UN Resident Coordinator in Việt Nam Kamal Malhotra
UN Resident Coordinator in Việt Nam Kamal Malhotra spoke with Vietnam News Agency about how Việt Nam will have more opportunities to prove its capability and play a more important role in regional and global issues if it is elected to the UN Security Council (UNSC)
As you know Việt Nam has actively participated in and contributed to a number of United Nations activities over the last 40 years. What is your assessment of Việt Nam's contribution and participation?
Việt Nam has been a very consistent supporter of multilateralism which is what the United Nations stands for so we feel we can rely on Việt Nam as a strong consistent supporter of multilateralism.
Việt Nam was already in the UNSC 10 years ago, in 2008-2009. It played an important role in supporting the resolution on women's peace and security and I think that was a landmark resolution for the Security Council.
Việt Nam's also been increasing its role in global peacekeeping. Last year Việt Nam sent its first assistance to a hospital in South Sudan with 63 people.
Việt Nam has shown a commitment to continue to increase its role in global peacekeeping.
Also, Việt Nam participated in the UN Human Rights Council in 2014-2016 and just at the end of last year Việt Nam was elected to UNCITRAL – the UN Commission on International Trade Law – which once again is a new role for a six-year term, starting this year. This shows Việt Nam's commitment to integration, particularly trade integration, and following international law in trade and economic matters.
So there are a number of areas in which Việt Nam is increasingly contributing and participating in the UN and globally.
As you have mentioned, recently Việt Nam has been participating in UN peacekeeping operations. Can you further elaborate what you see as Việt Nam's role in that?
Under my leadership, the United Nations presented a discussion paper at a conference that I attended with Deputy Minister of Defence Nguyen Chi Vinh last November. In that, we laid out some challenges and a potential strategy for Việt Nam. We think Việt Nam can contribute much more to peacekeeping through enabling units including in the area of health and hospitals. Also in the area of engineering I know Việt Nam is also keen to participate.
But we also think that Việt Nam needs to now focus a lot on a long-term strategy, where more and more people are trained in the standards that are required for international peacekeeping.
So there's a lot to be done. Việt Nam has shown an interest in participating more actively and this is one of my top priorities in the years ahead.
Along with the UNSC nomination for the 2020-2021 term, in 2020, Việt Nam will also take the role of rotating Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN ). What does this mean for Việt Nam, ASEAN and the UN?
This is a very challenging time as I said. Both globally and regionally there are a lot of major issues. Việt Nam will be assuming at the same time, possibly a role in the Security Council as well as that of ASEAN chair.
Việt Nam will have a huge responsibility, partly to ensure that there is co-operation between global bodies like the UN and regional bodies like ASEAN. So I think one of the priorities of Việt Nam will be to show the synergy between the global body and the regional body on critical regional issues.
I said earlier that it's a very divided UNSC and a much more challenging period globally than it has been for a long time.
Some people feel multilateralism is under threat. It is very important that the Security Council and Việt Nam come up with a strong defence of multilateralism. We will count on Việt Nam to do that, and we will count on Việt Nam to play an important constructive role on major issues that the council is dealing with, which include DPRK.
Việt Nam recently was the venue for the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un. Since DPRK is one of the top agenda items for the UNSC, we hope that Việt Nam can play a constructive role in that.
There are issues to do with global peacekeeping which the council will be dealing with on a regular basis. Việt Nam will have more credibility now to speak on these issues because it is contributing more, but I think the next two years Việt Nam will have to significantly increase its contribution to global peacekeeping to be more credible to talk about these issues.
So I think that there is a lot of potential for the two roles to come together and I think Việt Nam is in a unique position because very few countries have an opportunity to serve in the UN Security Council at the same time they're chairing a regional body.
If you could send a message to the Government and people of Việt Nam, what would that be?
I think that Việt Nam is now becoming more confident about its role in the region and the world and I think that's a good thing.
This is the time for Việt Nam to share its experience with the rest of the world: its experience in post-conflict recovery and development, its experience in achieving the millennium development goals well ahead of schedule, its commitment to the sustainable development goals and its role in global peacekeeping – which is a wonderful story for a country that was at war for so long to now be contributing to global peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
I think this is the time for Việt Nam to come out and to share its experience but also remain open to learning from other countries in the region and globally. And I believe the United Nations which has been a strong partner of Việt Nam for the last 40 years will continue under my leadership to remain a strong partner as Việt Nam takes this new role over the next few years. VNS