Speech at launching of access to justice project with the Ministry of Justice

Nov 27, 2009

Speaker: Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:       27 November 2009
Event:     Launch of access to justice project with the Ministry of Justice

Honourable Minister Ha Hung Cuong;
Honourable Vice-Minister Hoang The Lien;
Distinguished representatives from the Judicial Reform Steering Committee, Ministry of Justice and the donor community;
In 1992, the same year that Viet Nam made its commitment to build a rule-of-law state, UNDP placed a foreign legal advisor with the Ministry of Justice in its headquarters, which were then in Cat Linh street here in Ha Noi. In later years UNDP’s support was extended to all of the justice sector agencies, but through all that time our partnership with the Ministry of Justice remained strong and constant. So I am delighted today to be able to launch this project which marks yet another step forward in our cooperation.

In the years since 1992, Viet Nam’s legal and judicial systems have undergone a remarkable transformation, but the decade to come will present even greater challenges. Sustaining progress in social and economic development in the transition to middle-income status will require deepening the rule-of-law in Viet Nam and a more transparent legal system. If the poor and disadvantaged are not to fall further behind, their rights must be more effectively protected through better access to justice. These reforms will require close and effective partnership between political, executive and judicial bodies and central and local levels. And of course, greater aid effectiveness will ensure that donor support is better aligned to these key priorities.  

The project which Minister Ha Hung Cuong and I are launching today focuses on these key policy priorities as Viet Nam steps up legal and judicial reform to address the challenges ahead. The project is also fully aligned with the One Plan, and will be supported by donors through One Plan Fund 2, to which eight donors have contributed.

Let me highlight just some of the key areas which the new project will support:

  • A review of the first five years’ of implementing the Legal Systems Development Strategy, so as to define the priority needs for Viet Nam’s legal system in the decade to come;
  • Greater aid effectiveness, strengthening the Government’s aid coordination in the legal and judicial sector and deepening the existing policy dialogue through the Legal Partnership Forum;
  • A new vision for the state’s role in the justice sector, that takes account of Viet Nam’s evolving socio-economic context, the progress towards a rule-of-law state and greater international integration;
  • A new Provincial Justice Index to assess access to justice at local levels, which can both illuminate success stories and good pratices which can be adopted elsewhere, and demonstrate where further support and capacity-building are most needed;
  • A strategy on legal empowerment of the poor, so that legal reforms play their part in poverty reduction strategies and strengthen access to justice for the poor and disadvantaged;
  • Better implementation of Viet Nam’s international human rights commitments though domestic law, and better monitoring of the implementation of laws;
  • Comparative research on the main tasks of judicial reform, including reorganisation of the court system and other justice bodies, the reform of judicial appointments and training, and independence of adjudication in trials, and finally
  • Support to local and national initiatives and experiments in judicial reform.

As I have said, close partnership and institutional cooperation will be essential to success in the next stage of reforms. Therefore, while the Ministry of Justice will be our primary implementing partner, we will also work closely with a number of co-implementing partners, in particular the Secretariat to the Judicial Reform Steering Committee, the Institute of Legislative Studies of the National Assembly, and the Vietnamese Institute of Human Rights under the Ho Chi Minh National Political Administrative Academy. 

It’s certainly a demanding agenda. That’s why UNDP is strengthening the international and national technical expertise dedicated to the project, backed up as always with the expertise within our Governance cluster. In addition our Policy Advisor for Rule of Law and Access to Justice will support the main policy objectives of the project, and where possible complement them with UNDP’s own policy research resources.

Before I conclude I would like to highlight that the project we are launching today has benefited from an innovative approach to programme formulation. Instead of relying on a project proposal formulated by a team of consultants, a joint formulation exercise between UNDP and our counterparts in MOJ helped identify key MOJ priorities and how UNDP could meaningfully support these priority areas. We believe that this new approach has resulted in a well-designed project with better sustainability and impact of project results. 

In closing, I would like to pay tribute to the energy and commitment of Minister Ha Hung Cuong, Vice-Minister Hoang The Lien, and all the officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Reform Secretariat and the National Assembly’s Institute of Legislative Studies who designed this project. The cooperation with UNDP during the formulation of this project and in facilitating its speedy approval was outstanding. This is certainly a highly auspicious sign for the success of the cooperation to come. 

Thank you.