After successfully assuming the role of chairman of the UN Security Council for the term 2020-2021, Vietnam once again held this role in April 2021.
Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao shared with the Laws of Ho Chi Minh City newspaper that: Vietnam plays an important role at the UN Security Council in the context of a lot of tension in the world. This is both a challenge but also an opportunity to play a growing role in the international arena.
- Be smart in the US-China conflict
Reporter: How do you Ambassador rate the US-China hotspot, which is two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, when Vietnam once again assumed the role of chairman of the UN Security Council in April?
Vietnam faces three major challenges at the United Nations
Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao: In March, the key event in US-China relations was the official high-level meeting of the US and China in Alaska. China wants the US to completely lift sanctions and anti-China measures, especially for high-tech companies launched under President Trump. The US denounces that China has ambitions to rise to the top of the world; suppress ethnic people in Xinjiang, violate human rights; intellectual property fraud; using coercive measures in relations with small countries, causing a negative impact on the world order.
This meeting marked a new turning point that the two countries officially declared war on a world order actively shaped by the parties. The US still wants to maintain the old world order established by the UN Charter since 1945 while China wants to establish a new world order, reform the UN, and divide its interests.
America is still the number one superpower, but its role is significantly reduced because it falls behind itself. There are elements of an alliance consisting of Russia and China dealing with the US. Meanwhile, the US and Chinese economies are still interdependent, the US still needs China in solving major world problems such as climate change.
How does this affect Viet Nam’s activities at the UN?
+ The US-China competition will directly affect the operation of the Security Council in April and the month that Vietnam is the chairman. It can be expected that the documents submitted to the Security Council will be difficult to have consensus results. Vietnam needs to wisely choose the issue, not get caught up in long and ineffective debates, and negatively affect future relations with other countries when it expires in the UN Security Council.
- Promote the Iran nuclear deal
In the Middle East, Russia continues to expand its air attacks on armed groups (opposing the Syrian regime) supported by Turkey. Meanwhile, the US-Iran relationship has not yet been resolved. How do you evaluate the situation of the Middle East in the month of Vietnam as chairman of the Security Council?
The Russian attacks in Syria are aimed at reinforcing the role of the Syrian government, while at the same time restraining Turkish ambitions here. If these wars do not affect US-backed forces, the US will not extend its intervention by withdrawing its troops from Syria and keeping only the main oil fields.
Two Chinese representatives (left) met two US representatives in Alaska in March 2021 (NIKKEI ASIA)
The hot spot in the Middle East remains US-Iran relations and the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After issuing the statements and the move affirming its determination to pressure the US to change policy and demand the lifting of sanctions before negotiating back to JCPOA, so far Iran has shown signs of reducing the tense tone. If Iran follows the commitments in the JCPOA, the US will do the same. This was supported by the European allies. Russia and China also agreed to lift the embargo.
It is possible for the parties to refrain from and soon return to the negotiating table for the implementation of the JCPOA. The US also wants a good deal with Iran as a model for North Korea and elsewhere. Countries in the region, especially Israel, want to be part of the JCPOA negotiating component to remove doubts about Iran and really strengthen regional security.
In such a context, how can Vietnam promote the role of the chairman of the Security Council?
As the chairman of the Security Council, Vietnam can play a catalytic role to promote the parties to consider early cooperation and implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement. This is an opportunity when most stakeholders agree that there should be a legal framework governing the nuclear issue in Iran, disagreeing only on the extent of restoring the old JCPOA or expanding negotiations for a new agreement.
- Myanmar Conflict Mediation
In Asia, the hottest spot is the Myanmar situation. How do you evaluate the Myanmar situation in the month of Vietnam as chairman of the Security Council?
+ The situation is out of control and may cause concerns, affecting the maintenance of international peace and security, forcing the Security Council to act. The US and China both calculate the Myanmar “card” to serve their interests. The US considers this a human rights issue, seeking to intervene to prevent Myanmar from falling into the hands of China. The US may condemn and impose sanctions, but it will not intervene militarily to avoid the quagmire lesson in the Middle East.
For China, Myanmar is an important stop on the road to the Indian Ocean, a factor in the Belt and Road strategy. Beijing cannot let the US punish the military regime because if the United States does it, it will become a precedent for the Xinjiang problem, intervening in China’s internal affairs. Nor did the Chinese military and military authorities foresee a strong response from the democratic movement in Myanmar and the Chinese campaign to destroy the cultural and economic bases there. Therefore, China calls for preventing further casualties, defusing the situation, intensifying diplomatic reconciliation, and promoting a conciliatory dialogue in Myanmar.
Both the US and China need a mediator and both must take into account ASEAN’s role in finding a solution to the Myanmar problem. However, ASEAN is also in a dilemma. This bloc has to ensure the general operating principle of the bloc (that is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries) and does not want the situation to explode, affecting security, politics, and relations between countries members and economic development of the bloc. It is difficult for the current chairman of Brunei to settle a settlement. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia all have internal problems similar to Myanmar and could break out. Myanmar’s military government also wants to find a way out of honor and guarantee its rights instead of constantly using military means against the people.
What should Vietnam do in this context?
+ Vietnam has emerged as a very good mediator. First, Vietnam has a reputation when completing the past ASEAN presidency. Second, Vietnam has a good relationship with Myanmar and can balance the US and China. Third, Vietnam will be chairman of the Security Council next month. We can take the initiative of a new UN resolution on Myanmar after consulting the parties.
Can you tell me more about this resolution?
The resolution should emphasize the requirement to immediately end the violence, stabilize the situation, and ensure the safety of civilians. The resolution will call on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and conduct a dialogue towards a satisfactory solution in accordance with Myanmar’s constitution and laws and the will and aspirations of the people. Organize early elections with the oversight of ASEAN and the United Nations as observers, ensuring fair, democratic elections can be the target of the parties.
Thank you, ambassador.