Opening remarks at the workshop on the dissemination of lessons learned in public consultations with ethnic minorities by provincial People’s Councils

12 Oct 2011

Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director (Programme)
Date:      12 October 2011
Event:     Workshop on the dissemination of lessons learned in public consultations with ethnic minorities by provincial People’s Councils

Mr. Danh Ut, Vice Chair of the Ethnic Council
Dr. Sy Dung, Vice-Chair of the Office of the National Assembly of Viet Nam
Distinguished representatives from National Assembly Committees and the Provincial People’s Councils
Ladies and gentlemen:

It is a privilege and indeed a pleasure for me to open this workshop on the dissemination of lessons learned in public consultations with ethnic minorities jointly with Mr. Danh Ut and Dr. Sy Dung. Since 2008 when public consultations were introduced by the Office of the National Assembly with UNDP support, almost one third of Provincial People’s Councils have conducted public consultations. As a result, more than 10’000 people across Viet Nam had the opportunity to express their views on administrative decisions which directly affect their lives. Public consultations have not only allowed citizens to participate in the policy making process, but they have also proved to be useful to evaluate government’s policies and programmes. These consultations strengthen the oversight function of Provincial People Councils, and—as was just mentioned by Dr. Sy Dung—make their work more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people they serve.

Today’s workshop provides an excellent opportunity to draw lessons from public consultations with ethnic minorities, and to accordingly adapt the provincial and national regulations as well as the various tools that are currently being prepared by the Office of the National Assembly towards the specific needs and interests of ethnic minorities.

As noted by the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues who visited Viet Nam last year, there have been a number of important initiatives to promote the representation of ethnic minorities in the work of elected bodies. Ensuring the effective political participation of minorities in public consultations is crucial in that respect.
 
As many participants would know, there are a number of other international instruments that promote the inclusion of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples in public life. For instance, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples emphasizes the importance of consultations with indigenous peoples. Also, the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, includes provisions guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ rights to consultations. All of these instruments recognize that public consultations are a crucial means to providing voice, influence and agency to ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups.

It is very encouraging to see that Viet Nam is refining its framework for public consultations to suit the needs and interests of ethnic minorities. The results of today’s consultations will help to collect additional inputs on specific features of public consultations with ethnic minorities, and I look forward to listening to the lessons learned so far and how they inform the ongoing institutionalization process of public consultations at the provincial people’s council, but also at the national level.

In closing, I would like to thank the Office of the National Assembly and colleagues from the project office and UNDP for organizing this workshop.

I wish delegates of the National Assembly and the People’s Councils success in their work and very fruitful deliberations during today’s workshop.

Thank you.