Q&A on Viet Nam's implementation of Human Rights

with UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen

December 9, 2021

(xem bản dịch tiếng Việt tại đây)

1.     Could you please share your assessment on Viet Nam’s implementation of human rights in the 2016-2021 period, especially in the pandemic context?

At the outset, UNDP would like to commend the government of Viet Nam for their active engagement in a very wide range of human rights mechanisms over the period 2016-2020, from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to the reviews under the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as well as the Conventions against Torture (CAT), on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

I would focus on the period since the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Viet Nam, in 2019. UNDP and MOFA have just held a consultation on the second draft of Viet Nam’s first ever voluntary Mid-Term Report on its implementation of the recommendations received in the UPR in 2019. Mid-term reporting offers the opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made, for example in economic and social rights, as well as on the areas where greater efforts need to be made, including access to justice and inclusive participation.

The UN welcomes the efforts of the Government to undertake a comprehensive review and track implementation of UPR commitments. The Mid-Term report acknowledges the need to develop methods to better measure implementation through the development of appropriate indicators, which in turn involves gathering data and evidence to demonstrate progress. We encourage Viet Nam to identify priorities for UPR implementation between now and the 4th cycle review.

However, the report is not an end in itself but part of a process to help advance the progressive realization of rights though the implementation of the UPR recommendations, and all international human rights obligations including those embedded in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNDP welcomes the draft Mid-Term report and the opportunity to contribute to its strengthening. Despite COVID-19 and other challenges, great progress has been made since the 3rd cycle of the UPR, in areas such as poverty reduction, health insurance coverage and literacy rates.

While Viet Nam achieved good progress in implementing recommendations related to economic, social, and cultural rights, important gaps remain. Viet Nam does not yet have an independent national human rights institution – one of the global indicators of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on Governance and Justice, and as recommended during the 3rd cycle of the UPR. In addition, UN human rights mechanisms have c raised concerns with regards to the limitation of certain civil and political rights, including freedoms of opinion and association.

2.     Viet Nam was a member of the UN Human Rights Council in the 2014-2016 term and is now running for the 2023-2025 term. What is your assessment of Viet Nam’s participation in the UN's human rights mechanisms? What is the prospect of is membership in the coming time?

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

We congratulate the government of Viet Nam for its nomination as ASEAN candidate for the UN Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 term. Serving as a member of the UN Human Rights Council is a great opportunity, but it also comes with great responsibilities, as UNHR Council members are   expected to demonstrate the highest standards of respect for human rights, both domestically and internationally.

This first voluntary UPR Mid-Term Report is an example of the kind of commitment needed to demonstrate why Viet Nam should be voted into the Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly. Becoming a member of the Council is an opportunity to be a leader in different areas, including by advocating for human rights-based approaches to combatting climate change and addressing issues related to women, peace, and security. It also comes with responsibilities to move beyond reporting on human rights instruments to showing evidence of implementation of recommendations received. Finally, Viet Nam will be expected to sit among its peers and respond to human rights issues as they arise around the world, cooperate fully with the Council’s mechanisms, and offer technical assistance and guidance, representing the ASEAN experience and the successes and challenges it has faced in its ongoing journey towards sustainable, inclusive development.

3.     How will the UN in general and UNDP in particular support Viet Nam in achieving the SDGs by 2030, with people being the center, the subject, and the goal of development?

UNDP is proud to be a long-standing, trusted partner of the Government of Viet Nam and of MOFA in this significant and meaningful UPR process, and beyond. We recently agreed with Government on the key parameters for our next 5-year Country Program and are motivated by its ambition.

UNDP provides technical assistance to the Government in its reporting to and implementation of different human rights instruments, including under five of the seven core UN human rights treaties – namely the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – as well as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In all these processes and policymaking, UNDP also works to ensure the participation of civil society and affected communities. This includes human rights training for youth and students. Civil society, youth and affected communities are all vital stakeholders who bring expertise and experiences that help to ensure the effectiveness of legal and policy frameworks are translated into impact on the ground so that no person or community is left behind in the development process. Last week we celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and UNDP is committed to supporting the motto of the community of persons with disabilities: nothing about us, without us.

At the core and heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is the principle of Leaving No One Behind.  UNDP is committed to deepening its partnership with the Government of Viet Nam for realizing its ambitions by 2030 for a sustainable, just, and people-centered future for all Vietnamese.