Vietnam, Australia hold 17th human rights dialogue

The 17th Vietnam – Australia Human Rights Dialogue was productive and frank, and covered an extensive range of issues, according to a statement issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on January 13.

Natasha Smith, First Assistant Secretary Multilateral Policy Division of the DFAT and Do Hung Viet, Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organisations co-chaired the meeting, which took place via a videoconference on December 8, 2021. 

The statement said Vietnam and Australia both recognised the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their people and societies.

The Australian side acknowledged Vietnam’s work to respond to the pandemic, and was pleased to have been able to support Vietnam’s vaccine rollout.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese side noted its efforts toward an inclusive post-pandemic recovery that would leave no one behind, including vulnerable groups. 

Both sides provided updates on their work to promote and protect human rights. They discussed approaches to human rights, updates on rule of law and legal reform policies to protect the rights of women and children, Indigenous Australians and Vietnamese ethnic minority people, the LGBT community, and persons with a disability. 

Vietnam highlighted progress in legal reforms, including the adoption of human rights-related legislation, the implementation of ratified international human rights instruments, and noted its plans to study the ratification of additional international human rights instruments.

The two sides discussed efforts and achievements since the last Dialogue in protecting and promoting human rights, including economic, social and cultural, and civil and political rights. 

Australian delegates underlined the importance of freedom of religion, assembly and association, as well as freedom of expression in traditional media and on social media. 

Both sides noted the significant role played by the media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other relevant stakeholders in making positive contribution to each society.

The Vietnamese side emphasised the importance of balancing rights of individuals and the community, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increase in online misinformation and cyber security threats. 

Vietnam noted the importance of balancing the rights of individuals and the community, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increase in online misinformation and cyber security threats. Australia noted that key to its public health response was upholding laws that protected and fulfilled its human rights obligations.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together to ensure human rights obligations are met under domestic legislation, as well as investigate areas for multilateral and regional cooperation. 

Australia welcomed Vietnam’s successful term as 2020 Chair of ASEAN and role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2020-2021.

Australia noted that its Third Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council took place in 2021. Vietnam highlighted its progress to implement its UPR recommendations, including a voluntary mid-term report and welcomed Australia’s input into this process

They discussed the Australian Government-funded technical assistance, including support from the Australian Human Rights Commission to integrate human rights into all levels of public education and advance responsible business activities in Vietnam. 

Australia and Vietnam look forward to holding the 18th Human Rights Dialogue in person in Hanoi in 2022.