Civil Society Workshop in Vietnam
On 12-14 January 2015, a group of 20 Vietnamese NGOs organised a workshop in Hanoi on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and implementation mechanisms. The workshop was supported by the Vietnam Programme at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.
Participants and organisers of the workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: GPAR/Vietnam Programme
The workshop was initiated by GPAR, which is a network of 20 Vietnamese NGOs in Vietnam. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the ASEAN human rights mechanisms, the progress of human rights in the region and how Vietnamese stakeholders should engage is such processes.
Vietnam's membership in the Human Rights Council
On 12 November 2013, the UN General Assembly elected Vietnam as a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2014.
Since then, the engagement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Vietnam has become more visible. However, according to the organisers of the workshop, the capacity of Vietnamese civil society still needs to be strengthened in order for CSOs to become constructive and active partners with the state in the area of human rights.
The workshop received over 40 participants from NGOs, academic institutions, and youth groups. Some government officials in human rights related offices also sent their representatives to participate.
The workshop was conducted by the well-known human rights expert in the region, Professor Sriprapha Petcharamesree from Mahidol University in Bangkok. Professor Petcharamesree was the first Thai representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and Chair of the Thai Working Group.
The content of the workshop included the ASEAN human rights mechanisms, the ASEAN human rights declarations, the conduct of the AICHR and the Working Groups, National Human Rights Institutions, as well as the roles and activities of civil societies.
Implementation of human rights
The participants were highly interested in debates on the universality of human rights, regional standards, and how to implement these standards at the domestic level. They also discussed how civil society can contribute in establishing a National human rights institution in Vietnam, drawing on experiences from the region.