Vietnam has been elected to the United Nations (UN) Security Council as a non-permanent member with a near unanimous vote in a General Assembly meeting last Friday. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks to local media on what Vietnam expects to contribute to the UN agenda during its 2020-21 term.
What are the priorities for Vietnam during our term on the Security Council?
The United Nations Security Council is one of the main organs of the United Nations and has primary responsibility for global affairs, especially peace and security, and Vietnam’s contributions to the Council would be in line with the United Nations’ agenda.
Our priorities during our membership for the 2020-21 term would be to promote multilateralism and compliance with international laws in addressing global challenges regarding peace and security. This is the highest priority Vietnam strives for in serving the Council.
We also want to leverage our past experiences to resolve issues of great concern, such as post-conflict reconstruction, women and children in conflicts or dealing with unexploded ordnance.
And of course, participating in the UN also means that we seek to contribute our part to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region and the world at large that is conducive to the country’s own development.
What are the main challenges facing Vietnam as it assumes a position on the Security Council?
On the UN Security Council, it’s important that the five permanent and the ten non-permanent members co-ordinate and co-operate effectively to address issues of concern, and make sure that any issue put before the council receives unanimity in the best case scenario.
As per our observation at the UN, 90 per cent of all issues on the table can be resolved if there is a consensus, which ensures that the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions will be effective. If a resolution fails to achieve consensus or gets vetoed by a permanent council member, that means there’s a split of opinion amongst the members and that’s something we need to keep in mind to avoid such cases. Our duty is to connect the members of the Council to build consensus at the highest level.
There are also issues that may force council members to take a stance, which means we will need to be careful in our deliberations to arrive at a suitable decision.
Our decision to push for election to the Security Council is historic. Could you tell us about the efforts Vietnam has been taking to prepare for the role?
This decision is indeed significant, as it showcases Vietnam’s elevated global standing and our commitment to global responsibilities as a member of the UN and the international community.
Vietnam’s candidature to the highest organ of the UN reflects our desire to contribute to one of the world’s most urgent business, which is to maintain peace, stability and security.
Vietnam’s upcoming term in 2020-21 will be the second after our very first stint on the council in 2008-09. Our contributions and performance of the duties during the first time serving on the Council have been widely recognized and appreciated, which certainly helped us obtain high confidence from other countries as Vietnam ran for the position for the second time, evidenced by the landslide vote.
However, our candidature and eventual election to the UN Security Council must not be thought to be a “foregone conclusion”, this is a fruit of our proactive efforts from our part over the last ten years to maintain Vietnam as the sole candidate for the entire Asia-Pacific region.
It has to be said that competition is fierce between the member countries from the same group in running for a seat on the Council. There was a time when no country received the required number of votes even after 140 rounds to represent the group of countries to be elected to the Council. Over the past ten years, of course there were times when a few powerful countries in the region made moves to prepare for the election but with skillful approaches and measures, we have managed to persuade them from running, ensuring our status as the sole candidature for the Asia-Pacific region. This serves as a clear demonstration of other countries’ trust in Vietnam’s full capabilities to handle the duties as a Council member.
Vietnam will also assume the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2020. How will Vietnam leverage this position with its time on the Security Council?
For the term 2020-21 on the Council, Vietnam will seek to further enhance the co-operation between the United Nations, or the Security Council, with regional organizations, including ASEAN. This is also high on the United Nations’ agenda so when we take the leadership of ASEAN in 2020, we will be in a great position to push for the realization of this goal.
2020 will surely be a busy and challenging year for Vietnam, as we will undertake the role of ASEAN chair and the rotating presidency of the Council from the beginning of the next year.- (VNS/VLLF)