Speech at the launch of a new Human Rights project

23 Jul 2013

Speaker: Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Country Director.
Date:      Tuesday, 23 July
Event      Launch of the Project “Follow up and Support to the Implementation of Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review Recommendations. Increasing Vietnam’s Human Rights Capacity.”
Venue:    Ha Noi

Mr. Hoang Chi Trung, Director General of the Department of International Organizations, MOFA;

Representatives from national organizations, the UN and development partners;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good morning - I am very pleased to see you all here this morning to take part in the launch of the project to support Vietnam in the implementation of recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review.

This new human rights project is very timely. In just six months time Viet Nam will undergo its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council, taking stock of achievements as well as the remaining challenges of implementing the altogether 93 UPR recommendations accepted at the last review.

Since that time, UNDP has worked very closely with MOFA to strengthen the Government’s capacity to implement international human rights treaties that Viet Nam has acceded to.  Since the last UPR the Government has accelerated the submission of periodic reports to UN treaty bodies, and is working on the pending periodic report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Several special rapporteurs have visited the country since 2010, and preparations are underway to receive the UN Special Rapporteur on Culture. The increased engagement with UN human rights bodies through this project has increased the data available on human rights from the UN system and other national sources, which is already being used for human rights-based programming and UPR follow up. The human rights knowledge and understanding of Government officials has improved through capacity building and sharing of international experience on the Human Rights Council, national human rights institutions and regional human rights bodies.

Most importantly, the UPR process in Viet Nam has become much more inclusive than was the case in the preparation for the first review. The move towards a more participatory UPR process is key, and we note here the recent submission of a UPR stakeholder report to the Human Rights Council from a network of Civil Society organizations in Viet Nam.  

 Over the past few months we were very encouraged to see that the second UPR cycle triggered a national discussion on human rights. I would like to commend the Government for engaging in such a constructive dialogue with civil society, and for opening up its own reporting process. The national dialogue is key as it shows that the UPR outcomes at the international level are being incorporated into national debate and related processes.

In addition to the information provided by Government and civil society, the UN is also called upon by the Human Rights Council to provide information about the human rights situation on the ground in the lead up to the UPR review. Together with the Government’s report, the UN and the civil society reports will be part of the official documentation for review by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  

The new UNDP project that we inaugurate here today will support the Government to meet the remaining challenges in implementing civil and political rights, in particular the right to public and political participation.  Online consultations with citizens on the draft Government UPR report are being launched today, followed by a national consultation workshop in three weeks, during which the draft Government UPR report will be discussed with civil society.

Of course, being able to take part meaningfully in participatory processes requires access to information as well as freedom of expression. During the first UPR, Viet Nam accepted a number of recommendations relating to the freedom of expression, including one to “fully guarantee the right to receive, seek and impart information and ideas in compliance with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”. In this respect, we look forward to receiving a concrete timeline from the National Assembly for the revision of the law on information, association and demonstration, as soon as the new constitution is adopted later this year.

Besides focusing on the right to public participation, this project will continue to deepen Viet Nam’s Cooperation with Human Rights Mechanisms and support Viet Nam’s contributions to the Human Rights Council’s efforts to promote and protect human rights through the sharing of positive experiences in this regard.

The UN in Viet Nam will continue to cooperate with MOFA and other national stakeholders to follow up on the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of People Living with Disabilities. In its first Universal Periodic Review Viet Nam accepted recommendations to adopt a Law on Persons with Disabilities and to consider ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a voluntary commitment that Viet Nam made at the UPR in 2009 and reinforced recently with its candidacy to the Human Rights Council.

Finally, for the first time, this project will provide systematic training of government officials on human rights by developing a human rights teaching curriculum in cooperation with the diplomatic academy of MOFA.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through the provision of expertise to bring national legislation in line with international human rights standards, and by supporting national partners in rights based poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth initiatives, the entire UN system in Viet Nam remains engaged on human rights issues.

UNDP is also supporting the Government in looking options for establishing a National Human Rights Institution, based on the different modalities and options that exist around the world. Although the establishment of such an institution in accordance with the Paris Principles was rejected as a recommendation at the UPR in 2009, the Government expressed in its pledges supporting its candidacy to the Human Rights Council that this is nevertheless under consideration. We look forward to advancing this discussion to the next level and we are of course ready to help strengthen national capacities further in this regard.

In closing, I would like to thank our colleagues in MOFA and UNDP for their hard work in preparing the project and in organizing this project launch.
We look forward to a continued fruitful engagement with the Government on its UPR commitments and to deepen Viet Nam’s  international integration in the area of human rights.

Thank you. Xin Cảm Ơn.