Saturday, August 13, 2022, 15:10 (GMT+7)

Friday, November 27, 2020, 07:54 (GMT+7)
On the development of a humanitarian dialogue roadmap for dealing with the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Vietnam

Humanitarian dialogue on overcoming the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the US Military in Vietnam is a central part of the general goal for dialogues between Vietnam and the U.S. about handling war consequences. As it is a new issue, it is necessary to take the international community’s common principles into consideration to develop a humanitarian dialogue roadmap.

Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh addressing the ceremony to launch the Project on Dioxin Remediation at Bien Hoa Airport              (photo: dangcongsan.vn)

Since the US Military sprayed Agent Orange/Dioxin in South Vietnam (August 1961) in order to lessen our revolutionary forces’ capabilities in camouflage and hiding, the consequences of this chemical toxin for the environment and health of those who directly exposed themselves to Dioxin, such soldiers of the two countries and Vietnamese citizens have remained serious. More importantly, descendants of those people also suffer from the consequences of this toxicant. According to statistics worldwide, there is no other place where the environment is contaminated by Agent Orange/Dioxin in such a large area, with such a dangerous degree like our country; there is no other country which has such an enormous number of Agent Orange/Dioxin victims with the long-term, extremely severe consequences for each individual and family and for the whole society as well like Vietnam. In spite of a mass of clear, undeniable evidence about the Agent Orange/Dioxin’s far-reaching, dangerous, long-term consequences for the environment and victims, the U.S. Administration has not assumed responsibility for overcoming them. Hence, we will have to carry on with the fight for justice of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin regardless of foreseeable difficulties. After 25 years of normalisation of the relations between the two countries, the U.S. has now become a comprehensive partner of Vietnam. In 9 fields of comprehensive partnership signed by Vietnam and the U.S. in 2013, “the settlement of war consequences” is the 6th item. Apparently, the handling of war consequences, including Agent Orange/Dioxin represents an obligation for the United States. In order that humanitarian dialogue on settling the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin will reach the goal, we must actively, proactively, quickly undertake researches to develop a proper, feasible roadmap.

First of all, researches should be comprehensive, focalised and relevant to the development trend of the partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam. This principle derives from the complexity of the struggle for justice of victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and the trend of international relations. Adhering to this principle will provide a solid foundation for the development of the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the U.S. in the future. Currently, the relations between the two countries have been developed to a new height in all political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, educational, scientific-technological, and defence-security fields with a lot of significant achievements. Regardless of being each other’s former enemies, the two sides have become friends. The motivation for cooperation has been increasingly improved, while areas of cooperation have been expanded, deepened, diversified and made practical and effective. In the economic and defence-security fields only, according to US experts, cooperation between Vietnam and the U.S. is at strategic level and greatly contributes to the region’s peace and stability. In its National Defence Strategy and Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. always considers Vietnam as an important partner in the Indo-Pacific Region. That has given us opportunities for formulating a humanitarian dialogue roadmap to deal with the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the U.S. in its invasion of Vietnam.

However, it has been very difficulty for us to force the US Administration to admit their spraying of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Vietnam. Therefore it will be much harder to compel them to accept responsibility for the consequences. The handling of the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin is not only an economic matter; more importantly it has to be political and legal responsibility. Thus, when developing a humanitarian dialogue roadmap for overcoming the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the U.S. in the war in Vietnam, we must ensure its comprehensiveness and focalisation as well as make it relevant to the development of the partnership between the two countries as a matter of principle.

Second, opportunely, effectively maintain the win-win principle to contribute to fostering humanitarian dialogue cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam. The goals of humanitarian dialogue on settling the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the U.S. Military in the war in Vietnam are to (1) clean up the sites contaminated by Agent Orange/Dioxin and restore the devastated environment in Vietnam, (2) provide services and assistance for people with disabilities and their families due to Agent Orange/Dioxin. Thus, it is vital that we must opportunely, effectively ensure mutual benefits in order to encourage humanitarian dialogue cooperation as an orientation for developing a dialogue roadmap. Due to the lasting, far-reaching, disastrous impacts of Agent Orange/Dioxin on the environment and health of people, particularly victims in Vietnam, remediation has become an urgent, long-term, and extremely complex issue. As for Vietnam, in order to deal with the painful legacy of wars in general, especially the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin for the environment and human health in particular, over the years, our Party and State have implemented various policies and measures to provide assistance for victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin. However those victims are also confronted with a lot of difficulties in their daily life. Hence, there should be humanitarian support from both the U.S. and Vietnam. As it is a complex, long-term issue, the development of a humanitarian dialogue roadmap for overcoming the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the U.S. in its invasion of Vietnam should include a close, harmonious, appropriate combination of benefits between Vietnam, the U.S., and victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.

Third, encourage the participation of forces, organisations, and individuals both at home and abroad. The initial achievements in cooperation between Vietnam and the U.S. on handling the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the US Military in the war in our country have step by step made contributions to gaining sympathy, communion and understanding as the basis for practical, effective cooperation between the two countries. One of the principles for building a humanitarian dialogue roadmap is to ensure the participation of forces, organisations, and individuals both at home and abroad. This principle derives from the social and humanistic nature of the settlement of Agent Orange/Dioxin’s consequences.

In response to the terrible consequences for the environment and human health, Vietnam has launched operations within many international organisations aimed at requiring the U.S. Administration and chemical companies to bear responsibility for overcoming the consequences together with our country. However, when the U.S. imposed embargoes on Vietnam, cooperation on handling the war legacy and particularly the consequences of Agent/Dioxin was totally frozen. Only when the two countries normalise their relations, the issue on dealing with the war legacy and the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin is mentioned more frequently. Nevertheless US leaders have always sought ways to evade their economic, political, and legal responsibilities. The U.S. Administration’s attitude has been strongly criticised by the international community and especially American citizens and war veterans as many of them had exposed themselves to this dangerous chemical. It is the international community’s strong criticism of the U.S. Administration’s attitude towards the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin has attracted attention and support of many international organisations and peace-loving people around the world for Vietnam and its struggle for justice of victims.

The fight for justice of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin reveals that in order to overcome the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the U.S. in its invasion of Vietnam, there should be efforts made by the whole community and especially assistance from social organisations, benefactors, and international friends. The adequate humanitarian support from partners no matter who they are is both urgent and important. The struggle for the environment and victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Vietnam has been taking place in various forms and scales, together with the participation of people from all walks of life, domestic and international organisations, and even American citizens and veterans. In other words, in order to settle the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin for Vietnam’s environment and people, there should be humanitarian assistance from both Vietnam and the U.S., together with the international community’s involvement. To that end, when developing a humanitarian dialogue roadmap for handling the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used the US Military in Vietnam, we must place emphasis on creating a favourable condition for the participation of forces, organisations, and individuals both at home and abroad.

In order that humanitarian dialogue will meet its goals to contribute to dealing with the consequences of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the US Military in the war in Vietnam, we must strictly abide by the international community’s legal principles to build the dialogue roadmap properly.

Associate Prof. TRAN DANG BO, PhD, PHUNG THI NGA, MA

Your Comment (0)