According to a recent interview on Thanh Nien News, Vietnam hopes to join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the 2008-2009 term. On one hand, I believe it makes sense. Vietnam is the among the 15 largest nations in the world (according to population). And as a developing nation Vietnam might provide a counterbalance (as do many of the non-permanent rotating seats) to the heavyweight permanent member nations.
However, I am concerned given Vietnamese record of non-action when dealing with particular issues within the smaller alliances of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and ASEM (Asia Europe Economic Meeting). Take for instance, the issue of Myanmar which year after year continues to cause anguish and frustration among all other members. This year, for the record, the Myanmar situation and patience of the rest of the world had so diminished that it was discussed in a UN Security Council closed-door briefing just over a month ago and ASEAN took the unusual step of insisting on a visit to Yangon to access the situation (it was reported days ago that Myanmar has reneged on its offer to host ASEAN due to it's "being too busy"). What would Vietnam say, if the Myanmar issue were brought to the UN Security Council given its history of defending the military regime (see last year's ASEM held in Hanoi)? Such a hypothetical situation, for obvious reasons, presents a dilemma for Vietnam. Or on the recent flurry of arrests in Cambodia of human rights activists and opposition parties to the Vietnam-friendly Hun Sen government? Does Vietnam really want to attract attention to itself at this time?
The Thanh Nien interview also touches upon the prospect that Vietnam might have to send military troops abroad for international missions connected with the UN. The positive points include the improved training through interaction with and observation of multinational forces. However, would Vietnam send troops to participate in the coalition forces currently in Iraq "to promote democratic reform" given that state-organized protests against the US invasion of Iraq were widely reported in such public spaces as Youth Center (Nha Thanh Nhien).
Vietnam continues to push at full steam for WTO membership in a seemingly endless game of setting projection dates and then watching them float by unresolved. Yes. Vietnam must be a part of the international community and it deserves to be. But Vietnam must proceed carefully and for its own best interest. Concentrating on ending corruption, improving education, eradicating internal poverty and understanding the bird flu are good places to start.
Thanh Nien News. Vietnam at the threshold of UN Security Council membership
VietnamNet Bridge. SMEs key to WTO bid, but not just yet
Posted by on January 12, 2006 5:25 PM | Permalink