VIETNAM'S ATTACK DEFEATED AT ECOSOC


On Friday 23 July, after a 2-year process, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted on a recommendation to sanction the Transnational Radical Party. The recommendation was rejected by a vote of 22 against in 20 favor, 11 abstentions and one absent.

Before the vote, the Council held a debate. The tone of the discussion was set by a statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who, on behalf of the European Union, addressed one by one the Vietnamese accusations rejecting them procedurally and in their substance. Others speakers were Sierra Leone, who supported the TRP, Vietnam, which reaffirmed all the allegations produced over the last two years. Italy, in a strong statement delivered by Ambassador Spatafora emphasized how the TRP had not only respected all the relevant UN rules, but also that suspending the TRP would have gone against the spirit of the UN Charter. Cuba, China, Russia, Benin, Indonesia and the United States also participated in the debate.

On Monday 19, TRP President and Treasurer, Sergio Stanzani and Danilo Quinto, and former lista Bonino MEP Marco Cappato, held a press conference with dozens of Italian Parliamentarians that had signed an appeal to support the TRP at the UN. Communication Minister Maurizio Grasparri also addressed the event. On that same day, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini issued a statement on the role of Italy throughout the entire process.

The vote at the ECOSOC ends a procedure that was triggered by Vietnam in 2002, a process that engaged the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations and the TRP and that saw additional accusations presented by Vietnam in 2003 and that triggered four written responses by the TRP. On 21 May 2004, the Committee took a vote on a recommendation to suspend the consultative status of the TRP for three years. Vietnam's request was formally introduced by China and supported by nine delegations: China, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Russian Federation, India, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Eight voted against: Cameroon, Chile, France, Germany, Peru, Romania, United States and Turkey. Colombia and Senegal abstained.

The latest days before the vote, had been characterized by additional Vietnamese accusations. In fact, On July 1, and 15, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UN sent two letters and several attachments to all the members of the UN Economic and Social Council presenting new allegations against the TRP and Kok Ksor and announcing that, whatever the outcome of the ECOSOC deliberations, Vietnam would continue its campaign to exclude Mr. Ksor from the UN system. The Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands sent a 3-page letter to ECOSOC members countering one by one all the “new” Vietnamese accusations, requesting the Council to distribute the final response submitted by the TRP to the Committee as an official document.

Vietnam's move came after the Committee, at the request of China, had voted not to allocate more time to the debate, as requested by Germany. In 2000, when a similar complaint against the TRP was brought to the attention of the ECOSOC, the Council decided to re-open a decision adopted by the Committee by a vote, in a scenario that resembled the one before the UN in 2004, but where the number of countries that voted in favor of the recommendation for a sanction was in fact larger.

On July 14th the TRP had launched an appeal to seek the support of individuals and organizations before the vote. Over 4000 people have signed the petition on-line, while the Australian Vietnam Human Rights Committee, Society for threatened peoples international, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Democracy Coalition Project, Council for a Community of Democracies, UN Watch, Amnesty International and the World Federalist Movement sent letters to ECOSOC members urging them to vote against the recommendation to suspend the TRP for three years.