Vietnamese representatives are joining nearly 1,000 lawyers and legal activists from all over the world at the ongoing 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in Brussels, Belgium .

Running from April 15-19, the event is a chance for participants to share experiences and discuss the formation of international constitutions. The ultimate aim is to foster solidarity to protect justice, and help people whose rights are violated, including war victims.

Representatives from the Vietnam Lawyers Association (VLA) and the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) discussed various topics, including the right to peace and the rights of nations.

Among other issues, the congress focused on the violations of international law, working rights, the struggle against racial discrimination, the fight for gender equality and the situation in Palestine .

Addressing the opening session, President of the VAVA Nguyen Van Rinh said during the war in Vietnam , the US sprayed nearly 80 million litres of toxic chemicals to the south of Vietnam , 61 percent of which was Agent Orange laced with 366 kg of dioxin.

Nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the deadly poison, with over 3 million of them dying or painfully struggling from its serious effects, he noted.

Rinh called on the participants to help Agent Orange/Dioxin (AO) victims in Vietnam by putting pressure on the international community to identify those responsible for damaging the lives of millions of Vietnamese people, and punishing them for their crimes.

“I would like to call on people around the world to unite against the chemical warfare and support Vietnamese AO victims, helping them integrate to the community in Vietnam and the world,” Rinh said.

Meanwhile, IADL President Jeanne Mirer said the congress is a great opportunity to establish an international network able to assist members in some countries, such as Turkey , Colombia and the Philippines , where lawyers face high risks of violence.

She lauded Vietnam ’s organisation of activities on the sidelines of the congress, such as a conference on the AO disaster in Vietnam , a protest against US chemical companies and a call on the international community and the IADL to conduct legal procedures against violators of human rights.

Established in 1946 in Paris, the IADL is a non-governmental organisation with consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). IADL members have challenged groups and individuals who have threatened human rights and international peace and security and violated international law.-VNA