First Legal Policy Dialogue in 2014: “Reviewing the draft Law on Civil Status from a human rights-based perspective”

19 Mar 2014

Ha Noi – “Reviewing the Draft Law on Civil Status from a Human Rights-Based Perspective” topped the agenda of 2014’s first Legal Policy Dialogue held today by the Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Deputy Minister of Justice Dr. Hoang The Lien, UNDP Country Director in Viet Nam Ms. Louise Chamberlain and UNWomen Country Representative Ms. Shoko Ishikawa co-chaired the Dialogue as part of the UNDP-supported “Strengthening Access to Justice and Protection of Rights in Viet Nam” project, with valuable input contributed by Mr. Nguyen Van Tien, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Social Affairs and Mr. Nguyen Kim Hong, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Legal Committee.

At the Dialogue, the Ministry of Justice provided an overview of the draft Law on Civil Status’  content and objectives from a human rights-based perspective as well as citizens’ input into helping develop the draft, while a National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs representative spotlighted a number of significant issues in the proposed legislation. Meanwhile, the United Nations and Vietnamese legal experts outlined key recommendations for the draft law in relation to international treaties Viet Nam is a party to.

"The link between civil status and ensuring the personal rights of individuals, in the context that [Vietnamese citizens’] human rights and civil rights have been enhanced in the newly promulgated Constitution 2013, means the assessment of the draft Law on Civil Status from a human rights-based perspective as spotlighted by this Dialogue was essential,” said Dr. Lien. He also underlined how the registration of individual personal milestones, such as registrations of birth, marriage, adoption, guardianship and civil status changes were directly related to citizens’ rights as they formed a legal basis for people to enjoy their rights and the State to protect such rights.

The UNDP Country Director in Viet Nam welcomed the draft law as it cut almost half of civil status registration administrative procedures which she hoped would allow citizens to enjoy better services. “But, the consistent integration of equality and non-discrimination principles throughout the law remains a key challenge, particularly in relation to marriage and de facto partnerships, the rights of children, migrant workers and other marginalized groups such as lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual persons,” said Ms. Chamberlain.

The draft Law on Civil Status was developed to create a stable legal basis for the unified and long-term registration and management of civil status in Viet Nam that promotes human rights and the rights of citizens.

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The basic contents of the draft law are as follows:

  1. The scope and substantive contents of civil registration: The draft Law on Civil Status’ provisions primarily centre on competence, order and procedures for the registration of civil status events, to determine the moral status of a person (such as birth, marriage, guardianship and parenthood).
  2. Second, individual identification number provisions: The draft law helps define an individual identification number as a natural number sequence to encode an individual’s basic information. The identification number issued to each individual is to meet requirements for reference information, the interests of the individual and State administration needs.
  3. Required renovation of civil registration methods: Individual identification numbers will open up opportunities for people to have the right to choose the optimal method to perform civil registrations. Individuals will only need to present the individual identification number when fulfilling administrative procedures, avoiding the need for paper documentation.
  4. District-level People's Committees will manage the entire registration of civil status having foreign elements (those currently under the competence of the provincial People's Committee and the Department of Justice). With this decentralization, the opportunity to maximize the capacity and responsibility of local government, creating a legal framework to strengthen the state management role of the central agencies and provincial-level People's Committee, the long-term goal is to maximize the decentralization of civil registration to local level authorities once conditions permit.
  5. Implement public administrative reform in the field of civil registration to minimize in personal documentation: Along with the development of an individual identification number for each citizen, the draft law also outlines the development of software applications in registration and management of civil status. It also has provisions on robust reforms of administrative procedures to simplify and reduce civil registration administrative procedures (from 46 to 25 procedures) to bring practical convenience and cost-saving benefits to people.

The Legal Policy Dialogue, an important platform to discuss key issues and emerging legal and judicial reform needs in Viet Nam, was today attended by representatives of the Party Central Committee, Steering Committee for Judicial Reform, Central Committee of Internal Affairs, Office of the National Assembly, Governmental Agencies, Viet Nam Bar Federation, Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association, Viet Nam Women’s Union, legal research institutes, People’s Courts and People’s Procuracies of several provinces.

More information?

Contact:

Department of International Relations, Ministry of Justice, Tel: (84-4) 62739531 or UNDP Office in Ha Noi, Tel: (84-4) 38224383 x121