In-depth

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© United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

UNDP Viet Nam’s governance work focuses on three main pillars: human rights, rule of law and access to justice, along with parliamentary development and public administration reform. Our interventions in governance are made through nationally-executed projects and the work of in-house governance policy advisors. The clear identification of UNDP as a provider of policy advice is particularly important in a middle-income country context, with traditional large-scale capacity development projects to become less relevant and affordable. The positioning of UNDP Viet Nam in the area of governance integrates policy advice as a specific typology of services made available to national partners on governance issues. In particular, this work encompasses access to justice and the rule of law, anti-corruption, civil society participation in public-political life, human rights, parliamentary development, public administration reform and women’s representation in legislative and executive bodies.

Viet Nam is continuing efforts to move towards a law-governed State, reflected in the Judicial Reform Strategy to 2020. However, the overall judicial reform process has been slow and lags behind legislative changes and the simplification of public administrative procedures. UNDP’s work in the justice sector focuses on strengthening the independence of the judicial adjudication process through comparative analysis and sharing of international best practice. UNDP also supports civil society actors to help vulnerable groups settle claims stemming from civil, environmental, labour and land disputes, amongst others. In the area of human rights, UNDP facilitates the Government’s follow-up on the Universal Periodic Review with high-level policy dialogues between State and non-State actors on it, the rights of people with disabilities, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights and women’s land rights.

The right to participate in public and political life has been broadened since 2011 through the promulgation of several legal documents, such as the Ordinance on Grassroots, the new Law on Complaints, Law on Denunciation and Law on Anti-Corruption. The National Assembly-led amendments to the 1992 Constitution and the Land Law, ongoing during 2013, were good examples of public concerns integrated into the law-making process. However, challenges remain in relation to freedom of expression, association, access to information and peaceful assembly. UNDP has pledged to support ongoing efforts to simplify the regulatory framework for civil society actors to participate in public and political life and also facilitates their participation in policy dialogues with State institutions on sensitive social issues such as administrative detention, land and women’s rights.

During the past decade, public administration reforms have dramatically improved accessibility to social and other administrative services across the country, along with their responsiveness to local public needs improved with UNDP support. Despite these steps forward, challenges remain regarding the efficiency of public administrative services and their accessibility in remote areas along with the quality of public sector staff. UNDP Viet Nam stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Government efforts to improve the quality of public administrative services through introduction of e-services at local one-stop shops and human resource reforms to improve the leadership style, quality and ethical behavior of public servants. As part of its public administration reform portfolio, UNDP also works with several leading training institutions to enhance Government leaders’ awareness of gender issues and backs more female leaders to enter Government institutions and the National Assembly. Our policy advisory services offer independent analysis and monitoring of public administration performance from citizens’ points of view, which translates into more evidence-based policy-making based on users’ feedback. In the area of anti-corruption, UNDP provides independent and insightful analysis on corruption in Viet Nam and helps the Government implement its commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption, which Viet Nam ratified in 2009.

The National Assembly has become increasingly more vocal in holding the Government to account on key development projects and has started to reach out to more citizens during the law-making process, mainly through parliamentary committee channels, with civil society more frequently engaging legislators. However, capacity challenges remain due to the high turnover of members of Parliament after each election and the low-quality output of staff supporting National Assembly deputies. UNDP supports the National Assembly to conduct public consultations with citizens on key laws, including the Constitution amendment process and provides expertise to the ongoing revision of key laws pertaining to the institutional functioning and set up of the National Assembly. At provincial levels, we support half of the country’s Provincial People’s Councils to improve their budget oversight capacity to facilitate the ongoing transfer of budget oversight responsibilities from the central to provincial levels.

These challenges illustrate how Viet Nam today requires best practice, high-quality policy advice on how to respond and prosper during this new phase of development.

UNDP is well positioned to continue meeting these governance needs and having a positive influence on a broad spectrum of policy outcomes with Government based on mutual trust and respect.

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