Australia and Viet Nam held their 16th Annual Human Rights Dialogue in Canberra on 29 August 2019. Discussions were productive, frank and covered an extensive range of issues.
The close strategic partnership between the two countries, further strengthened by the recent official visit to Viet Nam by Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, was reflected in the openness and constructiveness of the Dialogue.
Both countries outlined their goals and strategies to give fuller effect to human rights within their national contexts, for the betterment of their people and societies. They discussed respective approaches, efforts and achievements in both countries since the last Dialogue in protecting and promoting human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights, labour rights, rights of vulnerable groups, and freedom of religion, expression, association and assembly. Both sides noted the important roles played by the media, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to make a positive contribution to each society.
Australia and Viet Nam discussed their respective approaches to the death penalty. The two sides highlighted the importance of balancing national security, public safety and the protection of human rights in line with their respective obligations under treaties to which they are parties. Australia and Viet Nam agreed to consider possible collaboration in relation to ensuring the compatibility of new legislation with human rights obligations. Australia and Vietnam exchanged information on the implementation of relevant legislation.
Australia provided updates on its Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Australia outlined its approaches to respond to the finding of these Royal Commissions.
Viet Nam provided an update on its legal reform process, particularly recent adoption of new legislation related to human rights and its plans to revise its Labour Code, as it works to implement all International Labour Organisation conventions it had ratified.
Australia provided an update on its membership of the Human Rights Council. Australia also provided an update on preparations for Australia’s Third Cycle Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in 2020. Viet Nam provided an update on its plans to implement recommendations received during its Universal Periodic Review in January 2019. Viet Nam outlined priorities for its term on the UN Security Council in 2020-21 and as ASEAN Chair in 2020, including initiatives on climate change and the rights of vulnerable groups.
Australia and Viet Nam discussed implementation of Australian Government-funded technical assistance programs, including:
- Support for the development of a Masters of Human Rights Law course at Viet Nam National University’s School of Law, by Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights, and
- Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) assistance to build human rights education capacity in Viet Nam, through:
- a partnership with the Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics to support organisations implementing the decision by Viet Nam’s Prime Minister to integrate human rights education at all levels of the education system; and
- a partnership with Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to increase the human rights awareness of current and future business leaders. Both sides agreed to exchange further information intersessionally to help respond to shared human rights priorities, including managing corrective and prison services, human trafficking and the UN’s Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The Vietnamese delegation undertook a program of separate meetings on 27 and 28 August, including with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General’s Department.
Australia and Viet Nam agreed that discussions had been valuable and underlined their commitment to continual improvement and cooperation on human rights issues. The 17th Human Rights Dialogue will be held in Hanoi in 2020.