While applauding the development gains made by Viet Nam, an independent United Nations human rights expert has stressed the need for the South-East Asian nation to ensure a human rights-based approach in addressing social and economic challenges.
“To fully ensure that principle, it is important that national economic and social policies and programmes are firmly anchored in a human rights-based framework that underscored participation, transparency and accountability,” Cephas Lumina said yesterday at the end of his first mission to Viet Nam.
“The citizens of Viet Nam are not only the main beneficiaries of the Government’s economic and social development programmes,” he said in a statement delivered in Hanoi, “they are also the most important stakeholders in the country’s development.”
Mr. Lumina, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, commended the Government on the “remarkable” progress it has achieved. Viet Nam has achieved three out of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) well ahead of schedule – halving the number of its poor, ensuring gender equality and making primary education available to all.
“With the demonstrated commitment of the Government and the continued support of its development partners, I believe that Viet Nam can achieve the remaining MDGs by the target date,” he stated, referring to the globally agreed deadline of 2015.
In the last decade, Viet Nam’s per capita income has risen from $390 in 2000 to $1,200 in 2010, and more than seven million jobs have been created. Viet Nam’s impressive success in socio-economic development is evidenced by its recent attainment of lower middle-income status.
“These achievements bear testimony to the political will of the Government to improve the socio-economic conditions of its people,” said Mr. Lumina, while adding that despite this commendable progress, the country faces a number of challenges, including those linked to its “lower middle-income” status.
He underscored that Viet Nam’s reliance on official development assistance (ODA) “is increasingly challenged by the decline of ODA at the global level and by the impact of the global economic downturn.”
On the sustainability of the country’s foreign debt and its effect on the MDGs, Mr. Lumina pointed out that the budget and trade deficits required urgent attention to ensure that social protection measures were not affected.
The expert, who reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity, also warned that climate change posed a serious challenge to the country’s development efforts, given that the region is prone to environmental hazards and is vulnerable to sea-level rise.