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Viet Nam: UN expert to explore human rights implications of mounting external debt and trade deficit

GENEVA (18 March 2011) – UN Independent Expert Cephas Lumina will visit Viet Nam from 21-29 March 2011 to assess the impact of the country’s debt burden on the realization of human rights and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He will also explore the impact of the global economic downturn on Viet Nam’s debt burden, human rights and MDGs.

“In the context of mounting external debt, where Viet Nam is expected to repay more than US$1 billion of its foreign debt, including interest, this year”, Mr. Lumina said, “it is important to address the effects of the growing debt burden on the full enjoyment of human rights and the attainment of the MDGs in the country.”

Stressing the significance of his visit, Mr. Lumina adverted to recent reports on the growth of Vietnam’s foreign debt, which is currently estimated at US$29 billion and projected to be more than 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year.

During his official visit, the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the effect of foreign debt on human rights will meet with Government officials from various ministries and agencies, as well as development partners, civil society representatives and academics.

A press conference on the preliminary conclusions of the visit will be held on Tuesday, 29 March at 14:00 at the United Nations country office, 25-29 Phan Boi Chau, Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

Mr. Lumina is a Zambian lawyer who holds a PhD in international law/human rights. He was appointed ‘Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights’ by the Human Rights Council in 2008. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. The mandate of the Independent Expert covers all countries.

Learn more about the mandate of the Independent Expert, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/development/debt/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Viet Nam: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/VNIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Jamshid Gaziyev (Tel: + 41 797 520 484; e-mail: ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org), or Louise Nylin (Tel: +844 394 21495 ext: 168; e-mail: Louise.Nylin@one.un.org)