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Speech By Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative at the Workshop on Universal Periodic Review Action Plan Consultation

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Date: 5 August 2015

Event: Workshop on Universal Periodic Review Action Plan Consultation

Venue: Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

  • Excellency Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs;
  • Mr. Vu Anh Quang, Director-General of the International Organizations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • Mr. Nguyen Quy Binh, Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations in Geneva;
  • Distinguished representatives of government institutions, diplomatic missions, civil society and UN organizations;
  • Ladies and gentlemen:

Dr. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam delivering her opening remark at the event. Photo: UN Viet Nam\2015\Truong Viet Hung Dr. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam delivering her opening remark at the event. Photo: UN Viet Nam\2015\Truong Viet Hung

A very good morning to you all.

I am pleased to welcome you to the UPR Action Plan consultation meeting. This workshop is part of the UPR implementation process stemming from the second cycle of Universal Periodic Review.

I would like to start by thanking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing this dialogue, which gathers various stakeholders and experts to provide inputs into the draft UPR Action Plan for Viet Nam.

More broadly, I congratulate the Government for a continued commitment to engage with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and for following up on the UPR process. We are happy to see a diverse audience at today’s consultation. All of the participants present here today – Government, development partners, UN colleagues, media and civil society – have important roles in the UPR process.

The second UPR cycle marked a significant step forward in Viet Nam’s integration within international human rights instruments. In 2014, Viet Nam received a total of 227 recommendations. The Government accepted 182 of these recommendations. The review acknowledged positive steps, including acceptance of recommendations related to granting legal status to more NGOs and civil society groups, and allowing more room for non-state media.

An inclusive process is an important feature of the UPR mechanism. This follow-up phase is perhaps the most critical; implementing voluntarily accepted recommendations shows the State’s commitment to proactively make changes in the realm of human rights.

Viet Nam was among the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and acceded to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights in 1982. More recently, the country ratified the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. As the human rights instruments and covenants become universally acceptable, it is even more important that all countries strengthen the monitoring processes on the ground, and are able to back up their reports and assertions with data and evidence that can be objectively verified.

Best practices in UPR implementation show that transparency and broad participation are crucial elements of the process. Importantly, all stakeholders should be able to measure the progress of actions through a robust monitoring framework.

Systematic data collection and open appraisal of progress by all stakeholders would be key factors of success for the Action Plan. Given the multi-sectoral character of the actions, effective coordination mechanisms will be critical as well. The Action Plan would benefit from a time-bound framework, with a clear indication of responsibilities among institutions involved.
Ladies and gentlemen:

Today’s consultation is an excellent opportunity for the Government, the civil society and other stakeholders to provide feedback on the draft UPR Action Plan. This process also benefits the new legislation that is being developed in line with the Human Rights guarantees made in the 2013 Constitutional amendment, including the new laws emerging from Viet Nam’s response to the UPR.

It is encouraging to see the positive interaction between ministries and relevant agencies in joining their forces to plan in a mutually informed and accountable fashion.

The United Nations would like to take this opportunity to share a few points on the UPR follow up process:
First, broader participation of rights-holders and duty-bearers is critical. One of the benefits of the UPR mechanism has been that it provides for an inclusive platform for all stakeholders to come together and identify strengths and gaps in the human rights protection system, and to identify solutions together on how to overcome remaining challenges. We hope that discussions such as today’s will continue to offer an open and inclusive forum for a variety of stakeholders to contribute to the progress in UPR follow-up.

In line with the voluntary pledges made by the Government in support of its Human Rights Council membership, strengthening citizen involvement will have a strong positive impact on planning and execution of policies.

Second, the UN supports strong civil society voice in the UPR action planning and implementation. As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in June 2015 at the 70 year anniversary of the United Nations: “[A] dynamic, diverse and independent civil society, able to operate freely and safely is essential. We all must work to protect and […] champion those practices and experiences from around the world that widen and deepen civic space.”

I would like to encourage civil society participation in commenting on the draft Action Plan. Civil society actors are often experts in their own field and can offer valuable recommendations in cooperation with state authorities. It is important that a broad range of voices is present to reflect the diversity of the civil society landscape in Viet Nam.

Third, the UN welcomes interactive discussions and we look forward to your concrete suggestions on the way forward. This may include actions such as reaching out to other relevant stakeholders, also at the grassroots level, and receiving further comments after this consultation workshop. We would also welcome the development of a concise roadmap paper with key action points to guide all relevant national agencies and institutions as they work to implement the UPR actions.

The United Nations welcomes closer cooperation with a broad range of national and international partners in implementing UPR recommendations and human rights treaties and conventions that Viet Nam has ratified.

Respect for human rights is the guiding principle of the United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global expression of the rights to which all people are entitled. In that spirit, and on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam, I would like to offer our full support to the inclusive and action-oriented UPR planning and implementation process.
I wish you all good health and happiness, and very successful workshop deliberations.

Xin Cảm Ơn!