Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy

WVR - In recent times, with the strong engagement of various ministries and sectors, spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vietnam's multilateral legal diplomacy has achieved significant accomplishments. These achievements have played an important role in enhancing Vietnam's position and prestige on the international stage.
Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy
Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son signed the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) in New York, USA, on September 20, 2023. (Photo: Nguyen Hong)

The recent accomplishments in multilateral legal diplomacy continue to affirm Vietnam's image as an active, responsible member upholding the rule of law within the international community.

The proactive application and development of international law have contributed to improving the effectiveness of external affairs work, providing additional momentum for the successful implementation of important upcoming tasks, and contributing to the successful realization of the Party and State's foreign policy.

Assuming many Important positions in International Organizations

For the first time, Vietnam has assumed many important positions in multilateral legal mechanisms such as the International Law Commission (ILC), the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of the International Seabed Authority, and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

At the International Law Commission (ILC), Vietnam's representative, Associate Professor Dr. Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao, was re-elected as a member for the second term of 2023-2027 after successfully completing the first term from 2017-2022. The re-election of Vietnam's representative to the International Law Commission (ILC), an organization responsible for promoting the codification and development of international law, demonstrates the international community's support and trust in Vietnam's efforts and positive contributions to the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral institutions. It also reflects the growth of Vietnam's multilateral diplomacy and its proactive role in contributing to the development of international law.

In the field of ocean and maritime law, Vietnam has established and effectively maintained a network of experienced Vietnamese experts in marine and ocean management at multilateral forums such as the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea.

In 2022, Associate Professor Dr. Đao Viet Ha became the first Vietnamese person elected as a member of the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) for the 2023-2027 term. The LTC is a specialized body of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It functions to provide recommendations for the ISA to carry out its tasks of managing the exploration and exploitation of non-living marine resources on the seabed.

During its first term as a member of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) from 2019-2024, Vietnam has actively and substantively participated in the process of developing international trade regulations. This participation has enhanced the country's image and position, elevating multilateral diplomacy. Consequently, relevant ministries and sectors have proactively grasped the development trends in international commercial law, gaining international experience and practices to support research and the improvement of domestic laws aimed at economic integration. This also serves the country's economic diplomacy. Vietnam's representatives have been trusted and consecutively elected as Rapporteur of Working Group II of UNCITRAL for the past two years.

Deepening Relations with Multilateral Legal Institutions

In 2022, after a decade of relentless efforts since Vietnam acceded to the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representative Office was inaugurated in Hanoi. This office is one of five PCA representative offices worldwide.

Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy
Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy: On the morning of November 24, 2022, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Sơn and PCA Secretary-General Marcin Czepelak cut the ribbon at the inauguration ceremony of the PCA Representative Office in Hanoi. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

This event not only demonstrates Vietnam's recognition of the PCA as a renowned international dispute resolution body that effectively and positively contributes to resolving disputes and maintaining international peace and security, but also reflects Vietnam's strong commitment to promoting multilateralism, upholding the UN Charter, and the principles of international law, including the promotion of peace and the resolution of international disputes.

Since its establishment, the cooperative activities between the two parties have been actively promoted, notably through events commemorating the first anniversary of the PCA Office in Hanoi and the 125th anniversary of the PCA. Vietnam is one of the key nations sponsoring and promoting the adoption of the UN Resolution commemorating the 125th anniversary of the PCA.

By deepening cooperation with international legal mechanisms, Vietnam has harnessed external resources to train its legal personnel, ensuring they are increasingly capable of fulfilling their duties. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UNCITRAL Secretariat for technical assistance cooperation and the MoU with the Hague Academy of International Law for staff training are outcomes of building and promoting positive cooperative relationships with these organizations.

Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy
Vietnam attends Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 125th anniversary in The Hague: Deputy Foreign Minister chaired a discussion on dispute solution in Asia-Pacific and the role of the PCA. (Photo: WVR)

In 2023 alone, Vietnam participated in two advisory opinion procedures of international judicial bodies: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), concerning climate change issues. This not only affirms the priority and concern at all levels, from all ministries and sectors of the country regarding climate change but also demonstrates Vietnam's respect for and support of international judicial bodies.

For the first time, Vietnam fully participated in all stages of the ITLOS advisory opinion procedure regarding the obligations of countries related to climate change. Vietnam also joined the Core Group sponsoring the ICJ Resolution requesting an advisory opinion on the responsibilities of states concerning climate change.

Although Vietnam had previously participated in two ICJ advisory opinion procedures, its level of engagement in the two advisory opinion procedures over the past year represents a new development in Vietnam's interest and awareness of important international legal issues.

Additionally, Vietnam has been actively engaged in establishing the "rules of the game" in new areas, such as the Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) and the Cybercrime Convention (AHC).

The contributions of the Vietnamese delegation in the negotiations have significantly impacted many important aspects of these documents. Vietnam was among the first countries to sign the BBNJ Agreement on the opening day for signatures, September 20, 2023, at the UN headquarters. Regarding the Cybercrime Convention, Vietnam has taken on the role of coordinator for the provisions on law enforcement measures and participated in the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) for drafting the Convention.

Vietnam has demonstrated its ability to participate in and lead the common trends of small and medium-sized countries in formulating and applying rules to maximize the protection of its national interests in the current complex international context.

Determination to successfully implement upcoming tasks

The notable achievements mentioned above serve as a foundation and motivation for the decisive and successful implementation of multilateral legal diplomacy tasks in the near future.

Recently, Vietnam decided to nominate Associate Professor Dr. Nguyễn Thị Lan Anh, Director of the East Sea Institute at the Diplomatic Academy, for the position of ITLOS judge for the 2026-2035 tenure. At the 34th Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS (SPLOS-34) in New York in June 10-13, the Vietnamese delegation, led by Standing Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Minh Vũ, initiated the first activities in the campaign to support Vietnamese candidate.

Advancing achievements in Multilateral Legal Diplomacy
Vietnam calls for continuous goodwill implementation of UNCLOS 1982: Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu and the Vietnamese delegation at the SPLOS-34. (Photo: WVR)

Additionally, Vietnam is campaigning for international support for its re-election as a member of UNCITRAL for the 2025-2031tenure, following the completion of the 2019-2025 term.

Meanwhile, Vietnam continues to actively participate in multilateral legal diplomacy activities, such as directly presenting its national standpoint at the ICJ regarding advisory opinions related to climate change, and proactively shaping the rules within the framework of new international legal documents concerning cybercrime, plastic waste, and other issues, to ensure the highest national interests are protected.

In the upcoming period, the implementation of multilateral legal diplomacy tasks requires concerted efforts and determination from ministries and sectors to achieve common goals, contributing to the successful implementation of the Party's foreign policies and guidelines in line with the directives of the 13th Party Congress Resolutions and Directive 25-CT/TW dated August 18, 2018, from the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on enhancing and elevating multilateral diplomacy until 2030.

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