Opening remarks at the launch of the 2012 Justice Index

Oct 3, 2013

Speaker: UNDP Deputy Country Director, Mr. Bakhodir Bukhanov
Date:       Thursday, 3 October 2013
Event:     Launch of the 2012 Justice Index
Venue:     Melia Hotel, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Professor Le Minh Tam, Vice-President of the Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association;
Mr. Nguyen Cong Hong, Vice-Chairman of Judiciary Committee, National Assembly;
Mr. Van Huu Chien, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Da Nang;
Dr. Dang Ngoc Dinh, Director of Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES);
Distinguished representatives of the National Assembly, Supreme People’s Court, Ministry of Justice, central and provincial justice institutions;
Civil society organizations, UN and development partner colleagues:

Good morning and a very warm welcome to you all to this launching ceremony of the 2012 Justice Index. First of all, I would like to acknowledge the Vietnam Lawyers’ Association (VLA) and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES) for their partnership in developing the Justice Index over past three years.

Viet Nam has done remarkably well in its development path since 1990s, but it now faces new challenges of reform and transition. Sustaining and enlarging the progress achieved requires sophisticated policies backed by quality analysis, research and data. As a new Middle-Income Country, Viet Nam is beginning to realize the potential of empirical research and policy monitoring tools. Experiences from other countries that have made the transition to middle-income status, confirm a shift in the relationship between the state and citizens in terms of the way they interact with each other. Wealthier, better-educated citizens demand higher quality, more efficient services. They want less bureaucracy and more accountability from authorities.

In this context, we are proud of our partnership with the VLA and CECODES to introduce a new approach to the assessment of legal and judicial reform processes. The Justice Index is unique as it captures citizen’s voices in assessing the performance of the state institutions in the administration of justice and adherence to the rule of law. Based on previous surveys of access to justice supported by UNDP in Viet Nam over the past decade, this is the first empirical justice index directly informed by opinions of over 5,000 respondents across 21 provinces of Viet Nam.

The focus on legal and judicial reforms from a people’s perspective is timely. The goals of restructuring national economy and developing responsive institutions cannot be realized without a strong legal and judicial sector based on the rule of law. The Justice Index offers an innovative ‘bottom-up’ approach built on a premise that citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of state services and that their opinions as end-users of these services should matter.

In this regard, equity, accessibility and efficiency are seen as foundations for the functioning of effective state institutions. Applied to the legal and judicial system, these principles additionally translate into integrity, non-discrimination and transparency. As Viet Nam advances its reform agenda, the pertinent questions are how to develop an effective, impartial and responsive legal and judicial system, and what evidence to use in making policy choices?

The Justice Index provides data that can help inform policy-makers, researchers and the public at large as they assess and monitor the performance of the legal and judicial sector. It follows a rigorous and scientific methodology, but it is not the only tool for such assessments. It complements existing national self-assessment instruments – for instance, the periodic reviews of the National Steering Committee on Judicial Reform on implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy, and the new Regulation on Standards for Legal Access of Citizens at Local Levels. Coupled with these instruments, the Justice Index can provide a useful reference for further reforms towards making the legal and judicial system more effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people. If regularly updated, we hope it will be even more useful by allowing the tracking of changes over time.

UNDP is committed to continuing its support for this initiate. We hope that both duty-bearers and rights-holders find the Justice Index a useful tool to strengthen the capacity of institutions to enforce and implement the law in a fair, effective and equitable manner, and to hold institutions accountable to delivering justice to all Vietnamese.

Xin Cam on va Chuc Suc Khoe!

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