Vietnam celebrates UN Security Council seat
Vietnam on Wednesday celebrated a key step in its post-war global
reintegration after the United Nations accepted it for the first time as
a non-permanent Security Council member from next year.
Its new role will elevate Vietnam’s international prestige but also
force its leaders who have been keen on friendly ties with almost all
countries to make tough choices and take sides in world disputes,
The world body on Tuesday chose Vietnam, along with four other
newcomers, to sit on the 15-member council for two years from January 1,
meaning Vietnam will assume the rotating presidency for a month some
time next year.
Communist Vietnam joined the United Nations 30 years ago two years
after it emerged war-shattered but victorious from what is called here
the American War and Hanoi first applied for a council seat a decade
ago. Vietnam’s success in being chosen as the only new Asian country to
join the Security Council comes in the same year the country became the
150th member of the World Trade Organisation.
Taking a council seat “is an opportunity for Vietnam to improve the
prestige and image of a peace-loving country and make a realistic
contribution to the common struggle of humanity,” said foreign ministry
spokesman Le Dung.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said “becoming one of the 15 members
of the most important agency of the largest international organisation
is a great honour that also comes along with a heavy responsibility.”
For Vietnam “it is a major milestone for their diplomatic history,”
said David Koh, an analyst with the Singapore-based Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies.
Vietnam aimed “to play on a bigger stage, commensurate with their
intention to integrate with the world and to multilateralise their
foreign policy,” he said.
Vietnam expert Carl Thayer said Hanoi will earn respect from other
governments especially in the 53-nation Asia bloc it will speak for but
warned that it “will also have to make some hard decisions.”
“Up to now Vietnam has been a member of multilateral organisations
that meet annually and which do not make binding decisions,” said
Thayer, a veteran Vietnam-watcher with the Australian Defence Force
“Vietnam will have a vote on the most important issues facing the
Post-war Vietnam has been at pains to cultivate friendly relations
with countries ranging from the United States to Cuba, North Korea and
Iran. “Vietnam will find that its foreign policy platitudes of making
friends with all countries difficult to sustain when it is now required
to vote on issues,” Thayer told AFP. “Sitting on the fence is not an
Vietnam will also come under pressure to contribute troops to future
UN peacekeeping missions and there are suggestions that the country is
prepared to make a modest contribution to such efforts, said Thayer.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, writing in a newspaper this
month, lauded the UN for its role in maintaining world peace and
security and pushing for global disarmament.