Vietnam has reiterated its commitment to ensuring and promoting human rights at the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, who leads the Vietnamese delegation, made the statement in his speech at the session’s high-level segment which opened on March 3. This is the first time Vietnam has attended the event as a member of the UN HCR.

The following is the full text of the speech

“Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Vietnamese delegation, I would like to express my high appreciation for the leadership of Mr. President and members of the Bureau. I am confident it will ensure the success of the High-Level Segment and the 25th Session as well as the success of the Human Rights Council throughout 2014.

Mr. President,
Peace, stability and development continue to be the essential elements that form a solid foundation for the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms. We are encouraged by the progress in the past years in the enhancement of awareness on human rights, legal and actual development to further promote and protect fundamental rights and freedoms. Yet, there remain challenges with far-reaching impacts on people’s life, safety and essential needs. Among them are poverty, food shortage, water pollution, natural disasters, pandemics and climate change, aggravated by the after-effect of the economic and financial downturn, social turmoil and instabilities in some areas of the world. Particularly, religious and ethnic conflicts, serious human rights violations and prolonged humanitarian crisis in some regions not only affect the guarantee of fundamental human rights and freedoms, but also regional peace and stability.

Such circumstances entail both challenges and opportunities for the international community, including the United Nations and its bodies, to meet expectations in the field of human rights. As the United Nations’ core body in human rights, the Human Rights Council has been playing a central role in promoting dialogue and cooperation among countries, and thus upholding human rights in practice. With a balanced agenda covering all civil, social, economic, political, cultural rights and a large number of resolutions adopted with consensus, the Human Rights Council has realized its political will in a growing effective manner. With such mechanisms as UPR and Special Procedures, the Human Rights Council has been able to adopt an objective and comprehensive approach, and finds suitable ways to support, promote and protect human rights in a constructive manner.

The world today also presents the Human Rights Council with a great opportunity to vindicate its unique position, prestige and relevance in dealing with human rights-related challenges. On the one hand, it is necessary for the Council to continue to promote new cross-regional initiatives. On the other hand, the Council needs to support countries’ national socio-economic development policies to better ensure the exercise of human rights in practice, especially in the basic domains of human life such as housing, clean water, education and health care. Special care should be given to children, women, the elderly and vulnerable groups. It is necessary to direct more support to the specific needs of developing countries, the late runners in this field, who face many difficulties in protecting and promoting human rights for their people. Technical cooperation and capacity building can be very helpful in such situations. More than ever before, the Human Rights Council is in a position to facilitate constructive dialogue and cooperation among countries, on the basis of respect and understanding, especially when it comes directly to serious violations or crises of human rights. Dialogue and cooperation remain the key for all Human Rights Council members, observers and other stakeholders to build an even more active and efficient Council without bias, politicization and division. This is exactly the approach that Vietnam strongly supports and wishes to promote at the Human Rights Council.

As a new member of the Human Rights Council, Vietnam is committed to playing its role with the highest level of responsibility, and will substantively contribute to the work of the Council. Viet Nam is a reliable partner who is willing to discuss candidly and work constructively on all the matters related to human rights, including those of high interest such as social security, sustainable development, social-economic-cultural rights, as well as the rights of vulnerable groups. Vietnam will also try to attract more attention from the Human Rights Council to the specific needs and circumstances of developing countries who face new challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation and the exhaustion of natural resources in their cause of human rights protection and promotion.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Vietnam pursues a consistent policy of protecting and promoting human rights, considering the well-being of each and every person as the goal and driving force of the national development process. This policy not only reflects the long-cherished aspiration of the Vietnamese people, but also connotes the universality of human rights. With such a policy, the State of Vietnam has been exerting considerable efforts in protecting and promoting human rights, as demonstrated in laws, policies and the actual accomplishments.

After nearly 30 years of Doi Moi , Vietnam has recorded many positive and outstanding achievements. The annual economic growth rate of 6-7 percent has created good conditions for the implementation of various programmes, social welfare policies and the improvement of people’s living standards. Vietnam has completed five out of eight MDGs ahead of schedule and appeared likely to complete all goals by 2015. Also, the UNDP Report on Human Development recognized Vietnam as a top ten performer in terms of income growth in the last 40 years. Vietnamese people are continuously updated on all aspects of the international life through the availability of nearly 1000 print newspapers, 1174 e-portals, 67 broadcasting stations, the world’s key broadcasting companies, and mostly the Internet. According to the International Telecommunication Union’s report, Vietnam ranks third and eighth in Southeast Asia and Asia , respectively, in terms of internet users. Anyone comes to Vietnam can see the diverse and vivid development of religious and belief activities. Almost all major religions of the world are present and living together peacefully. The number of dignitaries, followers, places of worship, publications, etc increases gradually. It can be said that the people of Vietnam has never been enjoying such a high living quality with all of their freedom thoroughly manifested in civil, cultural, economic, political and social domains.

In recent years, notwithstanding the domestic economic difficulties partly due to the global economic and financial context, Vietnam has not cut down any social security programmes but also enhances its social welfare policies in order to improve the life of the people, particularly women, children, ethnic minorities, people in remote and disadvantaged areas. In 2011-2012, over 1 billion USD was spent for health insurance subsidies for the poor and the ethnic minorities, free healthcare to children under 6 years old and tuition free exemption and lunch subsidies to the poor children and ethnic minority children. Especially, the adoption of the 2013 Constitution by the National Assembly on November 28th 2013 after receiving millions of public inputs, with 36 provisions in the Chapter II exclusively dedicated to human rights and the rights and obligations of Vietnamese citizens, is obviously a step forward toward the rule-of-law state and institutionalized human rights in conformity with the international norms and standards on human rights. This is also a testimony to the consistency of Vietnam ’s policy and the social consensus on human rights protection and promotion.

Over the past years, Vietnam has signed and acceded to most of the core international conventions on human rights, seriously delivered on the treaty obligation to present national periodic reports, conducted human rights dialogues with countries and partners. We have actively participated in regional efforts on human rights protection and promotion, including those of ASEAN. In particular, Vietnam attaches special importance to the work of the Human Rights Council and always actively participates in its activities. We have worked closely with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council in the past seven years. In February 2014, Vietnam presented the National Report under the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and had a productive dialogue at the UPR working group session on Vietnam . During the well-attended session, many constructive comments and recommendations were made. Vietnam is now seriously examining all received recommendations.

Vietnam was delighted and encouraged by the acknowledgement and high appreciation of the international community for our efforts, achievements and commitments to the promotion of human rights. Vietnam strongly believes its membership in the Human Rights Council for the term 2014-2016 reflects not only the appreciation and confidence from the United Nations members for Vietnam but this is also a precious opportunity for Vietnam to learn good practices and experience from the international community for the cause of Doi Moi and the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Mr. President,
All governments in this world share the common goal of better protecting and promoting human rights. Differences may prevail here and there regarding the perception and assessment of human rights due to diverse historical, cultural and development backgrounds. Nevertheless, since the adoption of the common understanding on the fundamental freedoms and human rights nearly 70 years ago, the international community has made enormous efforts to ensure freedoms, rights and other values of mankind. In this respect, the Human Rights Council has been entrusted with a vanguard mission in the protection and promotion of human rights in the world. Given its experience, lessons learnt and resolve, Vietnam stands ready to share and cooperate with all countries in contributing to this noble cause of the Human Rights Council.

I thank you.-VNA