In 2021, the U.S. Institute of Peace launched a multiyear project to foster greater dialogue both in and between the United States and Vietnam on war legacy issues and reconciliation. This project stems from the U.S. Congress’s landmark 2021 authorization for the U.S. government to assist Vietnam in identifying its missing personnel, following decades of Vietnamese cooperation to help the United States conduct the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel. This project will support this bilateral initiative while also engaging in the work that remains to address legacies of war — including the continuing impacts of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance — and to deepen reconciliation.

Since the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam in 1975, the U.S.-Vietnam relationship has traveled an extraordinary road, from enmity and war to an increasingly close strategic partnership, driven by shared interests and built on decades of work to build trust and to address the enduring impacts of the war.

Villagers in Tien Chau. (Paul Hosefros/The New York Times).
Villagers in Tien Chau. (Paul Hosefros/The New York Times)

Cooperation between the two governments — supported by efforts from civil society, including veterans organizations — has helped address the impacts of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance and helped both sides identify the remains of missing personnel. Meanwhile, people to people exchanges, ranging from veterans exchanges to major initiatives like U.S. support to establish Fulbright University Vietnam, have fostered connectivity and built trust between our societies. Yet nearly 50 years following the end of the war, more work is needed to address its legacies; to more deeply connect our two countries; and to use the story of U.S.-Vietnam relations as evidence that peace is possible and practical.

This project aims to further advance reconciliation through people-to-people engagement; to build and sustain U.S. support for addressing the war’s legacies in the coming decades; and to highlight lessons from the U.S.-Vietnam experience that could apply elsewhere in the world. This project will include public events, multimedia and publications and bilateral track 2 and 1.5 dialogues.

Featured Resources

Senator Patrick Leahy at the U.S. Institute of Peace on March 26, 2019.

Overcoming War Legacies

Event Webcast and Podcast

The road to reconciliation and future cooperation between the United States and Vietnam.

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