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Consultation Workshop on Viet Nam’s National Report under the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council Statement By Mr. Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, Vietnam

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Event: Consultation Workshop on Viet Nam's National Report under the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Date: Monday 23 July

Venue: JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi, 8 Đỗ Đức Dục, Mễ Trì, Nam Từ Liêm, Hà Nội

UPR CW_03

 As delivered

Statement By Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Vietnam

(Delivered by Mr. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UN Resident Coordinator a.i.)

  • Mr. Nguyen Van Thao, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam;
  • Representatives from line Ministries and provinces;
  • Representatives from Mass organizations;
  • Colleagues from the United Nations, development partners, Non-governmental sector and partners in the Media;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to deliver the statement of Mr. Kamal Malhotra, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, in my capacity as Acting Resident Coordinator of the UN in Viet Nam, in opening this consultation on Viet Nam's National Report under the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN Resident Coordinator, is, unfortunately, at the UN Headquarters in New York on official travel which he could not postpone and is, therefore, unable to participate in this important event. He has asked that I convey his warm greetings and regrets for not being here. Allow me now to read the Resident Coordinator's message.

In opening, I would like to express my appreciation to MOFA for hosting this consultation, and on the side of the UN in Viet Nam, the financial and substantive support of UNDP in making this event happen.

The UN Country Team believes the UPR process to be an invaluable opportunity for the Government of Viet Nam to engage directly with people, receive guidance from other UN members states, reflect internally on Government policy and practice, and develop new measures, all with the objective of strengthening human rights protection in Viet Nam.

The Third Cycle Review presents us with certain unique opportunities.

Firstly, we can track human rights trends since the first review in 2009, analyzing recommendations on human rights made by other countries, and how these recommendations have been implemented, or are yet to be implemented.

Secondly, with Viet Nam demonstrating greater capacity in managing the UPR process, through the continued strong coordination of MOFA, the Third Cycle allows us to focus more on the substantive human rights issues raised under the review. We encourage MOFA and all Ministries to see the UPR as an opportunity to work with stakeholders to develop practical steps to promote human rights, which will facilitate an even more in depth and effective review in 4 years time.

Since the last review, the UN in Viet Nam wishes to commend the Government for progress achieved in the protection of human rights. We have seen advancements in the protection of the rights of LGBT persons, the provision of social security for vulnerable groups, and reforms in the criminal justice system.

We must also recognize progress made by Viet Nam in furthering international integration in the area of human rights, including the ratification of both the Convention against Torture, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We welcome the visit to Viet Nam of the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Right to Food. Viet Nam is also currently preparing to be reviewed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the first time since 2002, and under the Convention against Torture for the first time.

Such progress complements the UPR process by highlighting gaps between human rights policy and practice. The UN in Viet Nam are delighted to have been in a position to support these achievements, and look forward to continue working with the Government and other stakeholders toward even greater integration over the next 4 years.

We also know that the UPR provides us with an opportunity to examine human rights challenges, which every country experiences. Viet Nam is no different and we know both in recent years, and as we look ahead, there are challenges faced by the country.

Through the work of the UN in Viet Nam, UN reporting mechanisms and special procedures of the Human Rights Council, we recognize the negative impacts on human rights of increased environmental degradation, and the consequences of failing to hold business enterprises accountable for human rights abuses.

Key to addressing these challenges is building partnerships, working with businesses, individuals and organizations for the promotion of human rights. We must create an environment which encourages different groups to come together.

The United Nations in Viet Nam is committed to constructive engagement with the government of Viet Nam to foster an environment that provides an enabling space for engagement of partners in the wider civil society.

With over 400 UPR country reviews conducted, the UN recognizes the critical importance of engagement with those who advocate for the protection of human rights to help reflect the voices of people and communities throughout this process, particularly those most marginalized in society. We warmly welcome MOFA's decision to co-host this consultation, and hope this commitment to greater engagement and participation continues throughout this process and beyond.

Looking ahead, the UN would like to highlight three key messages on our respective roles in this important process.

Firstly, we must all rethink our understanding of partnerships in human rights. We know the impact the private sector can have on human rights, both positive and negative, and we must explore appropriate opportunities to work with business to promote respect for human rights. Also, through Industrial Revolution 4.0, with machine learning and enhanced automation, we must reach out to technology leaders and responsible Government agencies to ensure innovations strengthen human rights and don't leave people behind.

Secondly, as development partners and organizations, with Viet Nam moving into middle income status and reduced inflows of overseas aid, we must reassess our role in assisting the Government. It is critical that we support by connecting Government to international experiences, expertise and partnerships as the country continues to develop its capacity to protect, respect and fulfil its human rights obligations.

Thirdly, all stakeholders play a key role in monitoring the human rights situation in Viet Nam. International experience shows that a vibrant community of civic organizations can provide the Government with key partners in giving a voice to vulnerable groups, highlighting risks and areas of concern, and working constructively with agencies to strengthen the protection of human rights. We must all look to support this engagement and ensure the full potential of Government engagement with the public is realized.

The UN in Viet Nam, we believe, plays a critical convening role. Through our strong national partnerships and international knowledge network, we provide a space for stakeholders to engage with each other and explore ways to address the most pressing human rights challenges, and we believe co-organizing this consultation is a strong example of this role.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to conclude by saying that the UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate the UN Country Team's commitment, as a longstanding partner of the Government of Viet Nam, to continuing our support to your Excellency's Government and the people of Vietnam, supporting the country's continued engagement with this invaluable global mechanism to help protect, promote and fulfill the rights of everyone in Viet Nam.

Thank You, Xin Cảm Ơn!