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Friday, 20 January 2017 15:49
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Non-traditional security and the role of the media in Vietnam

(LLCT) - The phrase “non-traditional security” was first mentioned in the 1980s and was commonly used in the early 21st century. It has become one of the most popular terms used in regional and international conferences and bilateral and multilateral cooperation forums.

The 6th ASEAN - China Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 1, 2002 announced the “Joint declaration of ASEAN and China on cooperation in the field of non-traditional security”, which defined non-traditional security issues as transnational crime, terrorism, drug trafficking, women and children trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, international economic crime, and cybercrimes, which threaten regional and world security and pose new challenges to peace and stability within and outside of the region.

In recent years, non-traditional security threats such as international terrorism, transnational crime, natural calamities, epidemics and environmental disasters have caused serious damage to the socio-economic development and national security of many countries in the region and the world. These issues have transcended national security interests and have become global challenges because transnational crime and international terrorism, particularly attacks using biological or chemical weapons, and epidemics are “borderless”. Therefore, to combat these issues require joint efforts by the international community and comprehensive solutions in economic, political, diplomatic, legal, scientific and technological terms. The media plays an important role in communication, awareness raising, supervision, social challenge, control of corruption and negative practices, and resistance to the impact of non-traditional security on national security.

Non-traditional security is a conception of security in the context of globalization and international integration. Factors threatening national security do not only come from ideological conflict or military confrontation but also from other global issues. Non-traditional security places the security of each nation in close connection with regional and global security.

Non-traditional security issues are divided into five groups as follows:

Firstly, issues related to sustainable development, including environmental protection, development of global resources and ecology and prevention and control of epidemics;

Secondly, threats to regional and international stability, including economic security, social security, human rights, and refugees;

Thirdly, transnational organized crimes, including trafficking in people and drugs;

Fourthly, non-state organizations which challenge international order, and the threat of international terrorism; and

Fifthly, cyber security, information security and genetic engineering security.

1. Non-traditional security challenges and threats in Vietnam

Non-traditional security challenges and threats in Vietnam find expression in three main dangers as follows:

Firstly, they undermine the country’s national defense capabilities. They make people disorientated, lessen their willpower and determination and their trust in the regime. At the same time, they can increase social controversy, especially between different walks of life. They hinder or even sabotage the development of the economy and cause difficulty in combining economics and national defense and in expanding international economic cooperation. They reduce considerably the ability of the economy to save and mobilize physical resources for national defense missions as well as investment in national defense in general and modernization of the military in particular.

In addition, climate change caused by greenhouse gases emissions, industrial waste, mining, river damming, forest fire, forest destruction, radioactivity leakage, oil spills, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and volcanic eruptions have exerted direct, strong influences on all aspects of society, and have even costs the lives of millions of people. They have caused serious consequences for many years ahead and have cost a lot of money. The impact of climate change has led to drought and salt water penetration in the Mekong River Delta, causing serious difficulties for local people’s lives. Flood and drought have occurred across the country. Waste from Formosa plants have not only caused economic consequences but have also affected Vietnam political security. All these issues have reduced considerably the country’s national defense capabilities and cannot be overlooked.

Secondly, non-traditional security challenges and threats lead to national instability. As a matter of fact, national instability is caused by different reasons. The impact of non-traditional security is one of the important, unpredictable reasons. Non-traditional security can cause national instability in various areas including politics, economics, culture and society, defense and security and international relations, among others. Climate change, epidemics, racial and religious conflicts, terrorism, and drugs crime will have a direct effect on the economy, hinder economic development and increase hunger and poverty. From there, they will change the social structure, intensify domestic controversy, create public disagreement with, or public resistance against, the government, and results in serious social crises. In the current situation, lack of information security can disrupt national cyberspace, leading to the collapse of the entire national control system. It can distort information or truths, cause internal division and undermine people’s trust in the Party and State. Hostile forces can therefore intensify their “peaceful evolution” strategies, induce “self-evolution” and “self-transformation”, incite disruption, demonstrations and riots, cause political instability, thereby creating an excuse for external intervention.

Thirdly, non-traditional security challenges and threats give rise to dangers of conflict and warfare. In general terms, these dangers take shape because of different reasons, subjective and objective, internal and external. One of the reasons comes from the impact of non-traditional security, particularly terrorism, transnational crime, drugs trafficking, racial and ethnic conflict and natural resource exploitation. Therefore, to many countries, the prevention of dangers of conflict and warfare are, by nature, the prevention and handling of non-traditional security challenges, and this is considered one of the central objectives of any country’s national defense and security. In the case of Vietnam, dangers of conflict and warfare caused by the impact of non-traditional security may be unlikely, but the country must anticipate them so it can introduce preventive measures. At present, cybercrimes, trafficking in drugs, women and children, and trade- and investment-related crimes are still complicated and are among factors leading to instability, especially along the borders, and damaging Vietnam’s relations with its neighboring countries. This shows that the danger of non-traditional security affecting Vietnam’s national defense does not only originate from domestic issues but also from regional and international ones.

2. The role of the media in the resolution of non-traditional security issues

The global computer network with access to information control has become national security space equivalent to continental, marine, outer space and universe rights. Each country is therefore building its own strategies for protecting its national security, especially ensuring the information safety of the mass media on the Internet. Besides, it is inevitable that countries will compete extremely fiercely for information interests centered around information sovereignty, information technology, information resources, and information rules, so they carry out their political, economic and national defense objectives.

Thus, the media needs to proactively promote its role and strength.

As providers of information, the media has covered all areas of life including newly emerging issues such as non-traditional security. Given the increasingly profound and extensive globalization and international integration, information warfare has become a challenge to countries as people are receiving a myriad of information from the mass media and social networking sites every hour or even every minute. Therefore, the media needs to provide timely, diverse, multidimensional information and ensure its opinion guiding character so that the public have a clear understanding of the nature, characteristics and impact of non-traditional security on national development. Information provided by the media needs to follow the principle of respecting truths, be shared for the creation of trust, and create a healthy environment for information sharing where the public and audiences can have full access to information.

As communicators, it is the task of the media to communicate and explain points of view, guidelines and policies of the Party and State, which aim to respond to, or solve, non-traditional security issues. During its communication of non-traditional security, the media needs to create social awareness of economic, food, health, environmental, people, community and political issues related to the sustainable development of the nation and humankind. As a matter of fact, all individuals and organizations, regardless of their forms of ownership and organization, are affected by non-traditional security issues. They are the ones who need to be protected and who need to participate in the prevention, control and overcoming of these issues.

As facilitators of a clean, healthy, public, transparent environment for the prevention and control of corruption and negative practices, the media has been very well aware of its responsibility for the prevention and control of corruption. It has been particularly active and proactive in the communication and dissemination of the Party’s and State’s guidelines, policies and laws on the prevention and control of corruption and negative practices. In addition, the media has actively participated in challenging the Party’s and State’s guidelines and policies on the prevention and control of corruption and wastefulness.

In fact, from preliminary information provided by ordinary people and with their abilities and skills and with the technological assistance  (such as audio and video recording devices), journalists and press agencies have discovered a number of corruption cases. Their investigative articles have exposed the true faces of quite a few corrupt individuals and groups.

These articles have not only met public demands for information but have also created public opinion as to the combat against such illegal acts and have encouraged authorities to engage in further investigation.

As mediators of economic and social crises, the media plays an essential role in communicating such crises. This is because when an economic or social or environmental crisis occurs, if the media knows how to guide public opinion properly, it will minimize people’s panic in face of such crisis.

As supervisors and challengers, the media aims to confirm positive aspects and points out limitations and weaknesses when it comes to the resolution of non-traditional security issues. The media also suggests solutions for increasing the effectiveness of policy decisions aimed at solving such issues.

While performing its roles as supervisors and challengers, the media needs to be proactive, attach importance to the results of its independent investigations facilitated by people and is held accountable to the law and public opinion for such results. Once the media successfully fulfill these roles, it will contribute to ensuring that public policies serve the interests of the society and nation and prevent group interests.

Dr. Pham Thi Thanh Tinh

Academy of Journalism and Communication

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