July 9, 2020

Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN in a Changing World

Priorities of Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020

By H.E. Ngo Thi Hoa, Ambassador of Viet Nam to the Netherlands

Viet Nam takes over the ASEAN Chairmanship in a rapidly changing regional and  global landscape where opportunities are intertwined with challenges. Amidst the prevailing trends of peace, stability and cooperation for development, new uncertainties, disruptions and complexities are arising from the geostrategic, political, economic, societal and technological domains. As a result, regional countries are under greater pressure to carefully navigate their policies to maintain an environment conducive to peace, stability and economic growth. 

Multilateralism in Viet Nam’s Foreign Policy 

2020 holds a significant meaning as Viet Nam will assume both the ASEAN 
Chairmanship and a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). At the UNSC, Viet Nam will work earnestly with other Council members, to preserve regional and international peace and stability, and to promote sustainable development goals and inclusive economic growth. It is also our priority to act as a bridge between ASEAN and the UN to realize common goals, particularly in conflict prevention and sustainable peace.

 2020 also marks the 25th anniversary of Viet Nam’s ASEAN membership. Viet Nam has made great strides over the past 24 years in fulfilling its membership duties, honouring its commitments to ASEAN agreements, and actively contributing to ASEAN’s development. For example, Viet Nam is the second ASEAN member state after Singapore to implement all the AEC action lines, and is a pioneer in maintaining peace, stability and security in the region.

2020 Theme: Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN

The theme of Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020 – Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN – reflects the spirit of “Thinking as a Community, Acting for Community” in response to the challenges and opportunities ahead. Guided by this overarching theme, Viet Nam will focus on five key priorities during its ASEAN Chairmanship.

Unity and Solidarity: Unity and solidarity form the most important glue that makes a cohesive and responsive community. ASEAN has helped transform Southeast Asia from instability to stability, antagonism to cooperation, poverty to prosperity, a loose association to one of the world’s most viable and successful regional organisations.

These past records attest to ASEAN unity and solidarity as the key to its success and strength. Viet Nam will work to reinforce ASEAN Centrality and solidarity, forge closer relations and mutual support among the Member States, develop ASEAN’s collective approach on international and regional issues, and respond to challenges and threats to regional peace and security in an effective and timely manner.

Economic Interests: Common interests lay the foundation for a cohesive community.Viet Nam will look to maximise the convergence of economic interests among ASEAN member states who share the key objective of achieving an ASEAN single  market and integrated production base. 

Commonalities: As a cohesive community, ASEAN should forge commonalities through regional events that touch our everyday life. For example, the recent decision for ASEAN Member States to launch a joint bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup will help inculcate a strong sense of community among Southeast Asians. Viet Nam will step up efforts in raising ASEAN’s profile and visibility in the Member States, so that their citizens understand ASEAN’s importance at the grassroots level. 

Partnership: The past 52 years have shown that ASEAN cannot advance its goals  alone. ASEAN community-building requires both intra-regional integration efforts and partnerships with different countries and organisations further afield. Viet Nam will look to reinforce partnerships for peace and sustainable development through deepening and elevating relationship with partners around the world, enhancing ASEAN’s role and image in the global community, and contributing to shaping the 
new regional and global architecture. 

Institutional capacity: A cohesive and responsive community must be anchored in its strong institutional capacity. To stay relevant to new developments, ASEAN-led mechanisms and processes must be effective, efficient, nimble and outcome-driven. 

Viet Nam will therefore seek to increase ASEAN’s operational capacity and efficiency through institutional reforms and improvement of rules of procedures and processes within ASEAN-led mechanisms

The past achievements and experiences will enable Viet Nam to assume the ASEAN Chairmanship with confidence. As the ASEAN Chair, Viet Nam looks forward to promoting bilateral relations with fellow ASEAN member states and external partners.The Chairmanship also provides opportunities for Viet Nam to enhance its international profile, and promote the Vietnamese culture and soft power to the world.

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