Peacekeeping Partnership Opens New Possibilities for U.S.-Vietnam Relations

Posted by David J. Wilson
September 3, 2013
A Vietnamese Security Guard Stands With Backdrop of American and Vietnamese Flags

In conflicts and post-conflict zones all over the globe, UN peacekeepers play an essential role supporting peace and stability.  Supporting these efforts is the United States’ Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).  Vietnam has been working closely with both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense to begin building its peacekeeping capabilities, and through GPOI, take its first formal steps towards contributing individuals and units to UN peacekeeping missions.  

GPOI works to build the peacekeeping capacity of countries currently contributing or preparing to contribute personnel to global peacekeeping operations. Created in 2005, GPOI is a security-assistance program that enhances international capability to effectively conduct UN and regional peace operations.  GPOI trains military and police units from among its 65 partner nations to partner with regional organizations to serve in peacekeeping missions, supplies peacekeeping forces with essential non-lethal equipment, and constructs or refurbishes peacekeeping training facilities.  Working in partnership with the Department of Defense, GPOI has directly trained 175,794 peacekeepers to date and enabled the training of an additional 52,611 peacekeeping personnel through the work of its program graduates.  GPOI is currently working to build on this progress by “training the trainers,” creating sustainable capabilities in partner nations that can self-sufficiently train their peacekeepers to meet the growing global demand for well-trained peacekeeping personnel.

Vietnam is one of GPOI’s 65 partner countries, working to train peacekeeping personnel and deploy their peacekeepers to UN missions.  The capacity building program in Vietnam was launched in 2005 as the U.S. contribution to the G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations. Vietnam will now join a host of partner countries who have sustainably grown their peacekeeping programs to fully participate in UN peacekeeping missions.  As a GPOI partner country developing its peacekeeping capabilities, Vietnam has observed peacekeeping training events in the region hosted by other GPOI partner countries as well as participated in visits to UN missions.  High-level officials from Vietnam have visited the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO), United Nations Peacekeeping Department of Field Support (UNDFS), as well as conducted a mission trip to the United Nations Missions in the Sudan (UNMIS).  These trips gave Vietnamese officials greater understanding about the UN peacekeeping philosophy and allowed them to witness firsthand how UN missions work and encourage support for the program. 

The partnership between GPOI and Vietnam was highlighted in the Joint Statement between President Obama and President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam on July 25.  President Obama welcomed Vietnam’s decision to participate in UN peacekeeping missions around the world, and emphasized our desire to assist Vietnam through GPOI with support for their peacekeeping efforts.  Additionally, Secretary of State Kerry, made remarks alongside President Sang on July 24 stating, “As Vietnam has transformed itself, the country is now placing an increasingly significant role on regional and on global issues.  We welcome Vietnam’s announcement that it intends to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in 2014 and we are now joined together helping them to prepare for their initial deployments.”

Collaboration at the highest levels of U.S. and Vietnamese governments demonstrate a strengthened relationship and joint dedication to furthering peacekeeping in the region and around the world.

For more information on GPOI, please visit the program’s website.

About the Author: Major David J. Wilson, USAF, is a Defense Fellow currently serving in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/CPA).

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