Immediately after becoming a member of the United Nations Organization (UN) in 1977, Vietnam adhered to international conventions on human rights in the 1980s of the 20th century. This demonstrated the country’s great efforts as it had just undergone a fierce war, and was facing numerous difficulties on all political, economic, social and cultural fronts.

All Vietnamese citizens over 18 years old have the right to vote in the national election. (File photo)

It should also be noted that Vietnam had earlier adopted a number of international conventions, including the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of War Victims (in 1949), and another International Convention on Prisoners of War (1957). Vietnam’s accession to the international conventions on human rights in the 1980’s demonstrated its great efforts in protecting, honoring and promoting fundamental human rights in line with the international standards.

So far, Vietnam has participated in almost all international conventions on fundamental human rights; these include: the 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (ratified by Vietnam on September 24, 1982); the 1966 International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ratified September 24, 1982); the 1979 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (ratified February 17, 1982); the 1969 International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (ratified June 9, 1982); the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified February 28, 1990), the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (ratified December 20, 2001), and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (ratified December 20, 2001); the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ratified February 5, 2015); the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ratified May 2, 2015).

Furthermore, the State of Vietnam has always considered the mission of honoring, protecting and promoting the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens to be the basic principle of every strategy for national socio-economic development. This also demonstrates the country’s effort to realize its commitments to the international legal frameworks and institutions, of which Vietnam is a member, and to implement the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations that the country has adopted. Facts have shown that the country has achieved encouraging outcomes.

Apart from the previously-mentioned international conventions, Vietnam has participated in a number of other international conventions relating to the protection of human rights and international humanitarian laws, such as the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims in Non-International Armed Conflicts (on August 28, 1981); the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (June 9, 1981); the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (June 9, 1981); the International Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity (June 4, 1983); the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (June 8, 2012).

Vietnam also embraces the basic and comprehensive standards on human rights. Over the past years, it has been trying to include universally recognized provisions on human rights in the Vietnamese laws and policies in line with its specific political, social, economic and cultural conditions.

Vietnam with a high resolve tries to build a rule-of-law State belonging to the people, run by the people and serving the people, and to institutionalize human rights in its legal documents, particularly the 2013 Constitution, which contains a chapter specifying human rights and citizenships.

The completion of the legal framework on human rights and citizenships is implemented in a synchronized, comprehensive and consistent manner via the lawmaking process at the National Assembly. Meanwhile, the Government is proactive in issuing policies, mechanisms and approaches to ensure and promote human rights in practice.

Since 2009, the National Assembly has promulgated and amended a large number of important laws, creating a full and firm legal basis to honor and guarantee the practice of human rights. The recently-issued laws relating to human rights include the Law on State Compensation Liability (2009), Law on Medical Examination and Treatment (2009), Law on the Elderly (2010), Law on Persons with Disabilities (2010), Law on the Execution of Criminal Judgments (2010), Law on Appeals (2011), Law on Complaints (2011), Law on the Prevention of and Combat against Human Trafficking (2011), Law on Trade Unions (2012) and so on. Meanwhile, the Government has also issued many documents guiding the implementation of the laws in accordance with the country’s socio-economic development situation.

Alongside the issuance of the laws and guides to the laws on human rights, Vietnam has promoted and expanded education and training programs on human rights for officials at State agencies over the past years. The Central Government and local authorities also held conferences, seminars and workshops on human rights with the participation of representatives of central and local agencies, research centers, and education and training institutions specializing in human rights.

The intensive dissemination and education on human rights have enriched State officials and public workers at all levels with the knowledge and raised their awareness of human rights. Some information about human rights is even included in schools’ education programs, and many contents of human rights are integrated into subjects at law and social sciences universities and colleges.

In the international domain, Vietnam is participating in UN human rights agencies more actively and proactively. It was even voted for the membership of the UN Human Rights Council in the 2014-16 term.

In the region, Vietnam seriously took part in compiling the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and contributes positively to the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights and ASEAN Commissions on women, children and migrant workers.

In terms of bilateral cooperation on human rights, the country has dialogue mechanisms with five partners, namely the USA, the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Australia. Additionally, it participates in many other informal exchange channels and international fora on human rights.

In general, Vietnam has always proven itself both active and proactive in bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms on human rights, and made practical contributions to the international community’s efforts to promote human rights.

Vietnam has persistently pursued its policy to honor, protect and promote human rights, and indeed attained significant achievements in both developing the legal framework on human rights and guaranteeing the practice of human rights in the reality over the past decades.

As Vietnam is striving to build a democratic, modernized and civilized country, a society with its people in the center of all development processes and a rule-of-law State, it attaches much importance to honoring, protecting and promoting human rights. Even more important is the fact that the concept of human rights well coincides with the Vietnamese people’s long traditions of humanism and humanity, and human rights also reflect the will and aspirations of the Vietnamese people – a nation that has underwent many wars and suffered many pains of wars, some in the not so distant past. 

Translated by Thu Nguyen