There was a touch of drama to the day (21 September) when the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was admitted as one of the United Nations' newest members.
There was a touch of drama to the day (21 September) when the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was admitted as one of the United Nations' newest members. It was Vietnam's neighbour, Democratic Kampuchei (formerly called Cambodia) which gave U.N. officials a constitutional headache as the general assembly prepared to open its 32nd annual session. Democratic Kampuchei had steadfastly refused to pay any of the 200,000 U.S. dollars which the U.N. claims it owed in membership fees. After two hours wrangling there was still no settlement in sight although Democratic Kampuchei kept insisting on retaining its voting rights at the assembly. To get round the embarrassment, it was decided there would be no voting. So instead of being formally elected, Vietnam had to be acclaimed as a member.
SYNOPSIS: At the traditional flag raising ceremony for new members outside the U.N. building in New York, U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, speaking in French, first welcomed the other country to be admitted, the newly independent Djibouti which used to be a French protectorate.
Djibouti also began its United Nations membership by being acclaimed instead of voted in.
Then it was the turn of the unified Vietnam which was represented by its Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Nyugen Duy Trinh.
Dr Waldheim said he had pleasure in ordering the raising of the Vietnamese flag, a single gold star on a red background. But then where was a second hitch for the U.N.'s new member when the flag at first refused to unfurl. But these were minor problems compared with the obstacles Vietnam had to surmount to become a member.
The road to the U.N. had seen a hard one for Vietnam. Since the collapse of the Saigon government in 1975, Vietnam had applied several times to become a member of the General Assembly.
But each time the United States stepped in with its powers of veto to prevent the country from joining the assembly. It was only on the orders of President Carter that this bar was lifted. In his first address to the assembly, Vietnam's deputy prime minister said that Vietnam could have become a member way back in 1945 if it had not been for the intervention of imperial forces in Vietnam. Vietnam becomes the United Nations' 149th member.