|Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao, a member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) for the term 2023-2027. (Photo: WVR)
In an interview with the World and Vietnam Report (WVR), Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao, a member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) for the term 2023-2027, expressed his happiness and pride when Vietnam was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), marking the second consecutive year that Vietnam was elected to important positions in the two main auxiliary bodies of the UN General Assembly.
As someone who also went through a competitive voting round to be re-elected as a member of the International Law Commission, could you please share your feelings when the name of Vietnam was once again called up at the agency of the top importance of the United Nations like the UNHRC?
I was very happy and proud when the name of Vietnam was announced by the President of the United Nations General Assembly 77th Csaba Korosi at the UN Headquarters in New York (USA) on October 11, announcing that Vietnam had been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2023 -2025.
Thus, for two consecutive years, Vietnam was elected for important positions in the International Law Commission and the UN Human Rights Council, the main auxiliary agencies of the UN General Assembly.
The support in this fierce competition has shown the international community's trust for Vietnam and its rising position, and in the foreign policy outlined by the Party and Government. This is also a worthy reward for the diplomats, especially the staff of the Department of International Organizations under the Ministry of Foreign Affaires, the Vietnamese Mission in New York and Geneva (Switzerland) who have overcome many obstacles for today’s success.
According to the Ambassador, why has Vietnam received so much support for the election to UN Human Rights Council, an important UN agency?
This success is significant because the competition in the Asia-Pacific group was higher than in other regions. Countries must choose 4 out of 7 candidates from the Asia-Pacific group. Although one country later withdrew, the competition was still fierce.
This vote took place at a time when the world is undergoing profound changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Such is a fierce competition, however, the reality shows that it is Vietnam's foreign policy of independence, respect for national sovereignty and principles of international law that has persuaded countries with opposing views on many issues of the world, so that they still believe and choose to vote for Vietnam. At the same time, this fact also refutes all doubts, misunderstandings or deliberate distortions about the achievements of human rights protection in Vietnam.
|"Such is a fierce competition, however, the reality shows that it is Vietnam's independent foreign policy, respect for national sovereignty and principles of international law that has persuaded countries with opposing views in many issues of the world, so that they still believe and choose to vote for Vietnam. At the same time, this fact also refutes all doubts, misunderstandings or deliberate distortions about Vietnam's achievements in protecting human rights" - Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao.
First of all, the countries voted for Vietnam because they saw Vietnam as an example of overcoming difficulties and best implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals of poverty reduction. Vietnam's poverty rate has fallen to 2.23% in 2021 compared with the period of 1995-2005. The UN Human Development Index report ranked Vietnam 115 among 191 countries, up 2 places compared to the previous year.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), human development is the creation of an environment in which people can develop to their full potential and lead productive, creative lives suitable to their needs and preferences. The upgrade of the human development index shows that Vietnam always takes care of and considers people the center, the driving force of the development, and real wealth of the nation.
Nikkei Asia (Japan) ranked Vietnam 8/121 countries and territories with the highest economic recovery rate after the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, much higher than Malaysia or Thailand in the same region. The worldwide growth rate, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2022 is 3.2% while the growth forecast for Vietnam, according to international organizations, is 6.5%-7% .
In addition, Vietnam has always paid attention to and taken care of vulnerable populations such as women, the elderly, children, and people with disabilities.
Second, the countries voted for Vietnam because they saw in Vietnam the ability to lead cooperation and be a reliable partner in times of trouble, in war as well as in peace.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has done well both in domestic pandemic prevention and control, and proactively launched initiatives to promote cooperation in fighting the pandemic and restoring regional and international supply chains.
As the ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnam took the initiative to establish the ASEAN Fund to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Vietnam took the initiative to make December 27 every year as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.
Vietnam, as a member of the UN International Law Commission, along with other members, actively participated with the WHO in forming the initiative and building an international agreement on pandemic prevention and preparedness, promoting the central role of the WHO in global cooperation.
|The success of this election also shows that Vietnam has a clear roadmap, well-prepared and effective election campaign strategy - Vietnamese delegation attended the session. (Photo: Vietnamese Mission to the UN/WVR)
Third, countries see in Vietnam the sincerity and seriousness, frank dialogue partner with other countries at the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycles. Thereby, Vietnam both protects the universal values of human rights enshrined in the UN Charter and Conventions on human rights, while emphasizing the importance of differences between countries in terms of economy and culture, history, religion in practice. During the third cycle of the UPR, Vietnam has accepted 241/291 recommendations and seriously implemented them.
Fourth, the success of this election also shows that Vietnam has a clear roadmap, well-prepared and effective election campaign strategy.
The participation in the UNHRC for the 2014-2016 term took place after 5 years of Vietnam's completion of the term of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. This time before the end of its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, since last year, Vietnam has started a campaign to prepare for candidacy and election to the UN Human Rights Council.
Vietnam has combined campaign advocacy in different forums, taking advantage of the absolute support of ASEAN and the Francophone Community, as well as the Asia-Africa Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) Conference.
Many advocacy initiatives have been launched, such as co-organising with Bangladesh and the Philippines a thematic session on ensuring the rights of vulnerable groups in the context of climate change, especially women and children in Vietnam at the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council. This is the basis for the UN Human Rights Council adopted the Resolution on climate change and human rights, focusing on food rights and climate change, which was adopted on July 8, 2022.
Within the framework of the 50th session of the UNHRC, Vietnam organized a "Photo exhibition on ethnic and religious communities in Vietnam: Harmony in Diversity" at the UN headquarters in Geneva on July 28, 2022, which was also the Vietnamese Family Day.
The message that Vietnam brings to the UNHRC for the term 2023-2025 is "Respect and Understanding. Dialogue and Cooperation. Ensure All Human rights for All”. What do you think about this principle and Vietnam's determination in promoting the principles of the UN Charter and international law to enhance the efficiency of the UNHRC in the coming term?
This motto emphasizes humanity's constant tendency to strengthen dialogue and cooperation to address global challenges. The motto of ensuring all human rights for all is a combination of Article 55 and Article 56 of the UN Charter, under which UN member states are obliged to promote human rights and essential freedoms “without distinction on the basis of race, sex, language or religion”.
This will be the guideline for Vietnam's activities in the term 2023-2025. First of all, Vietnam will fulfill its responsibilities as a member of the UN Human Rights monitoring body, seriously implement and mobilize countries to implement the UPR cycle IV.
|Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao at the "Photo Exhibition on ethnic and religious communities in Vietnam: Harmony in Diversity” at UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in July. (Photo: Courtesy)
Vietnam needs to continue to show itself as a serious, responsible, proactive, and active member in formulating and negotiating resolutions and decisions of the UNHRC, contributing to ensuring the common values of human rights, actively contributing to UN activities on all three pillars of peace - security, development and human rights.
At the same time, Vietnam will also continue to promote dialogue and cooperation to achieve its priorities, especially protecting vulnerable groups and ensuring human rights in response to global issues such as climate change, sea level rise, pandemics, armed conflicts, preventing the use of nuclear weapons, etc.
International dialogue and cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding is the key to promoting human rights, meeting the needs, conditions and legitimate interests of countries, especially developing countries.