Speech at the briefing on the XIII National Assembly Election in 2011

19 Apr 2011

Speaker: Mr. John Hendra, United Nations Resident Coordinator
Date:      Tuesday 19 April 2011
Event:     Briefing on the XIII National Assembly Election in 2011
Venue:    Nikko Hotel, Ha Noi

Dr. Si Dzung, Vice Chairman of the Office of the National Assembly;

Senior officials from the National Assembly, from the Office of the National Assembly and from the Fatherland Front;

Your Excellencies Ambassadors and Development Partners;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

With the elections to the 13th National Assembly and the local People’s Councils taking place next month, I am delighted to welcome you all to this briefing on the electoral process and the status of preparation for the elections. As UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, it is a privilege and real pleasure for me to open this event jointly with the Vice Chairman of the Office of the National Assembly Dr. Si Dzung.

This morning’s briefing is part of the dialogue and cooperation that has been developing between the National Assembly and representatives of the international community in Hanoi. As we know, one of the main new features of the 2011 elections is that the amended 2010 Election Law provides for the first time for national and local elections to take place on the same day and for the terms of elected bodies to be aligned from now on.

In this respect, it will be particularly interesting to hear about the operational challenges involved in this year’s elections and possibly discuss the implications that this change will bring to the functioning of Viet Nam’s legislative branch.

The process and status of candidate designations is also of particular interest, specifically whether it remains in line with established practices or brings about a number of changes as part of institutional reforms. Let me briefly touch on two issues of representation which the UN believes are of particular importance in these upcoming elections.

First is the representation of women in both the National Assembly and People’s Councils. I strongly hope that the National Assembly will achieve at least the set target of 30 percent female Deputies and that Viet Nam maintains its status as one of the South-East Asian countries with the highest percentage of female members of parliament. I also very much hope that the same percentages will be achieved at the local level, where women have not been as well represented.

Beyond the percentage of elected women, I hope that gender equity will also become a reality through an increased number of women accessing senior positions in elected bodies, in particular as Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons of NA committees.

Secondly, it is also our hope that the target of 18 percent ethnic minority deputies is met. As noted by the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, who visited Viet Nam last year, there have been a number of important initiatives to promote the representation of ethnic minorities in the National Assembly. Ensuring the effective political participation of minorities in elected bodies as well as in central and local governments is crucial in that respect.

The 12th legislature has confirmed the trend of a National Assembly in Viet Nam that increasingly fulfills the functions assigned to it by the Constitution, an Assembly that takes seriously its oversight functions and an Assembly which when performing such oversight plays a constructive and valuable role in the strengthening of governance and the deepening of the democratic debate on key issues of interest to the people. For example, the “Questions and Answers” sessions are, in both the eyes of the international community and the Vietnamese people, an excellent example of the progress made.

The 12th legislature has also been one during which Committees have played an increasingly assertive role and one during which members of the National Assembly have taken their responsibilities seriously and taken steps to reject proposals under the majority rule, as happens regularly in most of the parliaments of the world. This also bears testimony to the progress made in the strengthening of the role of the Assembly and the enhancement of its accountability.

The legislative term that is coming to an end has also importantly seen the piloting of new approaches to public consultations and the introduction of public hearings, both of which have served to strengthen dialogue between elected bodies and electors, as well as contribute to improving the quality of laws passed by the National Assembly.

Hence, it is my sincere hope that the 13th National Assembly with new members and new leadership will continue in the same direction as the 12th legislature and will not only consolidate key gains made but make further progress to respond effectively to the expectations of the people. I also hope that the People’s Councils, with strengthened capacity, will be able to play an increasingly meaningful role at the local level.

It is with these objectives in mind that the UN will be supporting the Office of the National Assembly to provide training to female and ethnic minority candidates, and will partner with the Training Center for Elected Representatives of the Office of the National Assembly to train newly-elected Deputies. 

In closing, I would like to thank the Office of the National Assembly for their work in organizing this briefing. I am sure that our discussions here this morning will contribute to a better understanding of the main features of this year’s elections, as well as some of the key challenges at hand. And, like all of you, I very much look forward to seeing the benefits for all Vietnamese people of a strong, capable and even more professional National Assembly and People’s Councils than the previous ones.

I wish you all good health and happiness, and a very successful briefing.

Thank you.