Interview: Vietnam achieves positive results in human rights implementation, challenges remain ahead: UN official

Interview: Vietnam achieves positive results in human rights implementation, challenges remain ahead: UN official

by Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh, Zhang Jianhua

HANOI, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- "Vietnam has taken measures to promote gender equality. It has adopted a national strategy for gender equality. It has also adopted domestic violence act. On the legislative side, Vietnam has taken a number of very positive steps," said United Nations Resident Coordinator Pratibha Mehta on Tuesday.

On the occasion of the Human Rights Day which falls on Dec. 10 annually, the UN official shared her views with Xinhua in an exclusive interview about the implementation of human rights and gender equality in Vietnam.

"We are seeing an increasing effort by Vietnam through interacting with human rights mechanisms, institutions, and its engagement to human rights tools. This is a very welcome sign," said Mehta.

"A lot of very good progresses have been made and Vietnam should be commended for taking very positive steps but still many more challenges remained and more attentions are needed to be paid. "

Vietnam has just endorsed its new Constitution, which provides equal rights to all men and women in Vietnam. In addition, it recently has submitted its second report to the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR). They are all assessment of the progresses that Vietnam has made in promoting and ensuring human rights, she said.

Vietnam was one of the leaders in terms of the number of women in parliament in the past four parliament sessions, but the number is decreasing, Mehta said, adding that currently women account for 24 percent of parliament members, which is still relatively high as compared with many other countries in the world.

"We are seeing there are more women coming in public life, including in judiciary and many other fields, but they are not in very senior decision making positions, so Vietnam will have to pay more attention," she said.

Talking about the challenges the country is facing in implementing human rights and gender equality, Mehta said "Vietnam is facing a challenge on how to enforce all its good national strategies and very good laws, as well as to build capacity of the institution to ensure that all these laws are enforced properly and effectively."

The UN official also pointed out that one of the challenges facing Vietnam lies in its own society. "It is the attitude that women are just to labor, to do domestic works needs to be changed. Women are equal partner in family development and international development."

"While changing attitude is obviously hard, changing stereotype image of woman is harder. Man has to step up to become part of gender equality movement," Mehta said.

"This is difficult and hard but we hope that young people in Vietnam will be taught human rights and gender equality in schools and colleges, and that will ultimately bring a social change with more emphasis on the importance of woman as a human beings, more emphasis on girls and their contributions," the UN official told Xinhua.

In an article released on the Human Rights Day, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has reaffirmed the country's consistent policy of protecting and promoting human rights to better ensure people's civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Minh said Vietnam's election to the UN Human Rights Council with a high vote of 184 approvals out of 193 is of great significance, manifesting the international community's welcome to the country's contribution to promoting human rights.