Since joining ASEAN in 1997, Vietnam has played an important role in regional diplomacy and development. Vietnam’s foreign policy aims to act as a “reliable friend and partner of all countries in the international community”. Vietnam has established strategic partnerships with Japan, China, India, Russia and other countries. The United States and Vietnam agreed in 2013 to a “comprehensive partnership” that is strategic in all but name, including cooperation on economic, security, education, cultural and social issues. legacy of war. Vietnam’s policy of multiple partnerships has remained intact despite maritime security concerns in the East Sea (South China Sea) and disputes over the management of the Mekong River.
Politically, Vietnam is a one-party state ruled by the Communist Party. The People’s Army of Vietnam has a significant influence on the political system. Freedom of expression, opinion and speech is guaranteed by the constitution but not implemented in practice. Vietnam’s vibrant civil society and social media face growing restrictions affecting both informal actors (such as bloggers) and legally registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Human rights remain a contentious issue in US-Vietnam relations; however, President Obama and President Trump have assured Vietnamese leaders in the past that the United States respects Vietnam’s different political system.
The Vietnamese government has won international recognition for its strict handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in its early stages. Although subsequent waves were more difficult to control, Vietnam’s economy continued to grow at the fastest pace in Southeast Asia. Future challenges for the country include pursuing economic liberalization and societal openness while maintaining stability and a relatively low level of inequality.
USIP Legacy of War and Reconciliation Initiative
The US Institute of Peace engages in research and dialogue examining the extraordinary arc of US-Vietnam relations. In August 2021, USIP launched a multi-year project to foster public education as well as government-to-government and people-to-people dialogue between Vietnamese and Americans. Addressing the legacies of war, including Agent Orange, unexploded bombs (UXO) and the recovery of remnants of war, is an essential component of the broader work of building a strong bilateral partnership.
The USIP initiative stems from the historic authorization by Congress in 2021 for the US government to help Vietnam identify its war dead, following decades of Vietnamese cooperation to help the US conduct the count as comprehensive as possible of American personnel. The USIP project aims to advance reconciliation, maintain U.S. support for dealing with the legacies of war, and highlight lessons from the U.S.-Vietnam experience that could apply elsewhere in the world. world.
Events and Public Education
USIP is hosting virtual and in-person seminars with prominent speakers from the United States and Vietnam. Our experts also join events with partners across the United States to raise awareness of the journey to reconciliation and the continued importance of addressing the legacies of war.
USIP convenes governmental and nongovernmental leaders in Track 1.5 and Track 2 dialogues on war legacies and the U.S.-Vietnam partnership. The dialogues focus on specific issues or topics, such as remediation of Agent Orange or exchanging veterans. Additional dialogues are planned for students and young professionals from both countries, including Vietnamese Americans.
Media and publications
USIP supports video, social media, blogs, and news stories on topics related to war legacies and bilateral cooperation, enabling Americans and Vietnamese to speak with their own voices about their experiences of reconciliation. The publications advance USIP’s values of ending conflict and rethinking American engagement in Asia.