In this webinar, Dr Hoang Oanh explores the possible role that Vietnam can play in international peace and mediation.
VIETNAM STUDIES PROGRAMME
Tuesday, 19 May 2020 – The ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute held a webinar on “Exploring Vietnam’s Role in Peace and Mediation” on Tuesday, delivered by Dr Hoang Oanh. Dr Oanh is currently Deputy Director of the Center for Regional Studies and Foreign Policy at the Institute of Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, which she joined in 2007. Prior to this, Dr Oanh was a Visiting Fellow with the Vietnam Studies Programme at ISEAS.
Dr Oanh began her presentation by outlining a new thrust in Vietnam’s foreign policy – that of “actively participating” in, “actively contributing” to, and the “building and shaping” of multilateral institutions according to Directive No. 25 of the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee issued on 8 August 2018. This directive formalised and institutionalised Vietnam’s role as an international mediator, and further outlined the country’s aim to play a “pivotal, leading, [and] reconciling” role in accordance with the capabilities and interests of Vietnam.
In Dr Oanh’s assessment, this mediator role is driven by three factors. Firstly, there is domestic support for the country to take on such a role – Dr Oanh noted that there is a strong sense among the Vietnamese of responsibility and gratitude towards the international community. This mediator role also conforms with Vietnam’s cultural and historical traditions, Dr Oanh added. Secondly, Vietnam possesses the capabilities and advantages needed to take on this role. Lastly, this role ultimately serves Vietnam’s interests – it ensures the country’s security by contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful and stable external environment, as well as bolsters the country’s international standing and image.
Dr Oanh also elaborated on two possible cases in which Vietnam could function as an effective mediator – in Myanmar’s ongoing Rohingya conflict, as well as in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Dr Oanh noted that Vietnam is a neutral party in both cases, and in the Korean case enjoys the advantage of being a “trusted” party of North Korea’s, as evidenced by its hosting of the 2019 North Korea–United States Summit in Hanoi. While some initial steps have been made, Dr Oanh said that Vietnam would need to pay more attention to the implementation aspects.
The webinar was attended by some 60 participants from across academia, civil service, and the media, from both Singapore and abroad. Issues that were discussed during the virtual Q&A session included the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on Vietnam’s chairmanship of ASEAN, prospects of Vietnams role in ‘peace and mediation, the country’s position on the various Indo-Pacific strategies put forth by Asia-Pacific countries, as well as Vietnam’s increasing involvement in peacekeeping missions with the UN.