INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Along the line of “Vietnam is willing to be a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the world community, striving for peace, independence, cooperation and development”, Vietnam is for openness and interactions and stands ready to have constructive dialogue and cooperation with all countries on human rights issues on the basis of equality, mutual respect and understanding. In that spirit, Vietnam has participated actively in many bilateral as well as multilateral forums on human rights issues and obtained numerous significant results.
Acceding to international conventions on human rights is a consistent policy of Vietnam, which demonstrates its commitment and determination to ensure the implementation of international legal norms on human rights. Vietnam has become a party to most of the important UN conventions on human rights, namely the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two Protocols on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts and on Children Trafficking, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. Since becoming a member of the International Labor Organization, Vietnam has joined 15 international conventions on labor rights, including the important ones like Convention No. 5 Fixing Minimum Age for Admission of Children to Industrial Employment, Convention No. 100 Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value and Convention No 111 Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation.
Vietnam fully honors its obligations under international conventions it accedes to. Vietnam has submitted and defended successfully all national reports on the implementation of international conventions on human rights. Specifically, Vietnam submitted and defended successfully its reports on the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on July 11, 2001, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on August 15, 2001, two reports on the implementation of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) (first report defended on July 12, 1990 and combined second and third reports on July 14, 2002), two reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (first report submitted and defended on January 20, 1993 and the 2nd and 3rd combined report on January 12, 2003). Vietnam has now completed its fourth report on the implementation of the CEDAW and will defend it at the United Nations this year. The completion of a large amount of work for the timely submission of most of the reports is evidence to Vietnam’s seriousness and full respect for its international commitments on human rights. This has been recognized and highly appreciated by Committees monitoring the implementation of the conventions and the international community.
Within multilateral arrangements, Vietnam has worked closely with other countries to promote human rights and protect fundamental principles of international law on human rights. Vietnam participated actively as a full member in a number of UN bodies on human rights such as the Commission on Human Rights for the term 2001-2003, Commission for Social Development for the term 2002-2004, ECOSOC for the term 2000-2002. At these multilateral forums, especially the Third Committee of the General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights, Vietnam has worked closely with other countries to contribute to the protection and advancement of human rights and fundamental principles of international law on human rights.
In particular, Vietnam has been participating actively in the struggle against the politicization of and the “double standards” attitude towards human rights issues by some countries, opposing the use of resolutions on “human rights situation” in some countries to create pressure on, intervene in internal affairs and violate sovereignty of developing countries. Vietnam has worked hard to promote the implementation of economic, cultural, social rights as well as the right to development to the same level as that of civil and political rights, taking initiative in and co-authoring many draft resolutions aimed at promoting the implementation of economic, cultural and social rights, especially those on children’s and women’s rights, education, drug and crimes and etc. Vietnam has also taken part and made active contributions to the work of the Like-Minded Human Rights Group and Asian Group, helping to reiterate progressive views and positions on human rights at the UN. At the 42nd session of the Commission for Social Development (February 2004), with the assistance of a number of countries in the region, Vietnam proposed the theme for the Commission’s next session as “International Cooperation in Preventing and Containing Serious Epidemics”. Vietnam was also one of the three developing countries which proposed the provision on “international cooperation” to be included in the draft Convention on the Rights of Disabled people as the basis for developing countries to work on during the deliberations of the special drafting committee of this Convention.
In parallel with its activities at multilateral forums, Vietnam is also willing to enter into bilateral dialogue and cooperation with other countries on human rights and social issues of mutual interests. Over the last years, Vietnam has held 10 rounds of dialogue with the United States (1994-2002), 4 rounds with the EU, 3 rounds with Australia and several rounds with Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In 2004 alone, such dialogues were held with the EU, Australia and Norway. Vietnam’s objective in these dialogues is to get better mutual understanding about each other’s specific conditions such as policy systems, historical circumstances and cultural identities. The spirit that underlines these dialogues is to seek agreement and minimize differences, promoting the principles of objectivity, non-bias and non-politicizing human rights issues.
Besides, a number of UN rapporteurs and many foreign delegations have been invited to get a better understanding of the situation in Vietnam. In responding to the need for academic exchange and experience sharing among countries in ensuring human rights, Vietnam has hosted a number of international workshops and conferences on this issue, e.g., the Workshop on the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment and Punishment (December 2003), the Vietnam-EU Seminar on Capital Punishment (November 2004) and the 6th Human Rights Seminar co-sponsored by China, Norway and Canada and participated by more than 20 countries in the region (December 2004). In these events, international delegates had the opportunities to understand better Vietnam’s general human rights policy and its specific policies in different areas of human rights protection. The workshops constituted genuine forums for open and frank discussions for greater mutual understanding.
Apart from exchange activities on human rights at the governmental level, Vietnam encourages academic exchange on this issue. As such, the Center for Human Rights Study under the Ho Chi Minh Political Academy has cooperated with Sweden, Switzerland and Canada to organize training courses on international law on human rights and humanity, with Denmark to publish books on adolescence, with Australia to improve the quality of international law lecturers, with UNICEF to disseminate information on the rights of the child and with the International Red Cross to provide training on international law on humanity. It also exchanges experience in training on human rights traditions with China and the Lao PDR.
Activities to provide the international community with general information and information on human rights have been given greater attention. Vietnam’s representative missions abroad have expanded communications about the country and its people. Every year, tens of thousands of publications are sent abroad, highlighting achievements on socio-economic development and on the improvement of people’s material, cultural and spiritual life. In 2003 alone, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out more than 250,000 newspapers and magazines, 6,000 leaflets, 2,500 photos and 8,500 books of all types about Vietnam. Many bulletins on human rights and the observance of religions and belief in Vietnam have also been issued. Through these activities, international friends have gained better understanding about Vietnam’s foreign policy in general and its achievements in promoting human rights./.
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