President Tran Duc Luong Speech at the Millennium Summit on Sept, 6th, 2000

President Tran Duc Luong calls for UN efforts for peace

"The Millennium Summit is an important event for mankind at the threshold of the 21st century and the third millennium. On behalf of the people and State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I would like to extend to the Millennium Summit and Your Excellencies our warmest congratulations. The Vietnamese people expect that this Summit will identify priorities, orientations and practical measures to make the United Nations an organisation struggling for the right to self-determination of all nations, international peace and security, and for the sake of development and prosperity, freedom and equality among states as spelled out in the United Nations Charter 55 years ago, ensuring a brighter future for mankind in the next century.

"As we move to the new century and millennium, all countries are posing to themselves a most serious question on their destiny as well as that of mankind.

"Over the last 100 years, mankind has made great leaps forward in their civilisation and knowledge, marked by their emancipation from slavery in the late 19th century, the routing of Fascism at the end of the Second World War, the collapse of the colonial system of colonialism; the emergence and gradual victory of the most progressive ideas to eliminate exploitation of men by men, oppression and exploitation of nations by nations in every form; moving toward a just and advanced world. Humanistic values of equality and equal rights for all nations and individuals as crystallised in the principles of the United Nations Charter are mankind's great achievements in the 20th century. Also in this century, mankind has been striving to understand the deep mysteries of nature, from the great macroworld of the universe to genetic engineering of the microworld, has built an advanced transport network linking continents together, giving rise to novel knowledge-based economic and commercial activities whose potentials cannot be all predicted at this moment. These are making profound changes in the economic, cultural and all other aspects of the human life. Nonetheless, globalisation and international economic integration do not present equal opportunities to all countries. The world we are striving for must be a civilised one in which all nations enjoy the same benefits of the scientific and technological revolution.

"Looking at the world overall picture, we can see many outstanding and potential problems. The most prominent of which are the state of injustice in the world, the ever-widening gaps between the rich and the poor, between democracy and imposition in international relations. Pollution and environmental destruction, rising crimes and epidemics, particularly the pandemics of drugs and HIV/AIDS, which continue to threaten the development of all countries. Developing countries, particularly least developed countries, are those that suffer. They are under the most intense pressure from development challenges. While a handful of countries and a small number of people are leading an ample life, dozens of countries and billions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America are being left in absolute poverty.

"Under the process of ongoing globalisation, advantages are, in the main, created for a minority of countries and development centres as well as powerful transnational companies. Meanwhile the interests of the majority of developing countries, who have lagged far behind the common development due to a variety of historical conditions and objective reasons, are rarely taken into account in the formulation of international trade and investment rules. The globalisation whirlwind dominated by harsh market rules continues to push many countries into the danger of being further impoverished or marginalised from the development process.

"The world's people all share the earnest aspiration to have peace, stability, justice and cooperation to create a favorable environment to focus on development and work together for solutions to pressing global problems. Learning from the lessons of success and failure in world's history over the last 100 years and in the United Nations' existence over the last 55 years, we, at this important Summit, would like to share the common views that the international community should give priorities to the following issues:

"First and foremost, allocate adequate resources to meeting the urgent demands for economic development and improvement of people's life. Especially, efforts should be made to address poverty, which is threatening the daily life of 5/6 of the world population and narrow down the development gap between rich and poor countries, between the North and the South.

"Develop the international economic, trading and financial relations as called for in the recent Havana Declaration. These should be fair, transparent and non-discriminatory, giving legitimate and satisfactory assistance and preferences to developing countries, including assistance by developed countries to their international economic integration and their accession into the WTO; refraining from imposing unreasonable conditions to restrict and eliminate the economic competitiveness of developing countries.

"Raise the level of Official Development Assistance to 0.7 percent of GDP to which developed countries have committed; improve preferential lending conditions; write down debt for developing countries and write off the same for least developed countries. Decisions by G8 countries on debt write off for heavily indebted poor countries are only initial steps in this direction.

"Accord and expand preferential treatment to developing countries in the transfer of technology, facilitate access to and effective use of new technology, particularly the information technology.

"Renew commitment to the programmes of action adopted at the United Nations international conferences on children, women, population, environment, drugs, social development and actively implement them through practical activities; considering them as urgent tasks to ensure that economic growth is associated with sustainable development and social equity.

"Strengthen peace and stability, create a favorable environment for development and poverty alleviation; develop just and civilised political-economic relations on the basis of the respect for national sovereignty. Exert greater efforts toward disarmament, against arms race, including the deployment of the TMD, with priority given to nuclear disarmament and other weapons of mass destruction; resolve conflicts through peaceful dialogue free from interference; reject and put an end to all acts of intervention, imposition, embargo and blockade as they not only violate the sovereignty of countries, threaten international peace and security but also cause untold sufferings to the people living under embargo and blockade like people of Iraq, Cuba and others....The 10 year-old embargo against Iraq has taken the toll of almost 1.5 million Iraqi, most of whom are children, women and old people due to the shortage of food and medicine. Local conflicts with outside intervention have taken the lives of many innocent people. These cannot be accepted by civilised mankind.

"Today, peace and development are associated with each other, only in peace and stability can we focus on development; in much the same way without prosperous development, and the eradication of poverty and injustice, peace and stability will not be maintained, in a country, a region or the world.

In that spirit, we share the view of the President as expressed in the draft Millennium Declaration that our countries have "separate responsibilities to our individual societies" and, at the same time, "have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of equality and equity at the global level". Accordingly, we welcome the efforts by the President of the UN General Assembly and the Secretary General of the United Nations in preparing for our Summit and their recommendations for giving priority to development, poverty alleviation, epidemic control and prevention, further assisting developing countries in their development process and integration into international economy, and addressing the uneven distribution of benefits when taking part in global economic and trade activities. It is important that we identify feasible measures to realise these goals.

"In development co-operation, learning from our experience with other countries, we would like to propose the followings to further promote the co-operation between developed and developing countries:

"Expand the three-party co-operation mechanism or the 2+1 formula, in which two developing countries and a donor or an international organisation as the third party cooperate in different fields, first in food security, agricultural development and poverty alleviation. Cooperation between Vietnam and friendly African countries like Madagascar, Benin, Senegal with the participation of the FAO, the initiative by our Cuban friends on South-South cooperation in the field of public health has shown that with international financial assistance developing countries can still tap their potential for effective co-operation and mutual assistance in resolving urgent issues of the day.
"Further promote initiatives for the co-operation among the less developed sub-regions; develop interstate economic development corridors, triangles and quadrangles with a view to maximising the local advantages; form liberal economic cooperation space; enlist assistance and investment from developed countries and other donors.
"In this spirit, the co-operation development programme along the West-East Corridor in the Mekong sub-region, which was adopted by the sixth ASEAN Summit in Hanoi and is to be financed by the ADB and developed countries, holds great promises.

"At the threshold of the new Millennium, a common question put to the international community is how to ensure that the United Nations, the most universal organisation, would make worthy contributions to the development of every country in a peaceful, just and sustainable environment.
"Over the past 55 years, the United Nations has significantly contributed to the realisation of the purposes and fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter for the sake of international peace and security, thus developing an equal international legal environment which upholds the respect for national independence and sovereignty in the interest of shared development cooperation. The valiant struggle of colonial countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America has brought about the UN's endorsement of the famous 1514 Declaration (1960) on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. As a result, a host of new countries regained independence from colonialism and became equal members in international relations and at the United Nations; UN membership has expanded from 51 founding states to 188. However, over the past 55 years, the UN, dominated from time to time by selfish interests, has been making attempts and actions running counter to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, detrimental to sovereignty, independence of states and the prestige of the Organisation itself.

"In order to enable the United Nations to play a more worthy role in the context of great changes taking place in the world, Vietnam shares the view commonly expressed by other countries that while complying with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter on the respect for sovereignty, non-interference into internal affairs of other states, the United Nations should carry out reforms toward greater democratisation, transparency, effectiveness in the service of the common interests of all countries, big and small. It should not be dependent on and dominated by the interests of any country or group of countries. Such serious violations of the UN Charter like the NATO military attack against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Kosovo must not be permitted to happen again. The United Nations must give adequate resources to assist developing and least developed countries, especially in poverty alleviation. We support the idea of strengthening the central role of the General Assembly, the representative body of all UN member countries, based on the principle of sovereign equality, and of reforming the Security Council and enlarging its membership, both permanent and non-permanent, to promote its representativeness, fairness and democratisation.
"With reforms taken along this direction, we are confident that in the new millennium, the United Nations will make increasing positive contributions to realising mankind's common objective of peace, independence, justice and prosperous development.

"At the dawn of the new millennium, the Vietnamese people are joyfully commemorating the 55th anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Having endured numerous hardships and made untold sacrifices for the era of independence and freedom, striving toward the objective of "wealthy people, economically strong country and equitable, democratic and advanced society", our people are deeply imbued with the truth "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom". We have made untiring effort to combine our internal strength and the strength of the times for our own existence and development. Vietnam has a vital stake in the common cause of the world people to develop fair international relations on the basis of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international laws, namely independence, sovereignty, non interference into each other's internal affairs and working for the sake of peace, independence and development.

"On the strength of the great achievements recorded over the past 15 years of Doi moi (renovation) such as high and stable economic growth and the improvement of people's life in every aspect, we are doing our utmost to bring our country to a higher stage of development, that of modernisation and industrialisation with the objective of making our country an industrialised country by 2020. In our development strategy, we advocate combining economic development with social development and consider human beings as the centre, impetus and objective of development. Development is in service of humankind. While it is at a low level of development in terms of GDP per capita, Vietnam ranks relatively high among developing countries in the HDI chart. In its future development strategy, the State of Vietnam considers education and training as well as scientific and technological development as the highest national priority.

"Agricultural development has been considered as a front of paramount importance, and as a result the nation has been able to maintain food security and increase its food export with every passing year. From a country with high population growth (over 2.3% a year) for a long time, Vietnam has reduced this rate to 1.7 percent, thanks to effective government policies and assistance by UN specialised agencies as well as other donors. Our achievements in these and the national programme in poverty alleviation have been appreciated by the United Nations. The ratio of poor households by Vietnamese standards has dropped from 30% in 1992 to 13% in 1999. We will continue to give priority to this task. With the efforts of each country and international cooperation, let us strive for this great humanist cause, for a civilised world or country as our President Ho Chi Minh said at the beginning of the Vietnamese revolution that ways must be found to "ensure adequate food, clothing and education for every one" and "all nations have the rights to be free and equal".
"After decades of protracted war of aggression, Vietnam is now on the path of renovation and an active member of the international community. We have so far established and developed diplomatic relations with nearly 170 countries in the world and entertained economic, trade and investment ties with 167 countries and territories. Vietnam is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Group 77 and the South forum, the organisation of French-speaking countries, the United Nations. It is also a member of ASEAN and President of its ASC, a member of APEC and ASEM as well as other international and regional organisations.

"Determined to intensify the renovation process and pursue the foreign policy of independence, sovereignty, diversification and multilaralisation along the line of befriending all countries in the world, Vietnam advocates the fullest use of its internal strength while mobilising external strength for the cause of industrialisation and modernisation and active integration into regional and international economies. From this August rostrum, we would like to reaffirm that in international relations, Vietnam has been and will be a constructive and reliable partner, striving for the world people's common goals of peace, justice, development, and equal and mutually beneficial co-operation.

"At this crucial moment of transition, we have sufficient grounds to be optimistic though concerned about the future of mankind. However, we all share the firm belief in the triumph of humanist and progressive values that mankind has achieved during its long history of struggle and creativeness. With that conviction, Vietnam looks forward to working closely with friends from all corners of the world to make the UN Millennium Declaration and its Millennium Summit an important landmark in UN history, starting the stage when the UN plays a more deserving role in the new century.

"In that spirit, we would like to solemnly propose to Your Excellencies that we declare the first decade of the 21st century "the Decade of Greatest Global Efforts toward Poverty Alleviation".

"It is our belief that with that Declaration, our Summit will meet our aspirations and remind us of our responsibilities to our nations."