Speech at the UPR Consultation Workshop

06 Aug 2013

Speaker: United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Pratibha Mehta
Date:  Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Event: UPR Consultation Workshop
Venue: Room 318, International Conference Center, 11 Le Hong Phong, Ha Noi

Mr Hoang Chi Trung, Director General of the Department of International Organizations, MOFA;
Colleagues from national organizations, the UN and development partners;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am very pleased to be with you this morning. Today’s national cconsultation provides an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on the Universal Periodic Review Process, and in particular on the implementation of the 93 recommendations made by the human Rights Council and voluntarily accepted by Viet Nam in 2009.

The UPR is a unique mechanism - as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in October 2011 at the Human Rights Council: “The UPR has proved to be an innovative, transparent, collaborative instrument for change and has made it possible – for the first time ever – for all UN Member States to be reviewed on an equal basis”.

All of you here today – Government, development partners, UN Colleagues and civil society - are key to the UPR process. I would like to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam on increasing its engagement with international human rights mechanisms over the past few years - a positive trajectory that I hope will continue. At the same time, more work is needed to strengthen the monitoring process of the human rights situation on the ground, as well as on increasing the availability of data and evidence based information on the current Human Hrights situation. Robust data and evidence are   vital to the overall UPR process and for objectively analyzing the progress and gaps and indentifying actions for improvement. As Viet Nam’s progress will be reviewed in January 2014 for the second time. Of course the UPR is not a onetime event, but an ongoing national process to implement the accepted recommendations. This follow-up phase is perhaps the most critical; as it is about holding States accountable for the recommendations that they have voluntarily accepted.  
We are all aware that the UPR process is complex, but it is also an important source of learning. It helps to (i) reinforce the human rights institutional framework  (ii)  improve human rights awareness by creating a credible baseline; (iii) exchange good practices  and lessons learned from implementation at all levels.

In line with the global practice, in June the United Nations Country Team in Viet Nam submitted its own UPR report providing an analysis of the human rights situation here in Viet Nam based on our work with the national partners.  For the first time, however, I’m especially pleased to note that three coalitions of Vietnamese CSOs also carried out their own independent assessments of the human rights situations and sent their report.  Other NGOs and international organizations may have also sent  their reports. In addition to attending the State review process as observers in the Human Rights Council, the national and international non government organizations can present their views in the informal pre-session which will be organized by UPR Info, a Geneva based non-profit and non-governmental organisation, 2 months prior to the State review.
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Another important step I would like to ccongratulate the Government on is   for making the draft national report available 6 months before the State review at the Human Rights Council, as well as for making it available on the MOFA website and inviting citizen comments. However,  the government may wish to consider a more user friendly accessibility  of the on-line report and extending the two week public review period to allow for greater public outreach.   

I believe that productive engagement between government and civil society is one of the most important benefits to emerge from the inclusive UPR process – not least in making it possible to identify strengths and gaps in the human rights protection system.   The increased involvement of civil society in the UPR process this time is also a strong demonstration of the presence of an active civil society in Viet Nam that is very keen to constructively voice its views.

In closing, let me stress that   the UN in Viet Nam is deeply committed to supporting national efforts to ensure, protect and promote human rights through our One UN Plan for 2012-2016.  Today’s  workshop, which is an important element of the new project led by MOFA and supported by UNDP, is a critical step in national consultation process,  going forward we believe that Viet Nam would benefit from the preparation of a UPR mid-term report and from the engagement of provincial stakeholders in reporting and reviewing the  UPR progress. 89 Member States have already committed to submitting a mid-term report, and if Viet Nam wishes to follow this course, the  UN stands ready to support.

We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Government and people of Vietnam in their pursuit to protect and promote human rights in the country.    
 
I wish you all good health and happiness, and a very successful workshop.
Thank you. Xin Cảm Ơn.