On February 13, the annual parliamentary hearing between the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations (UN) was organized at the UN headquarter in New York.
Member of the Politburo, Permanent Deputy Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong at the opening session of the hearing.
The theme of this year’s hearing is “A World of Blue: Preserving the Oceans, Safeguarding the Planet, Ensuring Human Well-being.”
Member of the Politburo, Permanent Deputy Chairwoman of Vietnam National Assembly (VNA), Mrs. Tong Thi Phong, led the Vietnam Delegation to the hearing.
In the discussion on maritime economic interests, Mrs. Tong stressed that blue economy is an emerging trend of the world’s economy, which opens multiple opportunities and broad space for many nations to develop.
However, the imbalance between ocean exploitation and marine environment protection, especially human destructive impacts on the status quo of sea environment, is leading to serious consequences. This affects sustainable development, particularly when the world is facing threats to peace and security regionally and globally.
Against this backdrop, she emphasized that peace and security is the prerequisites for sustainable development. In Southeast Asia, countries are making every effort to take responsible actions with the aim to respect international law, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), towards a Code of Conduct (COC) in order to resolve East Asia issue.
Vietnam is a coastal country which holds an important position in the international waterway, and also is vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise, said Mrs. Tong. Therefore, the country highly values sea-based economy development in line with marine environment protection.
Protecting marine resources and environment is the shared responsibility of many nations, especially developed ones with such financial resources and advanced scientific and technological level.
With the readiness for corporation, Vietnam is willing to join hands with the international community in an effort to protect the environment, ensure rational and effective exploitation of maritime economic benefits, and at the same time fulfill the responsibility of safeguarding national peace, security and sustainable development.
To ensure the harmonious and sustainable development between effective marine resources exploitation and environmental protection, the Deputy Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong offered a number of proposals.
First, it is essential that countries meet related obligations under the 1982 UNCLOS, ensuring marine security and safety, resolving disputes through peaceful measures which obey international law; as well as complying with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and regulations of fisheries cooperation mechanisms in the world whose members are coastal states.
The second recommendation is to strengthen trust building through enhancing 'transparency' in environmental information in waters beyond national jurisdiction rights and in disputed waters.
Third, it is suggested that the legal document system should be completed, and the efficiency of state administration of seas and islands should be strengthened.
Fourth, governments’ implementation of measures on tourism, fishing and mining under active supervision of parliaments are also needed so as to minimize the impacts of these industries on marine environment.
Fifth, it is important to enhance information provision to people, especially fishermen, for them to obey regulations on marine environment protection during fishing and aquaculture activities.
The sixth suggestion is to strengthen international cooperation and technical support so as to improve the competence to deal with climate change and assist coastal developing countries with the sustainable development of sea-based economies.
Lastly, Mrs. Tong encouraged the IPU and parliaments to conduct regular reviews on the realization of commitments and proposals adopted at this hearing and the upcoming Conference on seas and oceans in order to assess achievements and limitations to jointly come up with suitable solutions.
Within the framework of the visit to New York, the Deputy Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong attended a meeting with the IPU President Saber Chowdhury, and Secretary General Martin Chungong.
In this meeting, Mrs. Tong expressed her confidence in IPU’s actions in upholding its roles and position as the world’s largest inter-parliamentary cooperation organization, providing practical support to member parliaments in ensuring peace, democracy, cooperation and sustainable development. In recent years, the IPU and VNA have maintained close cooperation which brings successful outcomes, said Mrs. Tong
As a responsible member of the IPU for more than 35 years, the VNA has actively and responsibly participated in all IPU important meetings towards the organization’s common development, according to the Deputy Chairwoman.
The VNA is committed to work with the IPU and countries’ parliaments in prioritizing sustainable development, integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national socio-economic development programs, which corresponds to the spirit of “Turning Words into Actions” in Hanoi Declaration adopted by the 132nd IPU Assembly in 2015 in Vietnam.
Mrs. Tong extended her gratitude to the IPU President and members for electing Vietnam to the IPU Executive Committee in 2016-2019. The VNA regards its participation in IPU activities as the utmost responsibility out of those in multi-lateral parliamentary foreign affairs to promote and protect Vietnam’s interests, and express the country’s perspective on global shared concerns.
It also offers the VNA an opportunity to have access to practical contents and experience from countries’ parliaments to work towards the enhancement of the quality of its activities
The VNA is currently working with the IPU in preparing for the Symposium of the IPU Asia-Pacific on “The Implementation of SDGs on Climate change” in May, 2017, prior to the third session of the 14th National Assembly.
For his part, Mr. Chowdhury highly appreciated the roles of the VNA’s proposals during IPU activities and conferences, as well as the constructive and useful contributions Vietnam made in the hearing. He expressed his hope that the upcoming IPU symposium in Vietnam would help promote the integration of SDGs into national action programs.
In the earlier meeting with the Philippine Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Mrs. Tong reviewed positive outcomes in the Philippines-Vietnam relations in over the last 40 years, believing that the two countries would continue to practically develop bilateral ties, promote people-to-people exchange and enhance existing cooperation mechanisms.
Regarding the East Sea issue, both nations showed confidence in the continuing commitment to maintain and promote peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, as well as unhindered trade in the region; also called on all parties to exercise self-restraint, and to refrain themselves from the threat or use of force; fully respecting diplomatic and legal progress; resolving disputed through peaceful measures, under fundamental regulations of international law including the 1982 UNCLOS. The two sides reaffirmed their support for the full and effective implementation of the DOC, pushing for an early conclusion of the COC.
The Deputy Chairwoman also congratulated the Philippines in its position as the Chair of ASEAN and the 38th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 38) this year.
She expected that AIPA 38 in September, 2017 would be an important milestone, opening a new period for AIPA after 40 years of formation and development./.