What lies ahead for Vietnam if it gets UN Security Council seat

By Viet Anh   April 3, 2019 | 08:03 pm PT
What lies ahead for Vietnam if it gets UN Security Council seat
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the U.N. General Assembly debate in New York on September 27, 2018. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
Vietnam is the only Asian candidate for the 2020-21 term on U.N. Security Council, and everything indicates it will do a competent job.

Ian Martin, former executive director of Security Council Report, told VnExpress he hoped Vietnam would make a significant contribution to preventing conflicts, one of the major tasks of the council.

Vietnam’s experience in dealing with problems within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and post-conflict situations would be handy, he said.

Vietnam actively campaigned to be elected to the council for the 2020-21 term.

Asia-Pacific nations agreed last year to nominate Vietnam to the position. There will be a vote in June, and if elected, it will be the second time Vietnam will hold the seat after 2008-09.

"I believe Vietnam will be elected as it is currently the only Asian candidate for a seat," Martin said.

Vietnam will join the council at an important and challenging time amid differences in political views between the five permanent members, the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and China.

If elected, Vietnam and the nine other non-permanent members will have to work together to find a common voice on international issues.

Pham Quang Vinh, who used to work in Vietnam's Permanent Mission to the U.N. for two terms between 1987 and 1999, said the world has changed a lot since the last time Vietnam held the seat in 2008-09.

Changes in policies by large, powerful countries have created fierce strategic competition, undermined multilateralism and even affected the commitment to the U.N., he said.

Therefore, when a country sits in the council, it should work with other members to uphold the principle of the U.N. Charter, promote international law and the long-term values the U.N. stands for, he said.

Another difficulty Vietnam would face is that some countries have changed their stance on long-standing issues in which there used to be consensus, including free trade, trade protectionism and climate change.

Members of the Security Council have to safeguard common interests and at same time have to respond to demands to make changes by big countries.

Vietnam will take the ASEAN chair by 2020, which would mean more duties and responsibilities.

Vinh said Vietnam can work for the common goals of the two institutions, which are peace and sustainable development.

When there is a problem in the region, Vietnam needs to guarantee coordination between the ASEAN and the U.N. so that the latter could step in and handle the situation, he said.

"Playing two roles at the same time will enable Vietnam to push regional interests on the U.N. agenda."

Martin agreed, saying the two positions would allow Vietnam to express not just its own viewpoint but ASEAN’s too, and help the U.N. have a broader perspective of the region.

As for the tension in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, he said it has yet to be included in the U.N. agenda, but the Security Council has a forum for related parties to discuss.

"Vietnam will have the chance to discuss it with China and other council members."

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