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Viet Nam: UN expert commends economic development, but urges action to ensure participation and green economy

15 November 2023

HANOI (15 November 2023) – Viet Nam’s efforts to achieve economic development and reduce poverty deserve recognition, but the country should do more to facilitate the participation of people in economic, political, social and cultural development, a UN expert said today.

At the end of a 10-day visit to the country, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development Surya Deva, commended efforts by the Government of Viet Nam to reduce poverty, create jobs and expand social protection coverage.

“Despite the negative impacts of the COVID pandemic and conflicts, Viet Nam has achieved impressive progress in reducing multi-dimensional poverty,” Deva said. “The country is also making advancements in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and reducing emissions to meet the net zero commitment by 2050,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur highlighted three ongoing challenges: processes, participation and planet. The Government of Viet Nam should improve existing approval processes of projects, including those funded by development partners and international NGOs, aimed at implementing the SDGs to ensure that  people in need in different provinces are benefiting further.

“I am concerned that due to limited civic space, active, free and meaningful participation of people in decision-making may be difficult. Groups in marginalised or vulnerable situations such as children, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities face additional barriers to participation in decisions affecting them. Moreover, despite the Government’s efforts, the development of remote and mountainous areas, where most ethnic minorities live, is lagging behind, leading to continued poverty, unemployment and limited access to public services,” the UN expert said.

Commenting on Viet Nam’s vulnerability to climate change, the Special Rapporteur underscored the need for the Government, UN agencies, development partners, businesses and NGOs to work together to avert a looming crisis and ensure sustainable development.  

“To ensure sustainable development, the Government would need to do more to respond to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, environmental pollution and biodiversity loss. Genuinely participatory approaches to development – which integrate principles of intersectionality, intergenerational equity, fair distribution and self-determination – should be adopted to achieve a just transition to a green economy. Moreover, in order to be just, NGOs and human rights defenders should be central to such a transition.”

The Special Rapporteur’s detailed report on his visit and recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2024.


See full statement in Vietnamese here.

Mr. Surya Deva took up the role of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development on 1 May 2023. Deva is a Professor at the Macquarie Law School and Director of the Centre for Environmental Law at Macquarie University, Australia. He conducts research in the areas of business and human rights, comparative constitutional law, international human rights law, sustainable development, climate change, and gender equality. Deva served as a member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (2016-22). He has advised UN agencies, governments, national human rights institutions, multinational corporations, trade unions and civil society organisations on issues related to business and human rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page - Viet Nam


For more information and media requests please contact: Antoanela Pavlova ([email protected]) or [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts; see news related to the Special Rapporteur on the right to development on @UNSRdevelopment

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