Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh delivered a speech affirming the Vietnamese Government’s consistent policy of ensuring human rights at the High-level Segment of the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 25.

Following is the full text of his speech.

Mr. President,

Let me first express the Vietnamese Delegation’s appreciation to you and the Bureau for your contributions to the work of the Council. I am confident that under your stewardship, this 22 nd Session of the Council will be crowned with success. Please rest assured of our full cooperation and support. I would like to commend the leadership of the High Commissioner and dedication of her staff in accomplishing the tasks.

Mr. President,

We are gathering here at an auspicious moment, as we celebrate the 65 th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Sixty-five years have passed since the world came to the shared understanding of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as reflected in the Universal Declaration and the many treaties that followed.

Over these years, we have made unprecedented progress in our joint efforts to respect and promote human value and dignity, and human rights have topped the development agenda of many countries and the international community. Yet, formidable challenges remain in all corners of the world. Current global economic difficulties, including the public debt crisis, unemployment, monetary austerity and budget cuts, are having adverse impacts on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of people in most countries. Poverty, food security, malnutrition, epidemic, illiteracy and environmental degradation continue to take their toll, first and foremost on women, children, the poor, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrants and minority groups.

Furthermore, economic, political and social instability, civil wars, religious and ethnic conflicts, discrimination, intolerance, increasing violence and hatred are threatening the people’s rights and fundamental freedoms and undermining peace, security and development in each region and the world. Vietnam welcomes and supports national and international efforts aimed at early reaching political solutions to end violence and uphold international human rights norms, especially the right to life, to peace and security. We once again emphasize that this is the primary responsibility of the national governments concerned.

Mr. President,

Since its establishment seven years ago, as one of the three major pillars of the United Nations, the Human Rights Council has been an effective mechanism to protect and promote human rights around the world. The Council has adopted a holistic and balanced approach towards all human rights, including both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the specific rights of vulnerable groups, and thus helped deepen public awareness of human rights. The culture of dialogue, cooperation and consensus has solidly developed within the Council. The number of resolutions adopted by consensus has increased and their implementation becomes more effective. Vietnam particularly values the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which has proven to be an effective avenue for the sharing of information and experience, promotion of mutual understanding, and for the better protection and promotion of human rights.

Vietnam believes that for it to become the core UN body in the field of human rights, the Council needs to expand its resources, raise its effectiveness and achieve proper solutions to the multi-dimensional challenges of human rights that have greatly attracted people’s interest. The Human Rights Council should be a forum that genuinely fosters cooperation and dialogue among Member States and promotes a balanced and holistic approach based on the principle of universality, transparency, objectivity, and impartiality in all of its activities, as stated in GA Resolution 60/251 and the 2011 outcomes of the Council review process. I take this opportunity to reiterate Vietnam ’s commitment to actively working with and contributing to the common efforts of the Council and all Member States .

Mr. President,

Vietnam’s consistent policy is to respect and ensure human rights in accordance with international norms. It is enshrined in our Constitution that “political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights are respected and protected by the Constitution and the law”. This policy is based on our understanding that human rights are universal values forged through many generations and takes root in our millennium-long history and culture. Vietnam ’s respect for human rights also derives from the cherished aspiration of a nation that was deprived of their fundamental rights under colonial rule.

Over the past years, human rights and fundamental freedoms have been better ensured in Vietnam . Poverty has been reduced from 14.2percent in 2010 to 12.4percent in 2012. Social welfare and access to healthcare have been improved. Vietnam has achieved many Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule. Civil and political rights have also been better observed by ensuring the people’s effective exercise of their right to nomination and election as well as by strengthening the role of elected bodies in the political system. The right to freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of the press have been better guaranteed and duly implemented in practice, which is evident in the rapid development of the media in Vietnam . Religions and beliefs continue to grow strongly, including major world religions, as well as home-grown religions and beliefs.

In pursuit of the foreign policy of independence and sovereignty, active and comprehensive international integration, Vietnam has been engaging in and making constructive and responsible contributions to international affairs, including in the field of human rights. Vietnam is a party to most important human rights treaties and is taking final steps to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to accede to the Convention against Torture. As we place special importance on the UPR process, we accepted and have been implementing accepted recommendations of the first cycle of UPR. Vietnam has also strengthened dialogues with Special Procedures. Since July 2010, we have received four Special Procedures on minority issues, extreme poverty, the effects of foreign debt, and the right to health. Vietnam will in the near future receive the Special Procedures on the rights to education, food, and culture and continue to consider receiving other Special Procedures as committed.
Vietnam has also been expanding bilateral cooperation and dialogue on human rights with a number of countries to share information and experience for better human rights protection. We have annual human rights dialogues with many countries around the world. Within the ASEAN framework, we have been part of the efforts to promote human rights cooperation, particularly the establishment and operationalization of the ASEAN Inter-Government Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the development of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, which was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh last November.

That said, Vietnam is still a developing country facing the lingering impacts of wars, the current effects of economic difficulties and striving to build a State ruled by law. Vietnam , therefore, has to deal with many challenges in the field of human rights and is poised to work even harder in order to protect people’s economic, social, civil and political rights.

Mr. President,

Wishing to make greater contributions to the joint efforts of the Council and the international community in promoting and better protecting human rights, the Vietnamese Government has presented its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council for the term of 2014-2016. Vietnam has presented its voluntary pledges as required by the GA Resolution 60/251. Vietnam shares the broad view that first-time candidates with the capacity to contribute to the work of the Council, like Vietnam , should be offered the opportunity to be member of the Council. Vietnam is committed to active, constructive and responsible participation in the work of the Council with the aim of enhancing its effectiveness, transparency, impartiality, balance, and promoting dialogues and cooperation among Member States on human rights./.