Commemoration of International Human Rights Day and Launch of Viet Nam’s Universal Periodic Review Process for the 4th Cycle
Remarks by Ms. Pauline Tamesis, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam
12 December 2022
Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Representatives from ministries, national partners, and development partners;
Dear colleagues from the UN;
I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for co-organizing this event to commemorate International Human Rights Day and to launch the 4th Cycle of the Universal Period Review (UPR) process for Viet Nam. Human Rights Day is observed on 10 December each year, the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. 74 years on, we continue to reaffirm the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to uphold universal, indivisible and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone, everywhere.
To remind us of the relevance and legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ahead of its 75th Anniversary celebration next year, the United Nations is launching the year-long campaign “UDHR 75: Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”.
Today, the world is facing a multitude of challenges, from pandemics to conflicts to climate change. Across the globe, social injustice pervades societies; fundamental freedoms of religion and belief, of opinion and expression, are under attack; and marginalized groups face persistent inequalities and discrimination, unable to exercise their rights.
In Viet Nam, we have also seen many challenges this year, including recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, coping with the increasing food and energy prices from the fallout of the war in Ukraine, and battling the impact of the climate crisis at the frontlines. As one of the countries most affected by the climate crisis, the General Assembly Resolution on the right to a clean and healthy environment adopted this year is particularly relevant in the Vietnamese context. It is ultimately the vulnerable populations who disproportionately bear the brunt of these stresses to social, political, and economic systems.
We think about the women who face increased risks of gender-based violence and burdens for unpaid care and domestic work in times of crises. We think about the children in rural areas who are even more susceptible to severe malnourishment when food becomes scarcer. We think about the smallholder farmers whose crop yields are destroyed by drought, heat waves and flooding.
Such challenges threaten dignity and equality in rights, including health, food, education, an adequate standard of living, social assistance, and even to life itself. The realities that vulnerable individuals and communities face in their lives and livelihoods serve as a reminder and push for our continued action to integrate human rights in all development priorities – from climate action, to social protection, to economic transformation – and put people at the centre of development.
I would once again like to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam on its election to the Human Rights Council for the period 2023-2025. With membership to the Human Rights Council comes a great responsibility but also an important opportunity to demonstrate concrete efforts in protecting and promoting economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights in line with international human rights standards and the human rights treaties that Viet Nam has ratified.
In this regard, international human rights mechanisms, such as the UPR, are important avenues for honest reflection and constructive dialogue on human rights between the human rights treaty bodies, Government, state entities, civil society, businesses, development partners, and other key actors.
As Viet Nam launches the 4th Cycle of the UPR, I would like to share two points to guide the process:
First, embrace the UPR as a way to reflect on and improve human rights progress in the country. In the 3rd Cycle of the UPR, Viet Nam fully supported 220 out of 291 recommendations it received, an increase of 13% from the 2nd Cycle. This positive trend is encouraging and should continue in the 4th Cycle. But beyond the acceptance of recommendations, allow me to stress the importance of implementing these recommendations, and to do so in complementarity with those from other international human rights mechanisms such as Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures.
Second, ensure inclusion and participation throughout the UPR process. I would like to stress the importance of increased and meaningful engagement of diverse non-government actors and communities, including children, youth, women, the elderly, ethnic minorities, LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations. We believe that, to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and also the commitments made at the COP 26 last year, Viet Nam needs to unlock the full potential of a whole-of-society approach. Listening to their voices and promoting vibrant dialogue across many segments of the society can help Viet Nam progress on a broad range of issues. The same approach should be taken in the next UPR process as well. This entails empowering rights holders with the knowledge, networks and access to justice to claim their rights individually and collectively. The crucial role and value of civil society and communities in adding expertise and experience from the realities on the ground, cannot be stressed enough.
The United Nations is proud to be a long-standing partner of Viet Nam over the past 45 years. We were privileged to welcome our Secretary-General to Viet Nam in October, who was able to commemorate this anniversary in person along with the leadership and people of Viet Nam. As we step into the new year, the UN in Viet Nam will continue to work closely with the Government of Viet Nam, development partners and civil society, to keep human rights at the centre of all development efforts.
As One UN, based on the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2022-2026 and drawing on our different expertise, we will support Viet Nam in capacity building, multi-stakeholder consultations and other technical assistance, to respect, protect, promote and fulfil all human rights. This will be done in close collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the key agency for human rights within the United Nations.
I am hopeful that stronger collaboration and cooperation, coupled with the positive momentum as we look towards Viet Nam’s upcoming membership in the Human Rights Council, will create a more inclusive society in Viet Nam, which upholds dignity, freedom, and justice for all.
Thank you! Xin cam on!