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Opening Remarks by Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator UNDP Resident Representative, Viet Nam at Launch of the EU Justice and Legal Empowerment programme (EU JULE)

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Event: Launch of the EU Justice and Legal Empowerment programme (EU JULE)

Date: October 12, 2018

Venue: Ministry of Justice 56-58-60 Tran Phu, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

  • Vice Minister of Justice, Nguyen Khanh Ngoc;
  • Excellency Bruno Angelet;
  • Representatives from line Ministries and justice agencies;
  • Colleagues from the United Nations, development partners, and socio-political organisations;

I am very pleased to speak at this important event, co-hosted by the Ministry of Justice and the EU Delegation in Viet Nam. After sustained efforts over several years, it is a great achievement for all of us to be here to launch the EU Justice and Legal Empowerment programme.

I have repeated on many occasions since I arrived in Viet Nam last year that I have always believed that this programme is crucial for Viet Nam and its future development. Indeed, if Viet Nam is to make the transition to upper middle-income status successfully by 2035, rule of law and good governance will be as important for that transition as good economic indicators. The UN is pleased to be part of this programme both as a co-donor and an implementing partner.

The overall objective of the Programme is to strengthen the rule of law through a more reliable, trusted and better accessed justice system. Through an ambitious set of interventions, we will seek to increase access to justice for women, children and vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities and poor people to ensure that no one is left behind. As you know, this is a central principle of the UN's global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Collection of reliable data on access to justice to guide future policy-making will be an important part of the programme. Through data collection and analysis, we will identify which populations face the greatest challenges in accessing legal information and the justice system and we will support Government actors, both at the national and provincial levels, in addressing these challenges to increase access to justice for the most vulnerable.

Over the coming years, UNDP, UNICEF and UNODC will work together with Viet Namese partners to achieve four results (i) Increased public awareness and understanding of rights and how to invoke those legitimate rights in accordance with Viet Namese law; (ii) Increased access to legal advice, assistance and representation in both civil and criminal matters; (iii) Improved enabling legislative and regulatory framework for legal empowerment and access to justice; and (iv) Enhanced integrity and transparency in the justice sector.

Recognizing that these results do not fall under the responsibility of one Agency alone, we will work closely with a range of Viet Namese institutions and organisations, including the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Supreme People's Court (SPC), the Supreme People's Procuracy (SPP), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the Viet Nam Lawyers' Association (VLA), the Viet Nam Bar Federation (VBF), the National Assembly and many others. It is also worth noting that the programme also involves activities with law universities and research institutions relating to law and justice, non-governmental organizations, and the media. We look forward to working closely with all these Agencies to achieve results for those who are intended to benefit from this project.

It is important to link the programme with both the SDG and human rights agendas. Just several months ago, on 16 July, Viet Nam presented its Voluntary National Review on SDG implementation to the UN's High Level Political Forum in New York. The key SDG 16 aims to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights. One dimension of the rule of law is to ensure that laws comply with international norms and standards, including on human rights. Another dimension of the rule of law is to ensure that these laws are implemented across the country. This programme will help Viet Nam implement SDG16. Additionally, it will assist Viet Nam in implementing some of its human rights commitments. The programme comes at an opportune time when Viet Nam will undergo its next Universal Periodic Review in Geneva early next year.

Three UN agencies, namely UNDP, UNICEF and UNODC, will draw on their respective expertise to implement the programme together with Government and other partners. Each of the three agencies have a long history of engagement with the Government and people of Viet Nam in the area of justice. Building on this long standing trusted partnership with Viet Nam, we are confident that we can support the Government in delivering top level results in the areas of rule of law and access to justice.

Allow me to conclude by saying that the UN stands fully ready to implement the programme in partnership with the Government of Viet Nam, with the Ministry of Justice as the lead partner, but also with all our other related partners in the law and justice sector, with whom we expect to work directly on this programme. The two components of the EU JULE programme, PAGoDA and JIFF, are interrelated and we will continue to coordinate closely with Oxfam during the implementation phase. I first came to Viet Nam in 1989 when I was the Director of the Overseas and Aboriginal Programme of what is now Oxfam Australia, and my visits in the early 1990s were also in that role so I am very pleased to be collaborating with Oxfam in Viet Nam again and look forward to it. We hope, thereby, to support ongoing efforts to sustainably improve the rule of law and access to justice in Viet Nam. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Delegation of the European Union for making this cooperation possible. We look forward to working with all of you to make this project a success.

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!