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Participating in UN’s peacekeeping operations, a breakthrough in Vietnam’s integration process

Peacekeeping is a special mechanism of the UN Security Council, first carried out in 1948. For nearly 70 years, with 71 operations conducted throughout the world, UN peacekeeping operations have contributed significantly to maintaining security, ending conflicts in dozens of countries, restoring and creating enduring peace and stability in regions and all over the world. With its great contributions, in 1988, UN peacekeeping has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Nowadays, given the fast and unpredictable changes of the world situation, UN peacekeeping is facing severe challenges, requiring active contribution and participation of all UN members, particularly those with huge economic and military potentials. For this reason, the contribution of Vietnam, a developing country, to this mission is highly appreciated by international community.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh taken photo with 5 officers sent to UN peacekeeping operations (source: qdnd.vn)

A “breakthrough” in Vietnam’s integration process

In 1945, right after Vietnam regained its independence, President Ho Chi Minh wrote a letter to the UN expressing his support for UN’s goals and wishing to make contribution to the common cause of the organization. After becoming a member of the UN, Vietnam has always been active in participating in all aspects of operation, including peace and security mission globally. Accordingly, Vietnam has actively voiced its support for world peace, seriously upholding international laws, the UN charter, fighting against arm race and for disarmament, preventing conflicts and solvinging disputes by peaceful means. Furthermore, Vietnam has also proactively participated in the discussion to shape policies and procedures; contributed finance and enhanced the responding capability for UN peacekeeping forces. At regional level, Vietnam has actively and positively participated in and made responsible contribution to multilateral cooperative mechanism, such as: the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), Asean Regional Forum (ARF), etc. Especially in 2014, Vietnam officially deployed its forces to UN peacekeeping missions. This event marked a significant change in quality of its participation in international activities, contributing to the completion of its panorama of multilateral diplomacy in particular and of the country’s international integration in general. In order to record the above mentioned achievements, we had thorough and serious preparations in guidelines, methods and implementation. Since 2005, as the chair offices of the inter-sectoral working group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defence have collaborated closely with related agencies, international organizations to conduct studying and preparing. In particular, functional bodies of MOFA and some units of the MND have fostered their cooperation with the UN and several partners on deciding roadmap, conducting training for cadres and soldiers; carrying out field trips to UN missions, etc. Besides, the proactive, effective and responsible participation as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2008 – 2009 term) helped us draw valuable lessons on negotiation, decision making mechanism, and  implementation, etc so that we can decide appropriate participation in the UN peacekeeping operations in accordance with our ability but still meeting international expectations.

In addition, legal foundation for Vietnam’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations was gradually perfected. Accordingly, at the 12th Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore in 2012, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that: “Vietnam decided to join UN peacekeeping operations”. Later on, in his meeting with Mr Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary – General in America on 26 July 2013, President Truong Tan Sang directly mentioned Vietnam’s decision to participate in the UN peacekeeping operations. The 2013 Vietnam’s Constitution also stipulates that: “Upholding the country’s synergy to firmly protect the Fatherland, contribute to maintain peace in the region and the world” (Article 64), and mission of the people’s armed forces also includes “conducting international obligations” (Article 65). These are important grounds to create consensus and determination of the entire Party, people, Army and the whole political system in carrying out this mission of significant importance. Thereby, over the past two years, we have dispatched many of military officers to UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Central African Republic. These officers have successfully fulfilled their tasks and were highly appreciated by UN representatives and local governments.

Continue to enhance the effectiveness of the operation in the coming time

In order to enhance the quality and effectiveness of this operation, in the coming time, forces, particularly those directly involving in, should focus on synchronously carrying out a number of solutions to overcome shortcomings and pay attention to the following contents:

First, continue to thoroughly grasp and  adhere to the Party’s viewpoints and guidelines on external affairs presented in the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress, especially the direction that “actively, proactively participate in cooperative activities at a higher level such as the UN peacekeeping operation…”. Accordingly, it is necessary to study, build and finalize the goals, principles, roadmap, and model of participation to fit the target and credos of the UN, international practices, Vietnam’s laws, conditions and circumstances. That is the foundation to gradually broaden the scope and area of operations, size of forces participating in international peacekeeping operations under the guideline of: careful and steady approach to improve Vietnam’s image and status in international arena.

Second, from the theory and practice of participating in the UN peacekeeping missions, functional agencies should soon finalize legal framework, mechanism, and policies for forces directly participating the operations. In particular, it is necessary to shorten and simplify  the procedure to dispatch forces as well as the contents of intersectoral negotiation and the signing a MoU with UN representatives on the deployment of each force to a particular UN mission.

Third, focusing on accomplishing the managing and collaborating mechanism in the direction of: rationalization and assurance of time and comprehensive consensus both in preparation, participation and accomplishment of tasks in UN missions.

Fourth, the State and related ministries and agencies should pay attention to the sound investment and preparation of human resource, facilities, and equipment to ensure the enduring and stable participation of Vietnam to the operation.

By implementing synchronously the above-mentioned solutions, we believe that Vietnam will make further important contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations, building an important  image and status for the country, helping its international integration achieve new breakthroughs and fulfilling the two strategic missions of national construction and protection.

Ha Kim Ngoc

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

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