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Identifying and opportunely, effectively responding to non-traditional security challenges

In the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, in addition to traditional security challenges, our Party has pointed out non-traditional security challenges facing the country’s development. Hence, identifying and flexibly, effectively respond to those challenges represent a matter of urgency nowadays.

Our Party’s thinking and awareness of non-traditional security challenges

Non-traditional security threats are no new concept. However, due to their complexity and far-reaching consequences for human life, non-traditional security challenges have always attracted special attention from countries, organisations, and international community. Without being effectively controlled and settled, non-traditional security challenges will more negatively impact on the people’s life and nations’ development. As for Vietnam, non-traditional security threats have been directly impacting on all fields, including defence and security. Hence, our Party, Military, and people’s awareness and identification of those issues have been demonstrated more sufficiently and clearly.

Prior to the 9th National Party Congress, our Party had not used any concept of non-traditional security challenges, but it had pointed out their signs. At the 9th and 10th National Party Congresses, our Party continued supplementing and developing its awareness of non-traditional security challenges: “many pressing global issues require coordination from countries and organisations; there is an increasingly large gap between rich and poor countries; there is an increase in population together with migration flows; natural environment is being damaged; climate is increasingly worse.” Nevertheless, until the 11th National Party Congress, our Party officially used the concept of non-traditional security challenges in its documents. At the 12th National Party Congress, our Party first put non-traditional security challenges beside traditional security challenges, while pointing out several global issues, such as financial security, energy security, water security, food security, climate change, natural disasters, and epidemics. At the same time, our Party took “cyber security issues and new forms of warfare” into account, implying that some non-traditional security challenges could be transformed into traditional security issues.

It is worth noting that at the 13th National Party Congress, our Party has expressed its new, thorough, comprehensive perception of non-traditional security challenges facing defence and security in the Homeland construction and protection. Our Party has underlined human security, economic security, cyber security, and the building of a disciplined society in accordance with the current situation and considered the maintenance of national security as the goal and measure for the country’s sustainable development. Those are matters of utmost importance and provide a precondition for sectors, forces, and localities to implement their preventive and remedial measures in practice.

Identifying non-traditional security challenges to make contributions to successfully realising the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress

From the development of our Party’s perception of non-traditional security challenges, we could generalise into several main issues as follows. (1) Climate change has been clearly manifested in the growing number of typhoons, large-scale droughts, and long-lasting heat waves and cold spells. Vietnam has been ranked among the five countries likely to be most affected by climate change. Mekong Delta is one of the four regions to be most severely hit by droughts and saltwater intrusion. Concerning (2) energy security, on a yearly basis, the demand for energy in Vietnam is doubled, while the country’s capacity is at only 60%. Thus, energy import and dependence on foreign energy are unavoidable. In spite of being a top rice exporter of the world, Vietnam is always confronted with threats to (3) food security due to its incommensurate level of development. With reference to (4) water security, Vietnam is amongst countries with shortage of water; it is now facing a sharp decrease in groundwater levels, while water sources and many rivers are polluted due to industrialisation and wastes from many factories and plants. (5) Cyber security is now an important issue when hi-tech crime tends to be complex. Hi-tech criminals use cyberspace to propagandise against our Party, State, and national great unity block; they launch cyber attacks to destroy our information technology infrastructures and activities of our authorities, organisations, enterprises, and individuals. Besides, there are several challenges, such as trans-national crime, human trafficking, and drug trafficking, particularly in border areas.

Several measures to proactively respond to non-traditional security challenges.

First, raise the awareness of authorities, sectors, forces, and the entire society towards non-traditional security threats. Only when non-traditional security challenges take place could we realise their consequences. Thus, it is necessary to raise public awareness of non-traditional security challenges. More specifically, it is essential to render all citizens and the entire political system fully aware of non-traditional security challenges’ manifestations and consequences. In fact, sometimes, changes and adjustments in individual and collective habits and behaviours could help prevent threats to our environment, water sources, food, and social networks. Hence, we must raise public awareness of non-traditional security challenges; this work must be carried out frequently, continuously, and both widely and deeply. Under the spirit of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, we must consider the maintenance of national security as the goal and measure for the country’s sustainable development. Besides, it is important to clarify the connotations of human security, economic security, and cyber security issues as the new, central manifestations of non-traditional security challenges. Grounded on those defined connotations, we should encourage the proactive, active participation of each citizen and the entire society in prevention and response.

Second, proactively prevent non-traditional security challenges from bringing about sudden transformations. There is a fact that non-traditional security challenges could quickly cause dangerous, dramatic transformations in human life. Basically, those challenges affect all aspects of social life and especially human security. In order to proactively prevent those challenges, first of all, we must keep improving the people’s material and mental life. To that end, in each period, great value should be attached to aligning economic growth with social progress and equality in each step, policy, and development programme under the spirit of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. Emphasis should be placed on cleverly, flexibly, effectively settling ethnic and religious issues and preventing social conflicts from being transformed into political conflicts. At the same time, we must proactively classify non-traditional security challenges to properly, effectively design different scenarios. Moreover, we must better our capacity to forecast and identify non-traditional security challenges from afar in order to develop action plans/projects.

Third, enhance the fight against all plots and artifices of hostile forces. Currently, the hostile forces are converting from armed to unarmed measures of sabotage, with a view to undermining our stability from the inside and inventing pretexts for an armed intervention when necessary. It is worth noting that several non-traditional security issues, especially ethnic and religious issues have been frequently exploited to incite separatist movements and riots; without our flexible, clever remedial measures, they would lead to armed conflicts or military interventions from the outside. Hence, it is necessary to grasp and fully implement the ideology on solidarity and mutual respect and support for development between ethnic groups and religions as well as prevent and fight against all signs of separatism. Due attention should be paid to respecting citizens’ rights to freedom of religion, belief, and non-religion and combating any conspiracy to take advantage of religions against our Party, State, and national great unity block.

Fourth, promote international cooperation in detecting, preventing, and responding to non-traditional security challenges. In fact, non-traditional security challenges derive from natural environment, socio-economic development process, and governments’ management work, etc. Therefore, communities, organisations, countries, regions, and the whole world must take part in responding to those challenges. As for Vietnam, our Party advocates proactive, active cooperation with other countries and regional and global organisations in effectively responding to non-traditional security challenges. To do so, consideration should be given to sharing honest, timely information about non-traditional security threats via specific, efficient mechanisms of cooperation, training human resources, and mobilising all available resources to prevent and respond to non-traditional security challenges. Besides, it is vital to quickly formulate and complete legal frameworks and funds between countries, regions, and the world as the basis for cooperation in effectively dealing with non-traditional security challenges.

Non-traditional security issues less affect national sovereignty; however, they directly threaten and damage the foundation and development of humans, communities, societies, defence, security, and nations. Hence, it is necessary to be fully aware of the manifestations and impacts of non-traditional security challenges in Vietnam under the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress in order to make contributions to proactively, effectively intensifying measures to ensure human security and national security.

PHAM THI HOA, PHD, Academy of Journalism and Communications

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