Vietnam has adopted policies and moves to ensure ethnic minorities exercise rights in every sphere of life, an Independent Expert on Minority issues said at the Human Rights Council’s 16th session on Mar.15.

Independent Expert Gay McDougall reported to the HRC in Geneva her visit to Vietnam last July, in which she gave high estimations to the country’s recognition of the ethnic minority population as an important constituent of its nation.

“There is evident political will to address the sizeable socio-economic gaps that exist between disadvantaged ethnic minorities and the majority Kinh population,” the expert said.

She referred to the establishment of dedicated Government bodies with responsibilities for minorities, including the Committee for Ethnic Affairs, as a positive practice that is replicated on provincial and district levels.

According to the Independent Expert, Vietnam has experienced impressive economic growth and prosperity, from which the majority population was benefiting. However, many ethnic minorities continue to experience disadvantages.

McDougall said she believed that access to quality and appropriate education was a fundamental gateway for minorities in Vietnam to escape poverty and develop.

She noted that bilingual instruction would significantly improve the education outcomes for minority children, expressing her belief that the Vietnamese Government should support bilingual education for them.

This would help ethnic minority children to preserve their cultural and linguistic identity and help them easily absorb knowledge from their studies in schools, the Independent Expert emphasised.

Ambassador Vu Dung, Head of the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the UN, World Trade Organisation and other international organisations in Geneva , said Independent Expert Gay McDougall’s visit to Vietnam was important, providing an opportunity for the Vietnamese Government and other international organisations to review what they have done for ethnic minorities.

Dung said McDougall’s report reflected both Vietnam ’s achievements and challenges in the minority affairs.

Vietnam has always given a high priority to ensure ethnic minorities’ rights, especially the rights to development, the ambassador affirmed.

“During the last decades, Vietnam has promulgated laws and policies and devised concrete national programmes, particularly those on poverty alleviation, basic health care and education… for the benefit of the ethnic minorities,” he stressed.

Dung affirmed that the country has worked to increase the opportunities on employment, education and training for ethnic minorities as well as preserving their unique cultures, languages, traditions and lifestyles.

“54 ethnic groups in Vietnam have been living together in peace and harmony since the gaining of independence,” Dung stressed.

“As an important and inseparable part of our nation, ethnic minorities deserve more attention and assistance to improve their lives and enjoy all civil, economic, political, cultural and social rights,” he said, stressing that the Vietnamese Government will seriously consider all recommendations made by the Independent Expert in her report.

“In a spirit of openness and cooperation, we wish to continue to work together with the Independent Expert on all related minorities issues in Vietnam . We also hope that this cooperation will create a favorable environment for the relations between Vietnam and UN Human rights mechanisms in the future,” the ambassador said./.