Building the Rule of Law in Viet Nam

05 Mar 2003

Ha Noi - Viet Nam has made remarkable progress in reforming its legal system over the last several years and now important work is underway to build a rule of law-based State to underpin the renovation process and improve the well-being of the people, said Mr. Jordan Ryan, Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

This statement was made at a meeting held today by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to review the achievement of an UNDP-supported project - Strengthening Legal Capacity in Viet Nam - which has helped develop the country’s legal system in the context of Viet Nam’s transition to a more market-oriented economy and international integration.

Mr. Ryan noted that legal reform is key to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Viet Nam’s ambitious development targets. Some of these targets include attaining the goal of doubling Viet Nam’s GDP in the coming decade, developing a healthy and competitive private sector, and building a clean, transparent and corruption-free public service that is truly responsive to the needs of the Vietnamese people.

According to Mr. Uong Chu Luu, Minister of Justice, the project was critically timed and played an important supportive role in the drafting and implementation of many of Viet Nam’s crucial laws including the Civil Code, the Commercial Law, the Banking Law, the Enterprise Law, the Competition Law and the legal framework for WTO accession.

UNDP and other donors have also, more recently, assisted the MoJ and other key legal agencies in the formulation of the Legal System Development Strategy, the Viet Nam's first ever Legal Reform Strategy. This new comprehensive strategy focuses on the legal framework, the process of law-making, institutions for law-making and implementing, legal education and professional training, and legal information dissemination.

The new strategy is based on the Legal System Development Needs Assessment (LNA) which was a model of working collaboration between the Government and donors. Directed by the Government of Viet Nam this initiative gained the active support of a wide range of donors, including UNDP, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, as well as Australia, Denmark, Canada, France, Japan, and Sweden.

This ambitious strategy is much needed to improve the current law-making agenda, which experts say is currently ad hoc and piecemeal. It marks Viet Nam’s progress in articulating its vision for enhancing and empowering the rule of law, and a State built on such foundations for the coming decade. Mr. Ryan noted statements of President Tran Duc Luong that "the Rule of Law is an essential element of a democratic state" and that “the mere management of society by law does not make a state become a rule of law State”.

According to the President, it is important to have a comprehensive, clear, and predictable legal framework, effective enforcement mechanisms, and capable judicial staff and awareness among people at the grass-roots levels to ensure the full functioning of such a state governed effectively and fairly by the rule of law.

Contact Information

Public Information Unit, Tel: 942 1495; fax: 942 2267