On 10 March 2023, the ICJ submitted preliminary comments and recommendations to the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam, indicating that there has been a lack of inclusive participation in developing the National Action Plan on Policy and Law Improvement to Promote Responsible Business Practices in Vietnam (2023-2027) (‘draft NAP’). In addition, the plan has failed to fully incorporate the existing international human rights law framework, selling short individuals and communities adversely affected by the conduct of business activities.
The ICJ has therefore recommended ways to strengthen the content and make the process for the draft more inclusive.
The Ministry of Justice issued the Draft NAP for public consultations between 20 February 2023 and 10 March 2023, an unduly short timeframe for meaningful participation of representative stakeholders. After this consultation, the Draft will be sent to the prime minister for his consideration.
“As it stands, the draft NAP falls short of expectations and international commitments to have an effective instrument that contributes to the protect human rights and responsible business conduct in Vietnam,” said Carlos Lopez, Senior Legal Adviser of the International Commission of Jurists. “One key concern in relation to the current draft NAP is that it fails to focus on the specific challenges faced by Vietnam in relation to business-related human rights abuse.”
In the letter, the ICJ says it is critical that Vietnam also take full account of its international human rights law treaty obligations, in its identification of gaps and actions to fill those gaps.
Key recommendations to Vietnam include:
— Ensuring that the NAP is developed and implemented through an inclusive and transparent process;
— Using the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘UNGPs’) and international human rights treaty law as the authoritative framework; and
— Identifying and responding to specific challenges faced by Vietnam to ensure an acceptable level of responsible business practice.
These include taking measures to redress the crackdowns on human rights defenders and civil society actors, forced eviction and land ownership, the lack of genuine opportunities for the affected communities to take part in the decision-making processes, and undue restrictions on trade unions.
Since adopting the UNGPs more than a decade ago, National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights have been adopted by several countries around the world, setting out commitments and priorities to effectively tackle adverse human rights impacts of business activities.
Vietnam is among the countries in Asia in the process of developing a NAP. In recent years, the Ministry of Justice reportedly coordinated with ministries, branches, and localities to conduct research, reviews, and consultation workshops to develop the draft NAP.
Immediate priority areas that were identified by the current draft NAP include (i) selective investment attraction; (ii) environmental protection; (iii) labor; (iv) protecting the rights of vulnerable groups; and (v) protection of consumer rights. This draft NAP is currently under consultation.
The ICJ’s submission to the Ministry of Justice/Vietnam can be downloaded here
Carlos Lopez, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, e: carlos.lopez(a)icj.org
Sanhawan Srisod, ICJ Associate International Legal Adviser, e: firstname.lastname@example.orgAdvocacyNon-legal submissionsWeb stories