According to VUFO’s new Chairwoman, Madam Nguyen Phuong Nga, the solidarity and collective effort of the entire system will be the power helping VUFO overcome all challenges, harness opportunities to excellently fulfill its missions in the new year.

VUFO Chairwoman Nguyen Phuong Nga (photo: P.H)

In a recent interview with the Vietnam Times, she also shares her sincere thoughts to people who work to promote people-to-people diplomacy.

Dear Madam Chairwoman, could you share with us some of the key goals that VUFO is striving to achieve in 2019?

2019 is a critical year to VUFO since the success of the first year of tenure 2019-2023 will create the momentum for strong progress in the years to come.

Therefore, first and foremost, we have to thoroughly accomplish all the tasks of 2019 Work Plan, fulfilling our role as the core agency in the field of people-to-people diplomacy, improving the effectiveness of our work in all areas, including:

Continuing to proactively consolidate the relationships with partners, while expanding our international friends network, especially people from neighboring countries, ASEAN, countries which are Vietnam’s strategic partners, traditional friends.

The task will be completed via reinforcing activities promoting solidarity, friendship, friendly cooperation and exchange programme at both central and local level, taking account of the improvement in both quality and quantity, contributing to foster the relations between Vietnam and other countries in a more in-depth and practical way, increasing the trust of international friends for Vietnam.

In addition, we need to mobilize and ultilize Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)’ aid more effectively, including capital, technology, knowledges to practically boost the country’s sustainable development, particularly in the fields of poverty reduction, postwar relief, healthcare, education, environment protection, response to climate change, human resources training, etc.

Furthermore, we need to promote the role of Vietnam in the field of conformity to international law, promoting Vietmam’s achievements in human rights, democracy, protecting and advocating the country’s interest, especially in issues such as sustainable management of Mekong river’s water resources, assistance for Agen Orange/Dioxin victims... in regional and global multilateral mechanism (particularly the United Nations’ forums, the ASEAN People’s Forum (APF), Asian-European People’s Forum (AEPF).

Concurrently, we need to actively prepare for people-to-people events within the framework of ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.

Our second task is to organize the sixth Congress of VUFO, in which we will review our achievements and the lessons learnt in tenure 2013-2018, design 2019-2023 action roadmap. The Congress is expected to mark VUFO’s new chapter of development as well as be part of the preparation for VUFO’s 70th Anniversary in 2020.

Thirdly we need to improve our team’s capacities, innovating our working methods, with special attention paid to improving the professionalism of our staff.

Our fourth task is to implement the Directive 28 on Renovating and Upgrading the Effectiveness of VUFO’s Operation and the Conclusion 102 of the Poliburo on Public Organizations Affairs, proposing helpful measures to enhance the role of people-to-people diplomacy.

Hanoi Run for Children 2018, a people-to-people diplomacy event jointly held by the Canadian Embassy, the Vietnam-Canada Friendship Association and Hanoi Union of Friendship Organization. (photo: PY)

Could you explain about the relevant resources to implement people-to-people diplomacy?

We possess a lot of advantages and potentials in terms of people-to-people diplomacy.

First of all, in recent years, our country has attained outstanding achievements in socio-economic development, social stability maintenance. We have been moving forward unceasingly. This is a huge resource which builds the trust in the international community, inspire and create concensus for the  the entire society, thus enable the fluid implementation of people-to-people diplomacy.

Our strength also derives from Vietnam’s foreign policy and President Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts  on external affairs, which prioritizes peace, solidarity, cooperation and development. This is a burning aspiration of every people in the world, and completely in alignment with the interests of the nation and the people of Vietnam.

Implementing the foreign policy of peace, independence, self-determination,  diversification and multilateralization of international relations, we have expanded our relations with various countries across the globe, deepening and widening international integration.

These are crucial factors to ensure a peaceful, open, friendly environment to maintain the bond with our timeless close friends. 

More to mention, we have across-the-nation team of personnels dedicated topeople-to-people diplomacy, whose qualification and capabilities have been enhanced unceasingly. 

In your opinion, how has Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on external Diplomacy  been applied to contemporary context?

In the world today, even though cooperation and development remain the dominating trend, we still have to cope with numerous issues which are seriously threatening peace and development, such as fierce strategic competition among giant powers, unsolved hot spots in Middle East, Syria, complicated situation in East Sea; arms race, terrorism, unilateralism, increasing ultra-nationalism and its consequences; climate change, epidemics, natural disasters, etc. They are challenges facing every country.

Meanwhile, profound change in the world situation has been impacting people-to-people diplomacy affairs in different aspects. 

The rapidly change of alignment, led by interests, has been resulting in division in people’s movement; increasing protectionism led to further decline of resource for development.

In this context, it is significant to creatively apply Ho Chi Minh’s thoughtsexternal affairs based on Vietnamese traditition of harmony, humanity, and faithfulness. 

In more details, that means practicing an open foreign policy, bearing in mind the motto of “making more friends, fewer enemies”, avoiding confrontation, hatred, being friends with all countries, searching for the commonalities to gather forces, conquer and convince people on the basis of honesty/sincerity and ethics/morality.

With that mindset, we have been persistently protecting the nation and people’s interests, while respecting human race’s common interests, considering our partners’ interests, not pursuing the selfish mindset of sole national interest.

Since no country can solve the issues facing the world alone, we have to join hands together to overcome them.

What do you think about the internal strength of VUFO?

70 years since its establishment, VUFO has grown into a credible organization, with a growing structure, and increasingly competent personnels.

More to mention, VUFO has put huge effort in building a large network of international friends and partners, in and out of the countries. 

However, there are several challenges facing us, subjectively and objectively. While our work is highly demanding, our resource remains limited. The position of VUFO’s affiliated agencies has yet to match with the importance of VUFO. The attention, support in terms of regulations, policies, funding for people-to-people diplomacy officers, especially those in local level, despite certain improvement, still modest and not evenly benefit all.

The implementation of civil servants downsizing policy will also create pressure when the manpower of VUFO is not abundantly available and the level of professionalism remains modest

Nonetheless, I do hope that the difficulty we are facing will not hinder our progress, but instead will motivate us to come up with innovative solutions.  The demand of the situation and our mission will requires standing agencies of VUFO and other affiliated organizations to relentlessly innovate and work harder. 

Only through increasing working effectiveness will we be able to affirm our role, position and credibility. I believe, if we have the determination, solidarity and be able to promote the spirit of resilience, cooperation and mutual support, VUFO will continue to grow robustly in the future. 

Could you share with us some measures to improve the effectiveness of VUFO?

First of all, we need to review and amend our operation regulations and closely follow them; renovate management approach, working style, process to make VUFO become a truly effective, professional agency, meeting all the requirement of a standing agency in people-to-people diplomacy.

Second, to design cooperation mechanism with relevant agencies to ensure close coordination, effectiveness from the first stage of the decision, policy making process, creating favorable condition for VUFO and affiliated associations to work proactively, creatively, while at the same time, still closely adhere to regulations, closely follow the foreign policy and the development goal of the State.

Third, to strengthen the relations, cooperation among organizations in standing agencies, among central and local union of friendship organizations, between VUFO and departments, Ministries, sectors to accomplish our role in being the advisor for the Party, State and create favorable conditions for member associations to work and grow.

Forth, to enhance training and capacity building for staff of VUFO and member associations, providing them with requisite knowledges, expertise and skills in people-to-people diplomacy.

Last but not least, to reinforce the research work, especially on the impact of new developments in the international situation, measures to boost solidarity, people’s cooperation,  and  vision, long-term strategy for people-to-people diplomacy./.


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