The Vietnamese Party’s and State’s consistent policy confirms that human rights must be ensured and implemented by the Constitution and law. Since its inauguration, Vietnam has considered protecting human rights a central task. In the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh solemnly proclaimed: “Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country—and in fact is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.”

(Photo for illustration :VNA)

Later, elements related to human rights were formally institutionalized into constitutional rights and law in the country’s first constitution (Constitution 1946). After four amendments and supplements, from the 1946 Constitution to the 1980 Constitution, 1992 Constitution, and the 2013 Constitution, human rights have increasingly become constitutional rights.

Notwithstanding historical and understandable ups and downs during the revolutionary cause, the renewal, the cause of building and defending the socialist fatherland, our Party and State have always striven for the loftiest goal of respecting and ensuring human rights. Our Party plans to build and perfect the state socialist law, at the core of which is “a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” In the system of fundamental viewpoints, consistent policies, and legal framework, the Vietnamese Party and State always define human rights as both a target and driver in the cause of building and defending the Fatherland. Every guideline and policy of the Party and State aims at the highest goal of the people, and for the people.

To institutionalize the Party’s viewpoints, guidelines, and policies, the Government of Vietnam has gradually finalized its system of policies, laws, and mechanisms, considering it a crucial factor to protect and strengthen human rights. The Vietnamese Party and State fully pay attention to renewing law-building and legislature reform. This effort is incorporated with the policy to enhance administrative reforms and improve the capacity and efficiency of the government apparatus, striving to building a socialist state of law. In recent years, Vietnam has enacted, amended, and supplemented many legal documents related to protecting and promoting human rights, including protecting the rights of vulnerable groups. Vietnam’s Constitution and law ensure fully fundamental rights of humankind in political, civil, economic, and cultural aspects. Vietnam’s legal system suits the country’s situation and complies with international standards as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions, of which Vietnam is known as an active member.

Perfecting its legal system is a premise and condition for Vietnam to gradually institutionalize the Party’s and State’s viewpoints and guidelines on human rights, creating a legal path to protecting and promoting human rights. Achievements in ensuring and improving fundamental rights of Vietnamese citizens have been clearly demonstrated in the implementation of civil, political, economic, cultural, and social rights. Particularly, in Vietnam, the right to vote, run for election, and participate in State governance and social management is ensured for every citizen. Vietnam plans to further widen democracy with the motto of “the people know, the people discuss, and the people inspect.” The people are those who decide every activity of the State. Vietnamese citizens are entitled to manage the society directly or through representatives whom they elect. The Government of Vietnam always endeavors to ensure and facilitate every citizen to exercise the right to govern the State and manage the society, considering it one of the most important tranches of rights of its citizens.

Moreover, Vietnam always respects and ensures freedom of speech and freedom of press and information in line with its Constitution and law. In recent years, activities of the mass media have been strikingly vivid. The rapid, vigorous, and diversified development of media platforms with abundant information in Vietnam is evidence of the freedom of speech and the freedom of press and access to information. The Vietnamese media has become a forum for discussion of social and political organizations and people, an instrument to protect public interests and rights to freedom of the people. The media is also an important force in inspecting and monitoring policy and law implementation of the State. The media plays an important role in exposing legal violations, contributing remarkably to fighting against corruption and social evils, and building a pure and strong civil authority.

Citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly and association are ensured and regulated in details in the Constitution, the Criminal Code, the Civil Code, and other legal documents. Apart from the Communist Party of Vietnam, Vietnam also has the Vietnam Fatherland Front and five organizations of Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, the Vietnamese Women’s Association, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and the Vietnam Veterans’ Association, and hundreds of other social and occupational organizations with tens of millions of members. Together with the national-level trade union, there are also over 6,000 trade unions at the grassroots level in Vietnam. These organizations and associations work on a voluntary basis, self-govern, are independent, and fully observe the law. The increase in the number of the organizations, associations, and clubs proves that the rights to freedom of assembly and association is respected and ensured in Vietnam.

The Government of Vietnam considers beliefs and voluntary religious observances as a legitimate demand of the people. Vietnam’s consistent policy is to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of beliefs and religions, and following or not following a religion. This is clearly stated in Vietnam’s Constitution and law; fully ensured and respected in reality. Vietnam always respects and protects followers’ rights to worship and practice their beliefs and religions, and this policy is fully enshrined in the law. The number of religious dignitaries and practitioners is increasing yearly to better meet the spiritual demand of the people. The religious dignitaries are also entitled to participate in State governance and social management, run for election in the National Assembly and people’s councils like any other citizens. Religions have rights and are facilitated by the government to open schools or training facilities, publish religious documents, and participate in social activities. Vietnam has been implementing many concrete policies and measures to ensure that its citizens can fully enjoy religious freedom and beliefs, including the Law on Beliefs and Religion, passed by the National Assembly in November 2016 (due to come into effect in January 2018).

Vietnam attaches significant importance to ethnic policies, ensuring the rights of equality among ethnic groups, considering it a decisive factor for the sustainable development of the country. This policy is comprehensively demonstrated in political, economic, cultural, and social fields as well as guidelines, policies, and laws of the Party and State. Vietnamese citizens, regardless of ethnic groups, are equal in front of the law, entitled to rights and equally subject to the obligations of citizens, as can be witnessed in any of the developed countries of the world.

While the world economy is in crisis and depressed, Vietnam, with its effective political and ideological solutions, maintain its economic stability with a relatively high economic growth. Average income per capita of Vietnamese people increased from USD 1,024 in 2008 to USD 2,200 in 2016. Economic growth has created important favorable conditions for Vietnam to solve imperative social issues, achieving social equality, and thereby further ensuring the value of human rights and citizens’ rights. The Party and State of Vietnam has paid due attention to hunger alleviation and poverty reduction with remarkable achievements widely recognized by the international community. Vietnam is among a few countries which was honored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for gaining many achievements in hunger alleviation and poverty reduction. Most importantly, Vietnam has achieved the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and positively empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Former UN Secretary-General (2007-2016) Ban Ki-moon said that Vietnam is one of the leading countries of the world in implementing the MDGs.

Vietnam is a member of almost all international conventions on human rights and fully exercises all obligations mandated in these conventions, thereby seriously complying with international commitments on human rights. At international organizations, meetings and fora, Vietnam has been recognized for its important achievements in ensuring fundamental human rights. Moreover, Vietnam received the maximum support in becoming a member of the Human Rights Council from 2014-2016.

Basic achievements in ensuring and promoting human rights in Vietnam are the outcomes of the country’s consistent policies which place humans at the center of development, and strictly follow international standards and obligations. Distorted voices of certain hostile forces aim to misinform the world about the human rights situation in Vietnam. However, this represents nothing new, for in the current context Vietnam can be judged by the evaluations and recognition of its peers, international community and these, and the vivid evolving reality in Vietnam, all deny those distorted voices of bad-will from those individuals or organizations.

Translated by Nam Long