With a focus on civil and political rights, the Vietnam Programme seeks to support the development of a Vietnam governed according to the rule of law and human rights. By generating a space for discussion and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience, the Programme aims to contribute to a process driven by Vietnam itself and as reflected in their response to the Universal Periodic Review.
Since the introduction of Doi Moi in 1986, Vietnam has embarked on a period of economic, legal and social change. Most significantly, this period was marked by Vietnam’s accession to a number of key international treaties on human rights including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1982.
Vietnam has pledged its continual commitment to the improvement of civil and political rights in Vietnam through legal reform, cooperation on the international sphere and participation in the Universal Periodic Review.
The Vietnam Programme was established in March 2008 as the academic component of the official human rights dialogue between Norway and Vietnam. In line with recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review supported by the Vietnamese government, the Programme has narrowed its focus to three key areas:
- Human rights education and research
- Rule of law: criminal justice reform and legal aid
- Competence building and dialogue support
In cooperation with state, academic and international institutions, the Programme supports projects that facilitate a greater understanding of international human rights and a two way transfer of information between Vietnam and Norway.
Workshops and training, education and research both in and outside of Vietnam are core activities supported by the Programme.
Educational cooperation projects
The Vietnam Programme facilitates various educational cooperation projects between Vietnam and Norway. The Master Programme is one of the core projects in this field.
The Vietnam Programme supports the Master Program in Human Rights Law at Vietnam National University (VNU). Photo: Solveig M. Igesund/NCHR.
In November 2011, the Vietnam National University, VNU in Hanoi launched its Master of Laws on Human Rights, the first ever of its kind in Vietnam.
In cooperation with the Vietnam Programme and the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo, the School of Law at VNU developed at two year postgraduate programme with the aim of strengthening knowledge and capacity on international human rights in Vietnam.
Featuring lectures from both Vietnamese and international scholars, participating students are offered a thorough insight into the international human rights system.
The curriculum focuses on human rights theory, international law and practice including a close examination of international covenants and treaties, monitoring mechanisms and the preconditions under which rights function at international, regional and national levels. Students are also exposed to practical human rights work on a national and regional level.
For more information, see VNU website.
Rule of Law
This particular part of the Vietnam Programme contains two specific fields: Investigative Interviewing and Legal Aid.
In response to the Universal Periodic Review of 2009, the Vietnamese Government expressed its support for ensuring compliance of key pieces of national legislation, namely the 2003 Criminal Procedure Code and 1999 Penal Code with international human rights treaty commitments.
The Vietnamese criminal justice system faces a number of challenges in this respect. Among these lies the issue of implementation of the 2003 Criminal Procedure Code in a manner consistent with international human rights law. The Vietnam Programme has narrowed its focus to the areas described below.
The presumption of innocence is a key legal principal in preserving the rights of the accused throughout the criminal justice process. Thus, the Vietnam Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Public Security has identified the implementation of the presumption of innocence in the investigative and interrogation process as a key focus of Programme activities.
The role of the defence lawyer during the criminal justice process is essential to ensure adherence to domestic criminal procedure and international human rights law. In close connection with our partners, the Vietnam Programme endeavours to work towards improvement of the working relationship between Vietnamese defence lawyers and police.
Through a number of training seminars and workshops, the Vietnam Programme will facilitate a two way exchange of knowledge and experience between Vietnam and Norway in relation to the presumption of innocence and the role of the defense lawyer in practice.
Legal Aid in Vietnam is thoroughly integrated into the activities of mass organisations as well as bodies such as the UNDP who operate significant nationwide legal aid programs. In an effort to support ongoing initiatives, the Vietnam Programme has enlisted the assistance of Juss Buss, the Norwegian student run legal aid organisation of the University of Oslo.
The Vietnam Programme and Juss-Buss aids Clinical Legal Education at Ho Chi Minh City Law University and Hue University in their work with providing prisoners and workers legal education and legal aid.
Human Rights Research
The Vietnam Programme provides opportunities for Vietnamese researchers to conduct research on Human Rights through the yearly Visiting Scholar Programme.
The Vietnam Programme also provides scholarships to individual Master students in Norway.
Visiting Scholar Programme
Every year the Vietnam Programme hosts 2-3 visiting scholars from Vietnam. The visiting scholars meet with Scandinavia-based experts, participate in seminars, and provide the Vietnam Programme with advice and input. The visiting scholars come from universities, research institutes and CSOs in Vietnam.
The Visiting Scholar Programme is announced each year on the Vietnam Programme’s webpage.
Master Thesis Scholarship
The Vietnam Programme offers scholarships to individual Master students in Norway who are intending to complete a thesis.
The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage students to conduct research on Vietnam and human rights related issues and contribute to this existing gap in international human rights research.
The scholarship consists of a monthly stipend of NOK 4 000 for up to 12 months for a MA student writing the MA thesis. The successful candidate will get office space at NCHR (depending on availability), access to the Vietnam Programme’s contacts and partners and the opportunity to partake in Programme activities.
For more information about the scholarship and application procedure please see the announcement.