March 02, 2023
Oxfam wishes to congratulate the Government of Vietnam for being elected for the second time by the United Nations General Assembly to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It is the only member from Southeast Asia among the 14 members of the UNHRC.
By standing as a candidate, the Vietnamese government shows its efforts to protect human rights, demonstrating the improvement of living conditions in Vietnam. Being elected is a recognition of Vietnam's position on the international stage. These achievements have been accomplished through the implementation of numerous policies and programs aimed at improving the livelihood and well-being of all citizens, but particularly the poor and disadvantaged groups.
Contributing to these achievements are the efforts of multiple stakeholders, including the state, non state actors/nonprofits, and the private sector. Vietnam’s swift responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and its post-pandemic resilient and impressive rebound provides a good example of such collaborations, enabling timely citizen feedback to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Covid-19 policies, while inviting social innovations (such as Rice ATMs, SOS Map or WiShare platform) to emerge.
These all demonstrate that sustainable improvements in the well-being of every person are driven by the interactions of active citizens, responsible private enterprises and accountable, transparent governance that puts people at the heart of development processes.
Vietnam’s election to the Human Rights Council demonstrates its commitment to human rights, proven by its efforts to prepare for its candidacy, including the voluntary mid-term Universal Periodic Review of its international human rights commitments.
With its message of "Mutual Respect, Dialogue and Cooperation. Ensuring All Human Rights, for all", Vietnam will be able to utilize its tenure to address pervasive inequalities and discrimination that is present in every society everywhere. For example, Vietnam could encourage and promote good practices in human rights reporting conducted by the multi-stakeholder Partnership and Cooperation for Development (PC4D), which includes non-state actors and private enterprises. All these initiatives will contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ensure a world where equality in dignity and rights is a reality for all people.
On behalf of Oxfam in Vietnam, a trusted development partner of the Government of Vietnam over the past decades, I wish to echo other international think tanks, research institutes and development partners to commend the Government of Vietnam, enterprises, social organizations, and the people for Vietnam’s resilient and impressive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam’s success in recovering from the pandemic has been noted internationally, with the Nikkei Covid-19 Recovery Index ranking Vietnam 8th globally and 2nd in ASEAN, a well-deserved accolade.
At the height of the pandemic, Vietnam experienced a severe economic contraction, and unprecedented disruption to people’s lives due to the lockdowns to curb Covid-19 infections. When the Delta variant spread rapidly throughout the country, the Government was confronted with the problem of mounting a massive vaccination campaign at a time when global vaccine distribution was highly unequal.
Building on its experience dealing with other outbreaks and investments in primary healthcare, Vietnam was able to adopt an adaptive approach to the pandemic, which, coupled with a diversified and equitable vaccination policy, allowing for rapid resumption of socio-economic activities, early reopening of international borders, and comprehensive recovery.
In particular, Oxfam would like to commend the Government of Vietnam for adopting measures, including Resolution 11/NQ-CP, that expanded social welfare protections to intentionally support populations most severely impacted by the pandemic such as low-paid and migrant workers.
Enterprises also demonstrated their capacity for resilience and creativity to overcome the challenges of the pandemic, and these attributes have continued today as they embrace Vietnam’s rapid digital transformation and venture into e-commerce, fintech, or green technologies.
This flexibility has increased their integration into higher-value global production chains and shifted them towards new business models that promise financial viability and positive social impacts toward a greener, more inclusive and prosperous future for Vietnam.
Although Vietnam’s remarkable success has been widely praised, the pandemic has presented Vietnam and many other countries with unprecedented rising inequality. This is highlighted in Oxfam’s recently published Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRII) Index report. This report ranks 161 governments worldwide on their efforts to reduce inequality in three key policy areas: Public services (health, education and social protection), Progressive taxation and Labour rights. The report reveals that following the pandemic, many of governments failed to implement policies to mitigate inequality, cutting budgets in areas such as education, health and social protection.
However, the report also highlights countries that have risen up the index by implementing effective policies for tackling inequality, such as enhanced welfare systems and the introduction of a minimum living wage. This affirms that inequality is not inevitable but rather a result of policy choices. Thus, Oxfam recommends that the Government of Vietnam continues to design and implement policies that specifically address and promote multidimensional equality, such as strengthening a progressive tax system, increasing access to and coverage of quality public services for all, and working towards universal social protection coverage.
Crucially, the future development model and policies must address gender inequalities in labor policy and practice. All of this is necessary to sustain the medium-term Covid-19 inclusive recovery, catalyze ideas for a new growth model for Vietnam toward fulfilling the 2030 Agenda of Leaving No One Behind and achieving high-income country status by 2045.
In addition to meeting more sophisticated domestic demands with a more digitalized economy in retail, health, education, or more sustainable tourism industry, Vietnam’s growth will need to continue leveraging on higher-value, smart and greener manufacturing, while addressing emerging contexts and future demands.
This will require greater investments in newer and greener technologies and infrastructure, and a highly skilled workforce with increased labor productivity. Finally, the economy will need to become intentionally greener and more sustainable to tackle the global climate crisis, with greater and more urgent investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies while ensuring social inclusiveness.
Oxfam understands that Vietnam is well-positioned to take advantage of digitalization and the green energy revolution, and the country must ensure that these transitions are just, equitable, and sustainable for both human society and the environment.
The hustle and bustle capital city was silenced during the Covid-19 pandemic. But as soon as restrictions were lifted and international borders were open, Hanoi witnessed tourists returning, businesses thriving, and public spaces filling with creative ideas and exhibitions. The city has hosted the 31st Southeast Asian Games and numerous foreign dignitaries, and the National Assembly has sat in deliberations on important laws and statutes.
Apart from new buildings and spaces, new infrastructures, such as the two metro lines and ring roads resumed or completed, will transform the city’s “urbanscape” and position Hanoi as a major regional and global center. As a member of UNESCO’s creative city network, Hanoi’s creative life has rebounded progressively with arts communities, spaces, and grassroots initiatives such as Hanoi’s Liveable City. Being home to the largest research and education institutions in Vietnam, Hanoi will continue to be the hub for innovation, research, and development in Vietnam and the region.
The resilience and creativity of the city mirror the optimism of the Vietnamese people. Looking at Hanoi, we can see how Vietnam is determined to charter a brighter future and aspires for a growth model where the people and the environment come first. Oxfam will continue to work and support Hanoi and Vietnam toward this vision. This human economy model, as Oxfam advocates for, strives to ensure that everyone, not just a few, will benefit from Vietnam’s achievements and progress in Hanoi and throughout the nation.
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