UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam Pratibha Mehta has highly valued Vietnam’s achievements in protecting and ensuring human rights over the past years.

In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency, she congratulated Vietnam on completing the second cycle of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on February 5 in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to her, the UPR is a very important instrument for any country, including Vietnam, to have an inclusive dialogue on human rights and the protection of human rights in the country.

The UN representative said in the second UPR, Vietnam expanded its reporting. In addition to the State’s report, there was also a stakeholder report which was prepared by civil society organisations and the coalition of civil society organisations.

The process in the second round of the UPR was broader than in the first, she said, affirming that this success proved Vietnam’s great efforts.

The Vietnamese Government will go back to Geneva in June to discuss the recommendations. From now to then, there will be many meetings and consultations in Vietnam on this issue, she stated.

“Vietnam has done quite well on gender equality and women’s rights. I believe out of the 227 recommendations that have been proposed at the second UPR, more than a dozen are related to women’s rights and the status of women,” she said.

She cited the increase in the length of maternal leave for women and a revision of the law to have the retirement age, at least for high professional women, equal to men, as very positive steps that Vietnam has taken to promote gender equality.

She went on to say that Vietnam is doing exceeding well in women’s participation in politics and their representation in the National Assembly and senior political positions, but their numbers have declined over time.

“It is very important for Vietnam to have some kind of a quota system to promote women’s political participation. And it is the time now to work towards it, because the election will be in 2016, so there are two more years left to prepare women leaders, to promote the leadership quality and to have a very conscious attempt to increase the number of women in the parliament,” she said.

Regarding children’s rights, the UN official noted that Vietnam has done quite well in protecting the rights of children, especially when it joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Vietnam is a middle-income country with a very high level of stunting among children, she said, noting that it is quite high in ethnic minority, remote and rural areas, and this is a real cause of concern.

“Therefore, a lot more needs to be done to address the issue of malnutrition and child stunting in Vietnam,” she confirmed.
In order to better guarantee human rights, the official said Vietnam needs to pay more attention to education and information sharing to raise public awareness of human rights.
The Government should continue to perfect the legal system to realise commitments to legal frameworks and international institutions on human rights to which Vietnam is a member, she added.

The protection of human rights must continue involving all administrations and civil society organisations, she concluded.-VNA