U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group releases Agent Orange action plan

By Steven Chin

A blue ribbon panel has unveiled a comprehensive plan to address Agent Orange/dioxin contamination in Vietnam and exposure to the deadly chemical used by American forces during the Vietnam War.

The panel, which is chaired by Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, and Amb. Ngo Quang Xuan, called for the cleanup of chemicals, with the help of governments, businesses and foundations.
An estimated 4.5 million Vietnamese were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin. The best estimates are that 3 million Vietnamese suffered health effects, including at least 150,000 children suffering from birth defects and severe illnesses later in life. Some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange/dioxin and other herbicides were stored, mixed, handled and sprayed over a quarter of the former South Vietnam.
The report calls for a 10-year effort, with support from the U.S. government, other countries, foundations and non-government organizations, to join in a partnership to help clean up the "hot spots" of concentrated Agent Orange/dioxin, especially at former U.S. military air bases. The report would greatly expand humanitarian assistance to people with disabilities in Vietnam.
The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin was established in 2007 by “prominent private citizens, scientists and policy-makers.” It is coordinated by the Aspen Institute and supported by the Ford Foundation.
The report prioritizes clean-up of contaminated soils and damaged ecosystems, stopping further leaks from hot spots like DaNang airport where materials were stored, and expanding and improving services to Vietnamese people with disabilities and their families.
This year marks both the 35th anniversary of the end of the war and the 15th anniversary of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations.
Members from the United States:
Susan V. Berresford, Convener; former President, The Ford Foundation
Walter Isaacson, American Co-Chair; President & CEO, The Aspen Institute
Christine Todd Whitman, President, Whitman Strategy Group
William Mayer, President & CEO, Park Avenue Equity Partners
Mary Dolan-Hogrefe, Vice President and Senior Advisor, National Organization on Disability
Dr. Vaughan Turekian, Chief International Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Members from Vietnam:
Ambassdor Ngo Quang Xuan, Vietnamese Co-Chair; Vice Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, National Assembly
Professor Vo Quy, Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Studies, Vietnam National University
Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Chief, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medical University of Ho Chi Minh City
Do Hoang Long, Director, People to People Relations Department, Party External Relations Committee
Lt. General Phung Khac Dang, Vice President, Vietnam Veterans Association


US Vietnam Dialogue Group Declaration Plan 060710

About Steven Chin

Steven Chin is the web editor for the Vietnam Reporting Project and principal of MKmedia, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting firm that provides Web development, content and social media strategies to companies and nonprofit organizations.

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