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Opening Remarks by Bakhodir Burkhanov, Deputy Country Director at the Consultation Workshop on the Preparation of the ICCPR National Report

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Date: Monday, 29 June 2015
Event: Consultation Workshop on the Preparation of the ICCPR National Report
Venue: National Assembly Guest House, 165 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, HCMC

Mr. Nguyễn Khánh Ngọc, Vice-Minister of Justice
Representatives from ministries, provincial authorities
Ladies and gentlemen:

Today’s discussion on Viet Nam’s National Report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ICCPR, comes at an opportune time. Since Viet Nam ratified the ICCPR in 1982, many significant developments have occurred. Viet Nam adopted a constitutional amendment that emphasizes the State’s role in guaranteeing the human and civic rights of its people. Viet Nam also ratified other fundamental rights treaties, notably the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Viet Nam is currently producing its action plan to implement the accepted recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in 2014. Finally, the National Assembly just concluded its 9th session after debating on many key principles contained in the ICCPR, including the right of the accused to remain silent and removing crimes from the list of penalties punishable by death – not to mention broadening citizens’ participation in decision-making processes embedded in the revised Law on Election and Law on Referendum.

These milestones are all consequential and inter-related components of Viet Nam’s ongoing development and integration of international standards on civil and political rights.

We commend the lead role of the Ministry of Justice in preparing the submission of the ICCPR report and organizing today’s expert consultation. I would like to especially acknowledge Vice-Minister Ngoc’s role in convening and facilitating this workshop.

The anticipated submission of the ICCPR report this year will not only fulfill a commitment to the UN Human Rights Committee – it also provides an occasion for Viet Nam to critically assess and evaluate the progress it has made towards more inclusive socio-political development over the past 12 years. Equally important, this report is an opportunity for Viet Nam to acknowledge where more work is needed to better adhere to the fundamental principles of the Human Rights treaties to which it is a party.

The Working Group of the Ministry of Justice responsible for compiling the report can look to guidance provided by the terms of the Convention. The ICCPR asks signatories to report not only on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized in the Convention, but to also report on the progress made in the enjoyment of these rights by their citizens. Statutory changes are certainly an important aspect of the report, as they reflect important developments in Viet Nam’s human rights status.  However, the UN Human Rights Committee also asks signatories to report on practical measures they have taken that can be documented and verified by data and statistics.

We urge the Working Group to adopt a participatory and transparent reporting process that obtains inputs, at the earliest possible stage, from all stakeholders, including civil society, social and mass organizations. Including a broad range of voices will help the report more accurately reflect the achievements made – and the challenges that remain – to fully implementing the key principles of the Convention at the national and local levels. Inviting civil society to participate in the reporting process is in itself a noteworthy indication of progress towards safeguarding civil and political rights.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The ICCPR, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, forms what is referred to as the International Bill of Rights. It serves to inform nations of the minimum guarantees that ensure all people can have a dignified and meaningful life. It is encouraging that many of the underlying principles and value of the ICCPR are echoed in the post-2015 development agenda. The forthcoming Sustainable Development Goal #16 will promote and measure action by all UN Member States and other stakeholders in creating peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

I hope that our discussions today will produce ideas and recommendations reflecting how Viet Nam has incorporated the principles of the ICCPR into all facets of society.

I thank you for your attention and wish all participants a productive meeting.