Ambassador Ngo Quang Xuan: Position and prestige of Vietnam is increasingly consolidated

Monday, 2019-06-10 16:33:25
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Ambassador Ngo Quang Xuan (right) talks with the seventh Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan on the sidelines of a UN session.
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NDO - Ambassador Ngo Quang Xuan, who has extensive experience in multilateral diplomatic activities at the United Nations (UN) and many other international organisations has recently granted an interview to Nhan Dan Online to talk about the selection of Vietnam as the only candidate from the Asia-Pacific region for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure.

Q: You were once the Vietnamese Ambassador for the UN during the period when Vietnam achieved important diplomatic imprints including the formal normalisation of diplomatic relations with the US, and the participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), could you tell us about efforts made by the Vietnam’s permanent mission with the UN at that time?

A: In the context that Vietnam was experiencing a political and economic embargo in the 1980s, Vietnam’s permanent mission with the UN exerted all efforts to fulfil its mission. Until 1989, after helping the Government and people of Cambodia to completely escape from the Pol Pot genocide regime, Vietnam focused it’s effort on all forums that took place at each session of the UN General Assembly.
During that process, the Vietnam's permanent mission made great progress to meet the new requirements. Vietnam’s participation in all the issues raised by the UN General Assembly and international organisations in this world's largest forum helped international friends see the country's independence in implementing its foreign policy. The international community also acknowledged Vietnam’s confidence, responsibility and activeness in participating in global issues. Since then, Vietnam’s image, position and prestige has been strengthened.

Through persistent diplomatic efforts, in 1995, Vietnam normalised its relations with the US, joined ASEAN, and signed a cooperation agreement with the European Community (EC). In the same year, Vietnam began negotiations on its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
It can be said that 1995 was an important turning point for Vietnam in its regional and international integration. At the UN forum, Vietnam has acted as a responsible member with a foreign policy standing for peace, stability, development and cooperation among peoples and nations.

I remember that at the meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 1995, for the first time, the Ambassador and Head of the Vietnam's permanent mission was invited by the US Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright to attend a consultation session between the US and the ASEAN. As usual, before the meeting of the UN General Assembly, Ambassadors of the US and ASEAN countries had consultations to prepare for the then three-month period of meetings. Unlike what I had thought before, the first meeting took place in a very friendly atmosphere. Madeleine Albright said that her daughter knew and loved Vietnam through her charity work in Vietnam. That story made me feel very happy and surprised during the first meeting at the UN after Vietnam and the US normalised their relations. But it was also a sign that efforts made by Vietnam's permanent mission helped change opinions about Vietnam by the UN member states at that time.

Q: After normalising relations with the US and becoming an ASEAN member, Vietnam was elected as Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly’s 52nd session (1997-1998), while earning the highest vote as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in the 1997-1998 term, and once again, was elected as an ECOSOC member for the 2016-2018 term, fulfilled its role and responsibility as a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008-2009 tenure, elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 2014-2016 tenure, the Executive Council of UNESCO (2015-2019), and the UN International Law Commission (2017-2021). What lessons and experience can Vietnam draw by overtaking different positions at the UN?

A: Through efforts taking part in activities at various UN agencies, Vietnam has shown a very high political commitment. I think this is not only a lesson but also an experience of multilateral diplomacy. At any position, in any UN agency, from the UN Economic and Social Council to the UN Human Rights Council or the UN International Law Commission, especially during the 2008-2009 tenure when Vietnam served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the country also made contributions in a very responsible and active manner. Other countries have relied on Vietnams’ role and contributions. This is obviously very important.

Through various positions at the UN agencies, Vietnam has collected confidence, understanding, knowledge, and bravery at multilateral meetings. In addition, from the practical experience at many different positions, Vietnam gained experience on coordination mechanism among the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnam's permanent mission, and other relevant agencies. We have maintained a coordination mechanism in close, regular, and consistent manner.

Moreover, after many years of standing in the leadership positions of these multilateral mechanisms, Vietnam has accumulated knowledge and operational skills. Therefore in terms of international integration, we have properly coordinated the national interests with the interests of the international community. It can be seen that external relations, especially the multilateral operation mechanism are always based on the principles of win-win and mutual benefits. Vietnam has proved that the country is a confident and responsible member.

Q: What is your opinion about the fact that Vietnam has gained support from all countries in the Asia-Pacific region to become the only candidate from the Asia-Pacific region for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure?

A: It can be seen that Vietnam's position and prestige has clearly reinforced in multilateral diplomatic activities at the UN. That position and prestige helped us to gain support from the regional countries.

The UN Security Council is a mechanism to ensure security but it also covers many other issues, meanwhile Vietnam has shown its role through various positions both at the UN and other specialised regional forums such as IPU, ASEM and APEC. The work is complicated but in any position, Vietnam has fulfilled its role well. Vietnam has also gained prestige in multilateral forums such as the APEC, especially in recent years; Vietnam has always shown its positive role in ASEAN.
Dialogue partners have attached great importance to the position of Vietnam in this organisation. I think this is a harmonious and positive combination of many factors so that Vietnam can fulfil its tasks.

Q: The current situation in the world compared to ten years ago has changed dramatically, but with its experience, how will Vietnam contribute to the work of the UN Security Council?

A: It is true that the current world political situation is very complicated, which make UN members feel insecure, such as the US-Russian relations; the US-China trade war; the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, among others. Therefore, the traditional and non-traditional missions of the UN, especially the Security Council have been severely affected.

Participating in resolving conflicts between nations is a complicated task but with its reputation and experience, Vietnam will actively implement its role and contribute to the stability and help to maintain peace throughout the world.

Vietnam has completed eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the 200-2015 period and is highly appreciated by the international community. Vietnam and other countries are currently implementing 17 common goals and 169 specific objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda for the 2015-2030 period. Vietnam's valuable practical experience is a contribution to promoting cooperation among countries.

Notably, in 2020 Vietnam will assume the role of ASEAN Chair. Vietnam will also be able to align the duties of the ASEAN Chair with the duties of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the same tenure, thus contributing more to maintaining peace and stability in the region as well as the world.

I believe that in such as variable global situation, Vietnam will always be active, proactive and contributing practically to maintaining peace and shared stability in the region and the world, in accordance with the principle and purpose of operation of the UN Security Council.

Thank you very much!