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17th Annual Australia-Viet Nam Human Rights Dialogue
Viet Nam and Australia held their 17th Annual Human Rights Dialogue on 8 December 2021 by videoconference. The discussion was productive, frank and covered an extensive range of issues.
Viet Nam and Australia both recognised the significant impact of COVID-19 on their people and societies. Australia acknowledged Viet Nam’s work to respond to the pandemic, and was pleased to have been able to support Viet Nam’s vaccine rollout. Viet Nam noted its efforts toward an inclusive COVID-19 recovery that would leave no one behind, including groups experiencing vulnerability.
Viet Nam and Australia both 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 peoples, the LGBTI community, and persons with a disability. Viet Nam 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. Australia and Viet Nam discussed their respective approaches to the death penalty, with Australia reiterating its strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances for all people.
Viet Nam and Australia discussed efforts and achievements since the last Dialogue in protecting and promoting human rights, including economic, social and cultural, and civil and political rights. Australia underlined the importance of freedom of religion, assembly and association, as well as freedom of expression in traditional media and on social media, noting how governments can help to strengthen human rights online. Both sides noted the significant role played by the media, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to make a positive contribution to each society.
Viet Nam 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.
Viet Nam and Australia 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 Viet Nam’s successful term as 2020 Chair of ASEAN and membership 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. Viet Nam highlighted its progress to implement its UPR recommendations, including a voluntary mid-term report and welcomed Australia’s input into this process.
The parties discussed the delivery of 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 conduct in Viet Nam.
Natasha Smith, First Assistant Secretary Multilateral Policy Division of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Do Hung Viet, Assistant Foreign Minister and Director-General of Department of International Organizations of Viet Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, co-chaired the meeting. Australia and Viet Nam look forward to holding the 18th Human Rights Dialogue in person in Hanoi in 2022.