Final Pitching Round: National Essay Competition to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations 1945 - 2020

Opening remarks by Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, Viet Nam

  • Excellency Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, Former Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations
  • Mr Do Hung Viet, Director General, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam
  • Ms Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, Resident Representative, UNDP Viet Nam, and other UN Colleagues,
  • Essay Finalists

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning. Xin Chao!

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all on behalf of the United Nations to the Final Pitching Round for the National Essay Competition to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. This is another very important UN 75th Anniversary commemoration event. I understand there were 156 applicants from all across the country including one online participant from Australia, and there are 6 finalists today. Congratulations to the finalists. This event follows closely on the heels of the UN 75th Anniversary Photo Contest in 2020 for which we got close to 1000 entries of which four were given prizes at a ceremony at the Viet Nam Women’s Museum a few months ago and close to 50 of the most meaningful and striking photographs were on display there for 2 weeks after the prize winning ceremony. These photo exhibits then moved to the Daewoo Hotel where we commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations in late October. The photo contest was a major UN-wide event led by our Vice-Chair of the One UN Communications Group, Elisa Fernandez-Saenz, the UN Women Representative in Viet Nam.

I wish to offer our sincere gratitude to our Panel of Expert Judges today, in particular our good friends and partners of the United Nations, Madame Nguyen Phuong Nga, and Mr Do Hung Viet, both of whom I had also invited to be on the 6 person judging panel for the 75th Anniversary Photo Contest which I chaired. While DG Viet was able to join that panel as well—and so he can now be regarded as a veteran of such judging panels—Mdme. Nga had another prior commitment that day, so I am very pleased that she can join us today. Both senior Vietnamese diplomats have served Viet Nam with great distinction at the United Nations in New York, including, in the case of Mdme. Nga, as Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations in New York during the negotiations and adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Both still continue to demonstrate their tremendous commitment to the work of the United Nations even after their return to Viet Nam from New York for which I am grateful. Special thanks to Mdme. Nga for her contribution to this event. I am told by UNDP that she helped launch and promote the competition at an Inspirational Talks event with over 100 students at the University of Languages and International Studies on 13 November. We at the UN, and our young essay finalists, are honored to have both of you here with us this morning.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Viet Nam on the recent adoption by the UN General Assembly of the ‘International Day for Epidemic Preparedness’ on December 27, Louis Pasteur’s birthday. The successful effort on this was led by Viet Nam with the support of a number of other UN Member States and reflects the growing standing of Viet Nam in the international community on this critical set of issues, in particular following its swift and effective management of the health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its leadership on the global stage is, however, not just restricted to this area. Its leadership in the UN Security Council on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda since 2009 when it sponsored UNSCR 1889 and by hosting the recent December 7-9 2020 hybrid conference on Women, Peace and Security in Hanoi—with UN support led by me and Vietnamese Government preparations led by DG Viet—leading to the Hanoi Commitment to Action is yet another good example as is Viet Nam’s increasing contribution to global peacekeeping, including by having already met the global target for the proportion of women peacekeepers in its UN contingents.

In this context, a key message that I would like to share with all of you is that while the partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Viet Nam has been a special and close one for over four decades now since it joined the UN in September 1977, this relationship has evolved over time as it should, and now focuses not only on what the UN can do to support the Government of Viet Nam and its people inside the country but also regionally and globally—the latter has been and remains an important priority for me as UN Resident Coordinator. Viet Nam has made important contributions to multilateralism globally as I have just illustrated, including by helping to protect peace and advance friendly relations among nations. It also chaired ASEAN in 2020 with numerous achievements including agreements of the next ASEAN-UN Plan of Action 2021-2025 agreed at the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi almost exactly a month ago. It is also increasingly participating in South-South cooperation efforts, sharing its successful poverty reduction and other experiences with other nations to help improve the lives of their citizens. Domestically, by dramatically increasing per capita GDP manifold since 1990, significantly reducing extreme poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy since Doi Moi in 1986, and improving respect for citizen’s rights and freedoms, the Government of Viet Nam has increased the quality of life for all Vietnamese over the last three decades.

Over 20 resident and non-resident agencies of the UN, including UNDP, currently work closely with government partners and non-state actors in Viet Nam under my leadership to advance the SDGs. I am told that essay finalists here this morning have captured both the domestic and international aspects of the UN’s partnership with Viet Nam and I look forward to reading more about this later in your essays.

As Resident Coordinator of the UN in Viet Nam, I have been in the privileged position to grow and advance the important partnership between the UN and Viet Nam over the past almost 4 years not just domestically but also in its regional and global dimensions as I have already indicated. We will now try and agree on a new partnership framework for the next 5 years starting 2022, in the context of both UN Development System Reform and the COVID-19 pandemic whose socio-economic impact remains severe globally, including for Viet Nam at the country level. In this context, on 2 nd December 2020, I co-chaired an informal Roundtable Discussion with Mr. Le Hoai Trung, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs reviewing both the SDG results achieved through our One Strategic Plan 2017-2021 thus far, also beginning to identify agreed areas of priority in the Decade of Action in a post pandemic context, seeking to Leave No One Behind as we move forward to achieving Agenda 2030. The UN and Government of Viet Nam’s next One Strategic plan 2022-2026, or the UN SDG Cooperation Framework as it is now known globally by the UN, will be critical in Viet Nam’s efforts to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals which comprise the 2030 Agenda. This afternoon, I will have my first meeting with the newly appointed Vice Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment to officially start the process of agreeing a Roadmap for the preparation and agreement of this next UN Cooperation Framework which we hope to agree with the Government of Viet Nam by mid-2021.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I can say confidently, and with great pleasure, is that the strong partnership between the UN and Viet Nam is as strong as ever and should grow even stronger in the years ahead. As I said in my speech earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations which I commemorated on the UN’s behalf together with His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, Pham Binh Minh, who represented the Government of Viet Nam at it, we are living in extremely challenging times. Let us remind ourselves that the decisions we make today will significantly impact the future we want. And in this regard, the partnership between the UN and Viet Nam remains as important as ever, to meet the challenges that face not just Viet Nam but all of us globally and in the region. We all have both a responsibility and obligation to make the right decisions for succeeding generations. To quote from the Secretary-General’s 2020 UN Day statement commemorating our 75th Anniversary: “The United Nations not only stands with you, but it belongs to you and is you. Together, let us uphold the enduring values of the United Nations Charter.”

Allow me to conclude by thanking UNDP for taking the lead on this essay competition initiative which should make an important contribution to the UN’s many events this year commemorating our 75th Anniversary. I also wish to once again thank our Judges and especially our Young Essay Finalists whose timely reflections on both what this partnership has achieved so far and what it should focus on as Viet Nam moves forward in the region and the world over the coming decades will be very important for us to reflect on at the UN as we begin the process of drafting our new Cooperation Framework for the 2022-2026 period in January 2021 in this Decade of Accelerated Action to achieve the SDGs in an extremely challenging and dramatically changed post-COVID-19 world.

I thank you for listening. Xin Cam on!

Speech by
Kamal Malhotra
UN Resident Coordinator
KM profile
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Development Programme