Advantages: Though the struggle for justice of Vietnamese AO victims hasn’t been successful in legal aspect, it has had a profound effect as providing a premise for the struggle for justice. It has awakened the mass to the cause of AO victims’ suffering, and generated an increasing support and sympathy for the victims. The State has made adjustments, supplements and been perfecting its policies, mechanism for war participants as well as AO victims. The role and structure of Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange have been enhanced and its operations have been improved ever since.
The lawsuit of Vietnamese AO victims has unveiled to the world the crime that the US has tried to hide in the past several decades. The US is responsible for overcoming war legacies in Vietnam as ruled in the Article 21 of the Paris Peace Accord in 1973 but they have always ignored dialogue and their liability. The lawsuit has contributed to putting pressure on the governments of US’ allies in Vietnam War in considering compensation for war veterans and AO victims in their countries. In addition, it has also created a legal precedent for AO victims in countries outside Vietnam to make complaint for compensation.
The lawsuit’s goals match those of the human’s struggle at modern time which is the struggle for protecting human rights, environment and the ecosystem on the global scale which has earned support from people and politicians worldwide. This has strongly support for Vietnamese AO victims in their struggle for justice.
For political, legal, social and economic reasons, the US government and companies didn’t dare to admit their liabilities openly. However, in reality, they have had positive moves regarding the matter. Notably, they have agreed to joint hand in detoxification efforts in the hotspots of Da Nang and Bien Hoa airbases.
In the condition of increasingly deep and wide international integration, multilateral and bilateral relations, including Vietnam-US relations, have seen new developments, the struggle for justice of VAVA also sees new orientations and tasks with the guideline of “Continue to mobilize and struggle in compliance with the Party and State’s external lines in settling the consequences of AO/dioxin sprayed by the US in Vietnam War” (Directive No. 43-CT/TW dated 14th may 2015 of the Secretariat on Strengthening the Party’s leadership on overcoming the consequences of toxic chemical sprayed by the US in Vietnam War).
With this spirit, VAVA will coordinate closely with related ministries and sectors to further promote its external activities and continue its struggle for justice for AO victims in accordance with external lines of the State in the new situation.
In the coming time, the struggle will face a number of difficulties, namely:
- The lawsuit must rely on the help and direct involvement of the US lawyers through a cooperation agreement. The lack of understanding of American laws and language will be a major challenge for Vietnamese AO victims.
US lawyers, for different reasons, including the safety of them and their families, have refused to help VAVA in filing the lawsuit. This is the decisive factor that VAVA has yet to overcome.
The case requires scientific proofs and experiments which are costly and beyond the plaintiff’s budget. It has been prolonged, hence increasing its fees. The number of witnesses is decreasing because of their death and disease.
- Many US companies which involved in the production and supply of AO for US military using in Vietnam War have dissolved or merged with other ones, hence it is very difficult to define the defendant as well as responsibility for compensation.
The relations between the two countries have been improved comprehensively which is useful for the development of both sides, especially Vietnam’s international integration. However, this will have a bad effect on the struggle for justice of the victims. There should be adjustments in the methods of struggle to suit the reality.
Amid the present international relations and the international integration of Vietnam, the struggle for justice of Vietnamese AO victims in the coming time should have adjustments to suit the external lines of the Party and State towards the following directions:
- Countering the US plot to undermine and disorientate the struggle; keeping steadfast in the struggle for compensation for the victims.
- Considering the struggle as the central and enduring task of VAVA which is conducted in a persistent and careful manner with flexible operation and direction suitable with each period.
- Preparing for the second lawsuit; looking for appropriate partner for filing the case when time is ripe. Defendants of this case will be some major chemical companies of the US which produced and supplied the toxic chemical for the US military using in Vietnam War.
- Diversifying the methods of struggle. Employ both legal struggle and moral struggle by both State diplomacy and people diplomacy. Strengthen mobilisation and dialogue with the US Government, Congress, and politicians about the consequences of AO sprayed by the US military in Vietnam War so that they would be more responsible for remedying the legacies.
- Mobilising the US members of Congress, political activists, diplomats, scientists to earn their support for the struggle by proposing to the US Congress bills on supporting Vietnamese AO victims. Promoting people’s diplomacy to mobilise the support of organizations and individuals with good will for the struggle.
- Actively supporting and assisting the case of Ms. Tran To Nga and other cases relating to Agent Orange.
- Finding ways to sue some US chemical companies which are operating in Vietnam, such as Monsanto, Dow Chemical to Vietnam court and by Vietnam’s laws.
- Strengthening mobilisation and propagation, especially to international communities to raise their awareness of and earn their support for the struggle.
The struggle for justice of Vietnamese AO victims may take a long way to reach the goal. However, VAVA will be persistent with the goals of the struggle until the US chemical companies admit their liabilities and accept to compensate for victims of Agent Orange and together with Vietnam’s Government to conduct detoxification in contaminated areas.
Senior Colonel Quach Thanh Vinh, Deputy Head of VAVA’s External Affairs Office