UNDP helps Viet Nam develop its diplomatic muscle

Apr 25, 2002

Ha Noi - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a new initiative to support Viet Nam in developing the so-called "Multilateral Diplomacy", which looks at ways to articulate and pursue Viet Nam's national interest while making common cause with other countries.

The first activity of this progarmme - Strengthening Capacities for Multilateral Development Diplomacy - includes a fact-finding mission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to learn the international best practices in seven countries, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, France, Sweden and Canada.

"Diplomacy is not just dealing with protocol, rank and ceremony" said UNDP Resident Representative Jordan Ryan. "Increasingly, it is expanding, moving far beyond bilateral political relations between states into a multilateral, multi-faceted enterprise encompassing almost every realm of human endeavour".

The first round of substantial negotiations that Viet Nam started recently in Geneva as part of its official bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) illustrates one of the key roles of this new diplomacy. "It is not for the United Nations or anyone else to impose any particular arrangement on Viet Nam, but rather to assist the country to seize the opportunities offered by the globalization" noted Mr. Ryan.

The UNDP initiative helps build the capacity of Vietnamese diplomats to ensure the success of the country's rapid international integration. Viet Nam has been a full member of the United Nations System since 1977 and has since taken an active part in conferences, meetings, forums and other activities sponsored by the UN and its various agencies. It joined the Mekong Committee in 1957, the Mekong River Commission in 1995, ASEAN in 1995 and APEC in 1998.

Viet Nam's relations with the International Financing Institutions (IFIs) were normalized in late 1993 when the IFIs resumed their lending programmes to the country. Through recent bilateral and multilateral international agreements, Viet Nam has made commitments in various areas such as economic cooperation and official development assistance, trade and finance, environment and sustainable development as well as social and political issues.

The accelerating pace of globalization and economic integration compels countries to take this diplomacy to a new level. Without multilateral diplomacy, said Mr. Ryan, the world would become a messier place. "When it comes to dealing with problems such as pollution, HIV/AIDS, drug trafficking or terrorism -- none of which respects sovereignty or national borders --it's hard to imagine real success being achieved any other way".

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