Vietnam’s proactive approach translated into int'l trust: UNESCO Chief Representative

WVR - Chief Representative of UNESCO Office in Vietnam Christian Manhart shared his impressions about cultural diplomacy and Vietnam's contributions in the organisation.
Chief Representative of UNESCO Office in Vietnam Christian Manhart. (Photo: PA)

Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo’s visit to Vietnam took place 6 months after UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay’s visit to Vietnam. It's certainly a recognition from UNESCO. How do you evaluate the role and efforts of Vietnam in UNESCO in recent years?

Vietnam is one of the most active member states with strong commitments in UNESCO’s activities.

Indeed, Vietnam has assumed important roles in almost all UNESCO mechanisms, including being a member of the UNESCO Executive Board (2021-2025), the Inter- Governmental Committee of the 2005 UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2021-2025), the Inter- Governmental Committee of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2022-2026).

Last year, Vietnam successfully organized the commemoration for the 1972 World Heritage Convention, in which UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay attended in Ninh Binh Province.

Early this year, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo also visited and worked with Vietnam’s World Heritage sites’ Management Board.

These demonstrate a very special relationship between Vietnam and UNESCO, affirming our shared vision on the needs and importance of preserving and promoting the values of heritage.

What are your assessments of Vietnam's cultural diplomacy strategies, considering culture as the spiritual foundation, endogenous resource and breakthrough motivation for socio-economic development and international integration?

I believe the country’s cultural diplomacy strategies have perfomed very positively as seen in the many achievements that I mentioned above.

In placing culture at the heart of development, Vietnam is able to leverage its massive potential in culture and heritage to achieve its socio-economic development and international integration objectives.

For example, the implementation of national strategies ranging from promoting the participation of Vietnamese cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network to creating enabling environment for sustainable tourism in the country not only sucessfully strategizes culture as a powerful tool for socio-economic growth but also draws in cooperation from local and international partners.

At the same time, Vietnam is able to aptly increase its presence in the international community through a strong commitment in UNESCO’s mechanisms. The multi-faceted approach that utilizes culture in every level of development has proved to be beneficial to the advancement of Viet Nam’s cultural diplomacy and the global perception of the country.

How have Vietnam's efforts in cultural diplomacy contributed to Vietnam's image in the eyes of international friends?

Vietnam has been able to build the image of a diverse and welcoming country that is always open to making friends with the world.

Now when we talk about Vietnam, its strikingly beautiful nature, rich culture, good food and in particular friendly people are perharps what first come to our mind. Such great impression relies greatly on the successful cultural diplomacy that Vietnam has worked on for decadeds.

Chief Representative of UNESCO Office in Vietnam Christian Manhart in a cultural event. (Photo: VNP)

In your opinion, what has helped Vietnam gain the trust of the international community, including UNESCO?

There are many factors contributing to Vietnam’s reliable image in the international stage.

Firstly, the country itself has remained socially and politically stable for a long period of time. It has been able to consistently develop its economic power with an amazing and constant economic growth since the end of the war.

With UNESCO specifically, the country has developed a tight-knit relationship by signing a special Memorandum of Understanding which leads our joint activities for the coming years.

Significant achievements such as being elected for the Inter-Governmental Committee of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage for a second time demonstrates how Vietnam’s proactive approach has translated into the international trust.

As one of the most active members of UNESCO, Vietnam takes up responsibilities in the complex internation context of today.

Could you share unforgettable memories about the country and people while living and working in Vietnam?

I have had many special memories of Vietnam and its lovely people throughout my term as the UNESCO Representative to Vietnam.

When I came to Vietnam 1.5 years ago, I have seen an impressive socio-economic development of a country that was once devastated by wars, and I truly admire by how much efforts Vietnamese people have put into the process.

Through my missions, I also had the opportunities to travel to many different regions of the country from the Northern mountainous areas to beautiful Southern beaches, which all possess incredible nature and welcoming locals. What I have observed and who I have interacted with will remain in my fond memory.

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(Source: WVR)