Border Guard.
The State’s policies on border defense
As defined by the Law, border defense means a combination of all activities and measures to protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial unity and integrity of the Fatherland of Vietnam and ensure security and social order and safety in border areas with the combined strength of the entire nation.
The Law introduces in Article 3 policies on border defense under which the State will implement the policy of independence, sovereignty and territorial unity and integrity; build borders of peace, friendship, cooperation and long-term development and stability with bordering countries; and expand international cooperation, national defense and security diplomacy, border defense diplomacy and people’s diplomacy. The Law goes on to say that national border issues will be settled by peaceful means on the basis of respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity, and legitimate interests, and in accordance with the Constitution and law of Vietnam and treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party. Other policies include taking legitimate and appropriate measures to protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial unity and integrity of Vietnam; and consolidating and intensifying national defense and security and prioritizing resources for development of economic, cultural, social, scientific, technological, and external activities in border areas.
Border defense tasks
Border defense tasks provided in Article 5 include:
(i) Formulating and implementing national border protection strategies and plans; (ii) Managing and protecting the sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity, and the national borders; building, managing and protecting the system of national border markers, marking objects and signs of borderlines, border works, border gates and other works in border areas; (iii) Protecting the interests of the country and the nation, peace, security, social order and safety, economy, culture, society, natural resources and the environment; ensuring law enforcement in border areas and border gates; (iv) Combining socio-economic development with strengthening and consolidation of national defense, security and foreign relations in border areas; (v) Building the all-people border defense and all-people border defense posture in the all-people national defense and all-people national defense posture associated with the people’s security and people’s security posture; building defense zones in provincial- and district-level border areas and civil defense; preventing, combating, responding to and overcoming consequences of incidents, disasters, catastrophes, climate change and epidemics; carrying out search, rescue and salvage activities in border areas; (vi) Implementing international cooperation on border defense, border defense diplomacy, people’s diplomacy, and building of borders of peace, friendship, cooperation, and long-term development and stability; and (vii) Standing ready for combat and combating wars of aggression and armed conflicts.
Forms of national border management and protection
Under Article 19 of the Law, national border management and protection will be carried out in three forms: regular border management and protection; intensified border management and protection; and border management and protection in a state of national defense emergency, martial law or curfew or in a state of war.
The first form will be applied in case the situation of sovereignty, territory, security, and social order and safety in border areas is stable. The second form will be applied when an important political, economic, cultural or social event takes place in a border area or at a border gate, or in both sides of the border; the situation of security and social order and safety in some border areas is complicated; in a peripheral area or border area where a military, security or order drill is conducted, a disaster, a catastrophe, an epidemic, or a rescue or salvage operation takes place, or a criminal arrest operation is carried out and the target criminal may cross the border; or at the request of the border management and protection force of the bordering country.
The Border Guard Commander may decide to change from the first form of national border management and protection to the second one, while the Minister of National Defense has the competence to change the third form.
International cooperation on border defense
Article 12 of the Law specifies contents of international cooperation on border defense as listed below:
- Establishing and developing border relations; building and expanding friendly relations with authorities, people and functional forces of bordering countries and other countries; developing relations with relevant international organizations;
- Signing and implementing treaties and international agreements on border defense; establishing and implementing bilateral and multilateral border defense cooperation mechanisms;
- Negotiating and settling border- and border gate-related issues and cases; carrying out border patrols; controlling immigration, import and export at border gates and border crossings; preventing and fighting crimes and violations;
- Struggling to prevent any actions detrimental to the border relations between Vietnam and other countries;
- Preventing, controlling, responding to, and overcoming consequences of, incidents, disasters, catastrophes, climate change and epidemics; conducting search, rescue and salvage activities; and,
- Providing professional training in, and exchanging experiences on, border defense, and transferring equipment, science and technology to strengthen the capacity to perform border defense tasks.- (VLLF)