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May 31, 2022 / 17:20

How Vietnam contributes to UN peacekeeping missions over eight years?

Vietnam, despite being a newcomer, has appeared to be an active contributor to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in the past eight years.

Vietnam’s top defense officers have reaffirmed that participating in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UN PKO) had become a pillar in the army's defense diplomacy and a spotlight on its multilateral cooperation.

  Vietnamese peacekeepers serving with the UN mission in South Sudan plant a sapling as part of a project with local youth. Photo: Lieutenant Phuc Nguyen Tien/UNMISS

This is proved through the country's contributions to UN PKO despite being a newcomer in the global security drive eight years ago.   

Vietnam began peacekeeping missions in June 2014. In November 2020, the National Assembly passed a resolution to provide a comprehensive legal framework for Vietnamese troops to engage in peacekeeping activities. 

Vietnam’s 2019 Defense White Paper noted that as a responsible member of the international community, Vietnam is keen on fulfilling its duties while actively cooperating with other nations to address emerging security issues, contributing to the protection of peace and stability in the region and the world. Vietnam appreciates the role of the UN in peacekeeping preventing conflict and war. 

Vietnam has emerged as an active contributor to UN PKO. Since 2014, Vietnam has deployed 512 personnel to UN headquarters and peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and Central Africa. These include 76 military officers (military advisors, observers, and liaison officers), 252 medical personnel of level-2 field hospitals, and 184 sappers. 

So far, Vietnam has signed memorandums of understanding on peacekeeping cooperation with nine countries, the UN and the European Union. Some partners, such as the US, France, Japan, and Australia, have supported Vietnam with training, facilities, equipment, vehicles, and transportation of peacekeepers to UN PKO, according to Phan Xuan Dung, a research officer at the Vietnam Studies Program of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, and Nguyen Cao Viet Hung, an MA student at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University, Japan.  

Vietnam’s growing peacekeeping commitments are also motivated by perceived gains from joining the UN missions, namely strengthened national defense capabilities and enhanced international reputation, helping the country gain credibility as a responsible UN member, and augmenting its overall global diplomatic standing. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc that Vietnamese personnel had fulfilled their duties in an excellent manner and acted as exemplars for peacekeepers from other countries. On the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29, three Vietnamese peacekeepers were awarded the Dag Hammarskjold medal by the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare. 

Lieutenant Colonel Luong Truong Vinh, Lieutenant Colonel Tran Duc Huong, and Major Nguyen Phuc Dong were honored by UN leaders for their efforts and special achievements during their work at the UN headquarters in New York. They are among 82 military officers and police in 28 countries who were honored for their contributions to global security. 

Women peacekeepers - a highlight of Vietnam's peacekeeping missions 

“I am very excited and determined to join this mission no matter how many difficulties ahead we might face deserving being a Vietnamese soldier who is known for being brave and dedicated to the common cause,” Le Dieu Hoa, 29, shared before leaving for the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Abyei, theater of a long-running conflict in Africa, Tien Phong reported. 

 Le Dieu Hoa, a pharmacist, works at Level 2-4 Field Hospital in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Photo: Tien Phong

Hoa became the youngest peacekeeper of Vietnam’s Engineering Unit Rotation 1 to take on missions in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). However, the young pharmacist didn’t mind the difficulty her unit will face in the disputed border region thousands of miles away from her home country. 

Hoa is one of 21 Vietnamese female peacekeepers in the 184-member Engineering Unit taking charge of repairing and upgrading roads and airstrips coupled with ensuring goods transport, doing humanitarian works, and supporting other UN humanitarian units. 

Meanwhile, the mission starting in April 2022 in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is the second of Lieutenant Colonel Do Thi Hang Nga, Deputy Director of Level 2.4 Field Hospital, joined the UN peacekeeping operations. 

This is the second time I’ve been on a mission, no more worries and surprises like the first time but this is a new task, so I came with some concerns and thought about my new role in ensuring the maximum safety of the unit members and local people,” Tien Phong cited Nga, who added that she and her team were determined to fulfill their tasks despite difficulties. 

Bui Thi Khiem, 30, a health worker at Level 2.4 Field Hospital in UNMISS, shared “I leave for the mission abroad with confidence thanks to the great support of my family and well-trained courses on English and knowledge in treatment coupled with others on first aid, air medical transport, and International Humanitarian Law.” 

The aforementioned female peacekeepers are among dozens of Vietnamese women military officers deployed in UNISFA, UNMISS, and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). 

The Vietnamese female peacekeepers mainly work for field hospitals in Africa. Their participation helps increase the Vietnamese female percentage in the UN peacekeeping missions, varying between 16% and 21%, compared to 5.4% in the UN average. 

Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, Deputy Minister of National Defense, remarked that Vietnamese female soldiers had been highly appreciated by the United Nations for their professionalism, ability to fulfill missions, and becoming a highlight in many UN activities in field missions. 

Embassies of Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland (G4) have highlighted the importance of Vietnam’s women peacekeepers, saying that they have a great role in mediation and finding peaceful solutions that work for all, bringing a fairer and better world. 

Jan Wilhelm Grythe, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Norway in Vietnam said: “Having a high female percentage in peace processes can help increase trust and success. This is not a matter of right, but also a matter of getting effective results. Failure to include women is not smart! No peace without women!”  

Championing women’s participation in peacekeeping could be a niche diplomacy area for Vietnam, given the country’s success in this regard and its efforts in advancing the UN agenda on women, peace, and security, said Phan Xuan Dung and Nguyen Cao Viet Hung. 

 Vietnam's Lt. Col. Tran Duc Huong was awarded a UN medal for his contributions to the world's security missions. Photo: UN