'I am Sure Vietnam will Continue to Share Values Relating to the Rights of Women and Children'

“For Vietnam, the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages especially as they relate to women and children… Vietnam has much to share and I am hoping that they continue to focus on the rights of women and children,” said Rad Kivette - CEO of VinaCapital Foundation, in an interview with VietnamTimes.

The 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly was held in New York, the USA, on October 11, in which it elected 14 countries to be members of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 tenure, including Vietnam.

Rad Kivette - CEO of VinaCapital Foundation (Photo: VinaCapital Foundation)

1. How do you assess Vietnam’s successful election?

I am so proud that Vietnam has been elected to another 2 year seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council- the second time in eight years. It is clear that the UN membership as well as the rest of the world understand and appreciate what I witness every day as I work nationwide in Vietnam.

Vietnam's commitment to human rights, their ability to lead on the world's stage and their strong belief in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone leaves no one behind.

2. What should Vietnam focus on well perform its role as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council?

Vietnam should focus on and continue to promote respect for the protection of all human rights and basic freedoms. Vietnam and the council will also address situations in member states who violate human rights, especially serious chronic violations, and make recommendations to mitigate these breaches.

Personally I hope Vietnam uses its influence to promote the human rights agenda. Vietnam's focus has been on the foundational issues that lie at the heart of so many of the thirty articles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights underpinned by appreciation and respect for diversity, the inclusion of all Vietnamese in the phenomenal economic growth of the country, rapid poverty reduction and the equal protection of all citizens.

Over the last 20 years in Vietnam I have witnessed impressive progress in women's rights, gender equity and the basic rights of children. A cursory review of Vietnamese history reveals a longstanding respect, encouragement and appreciation for women's involvement at all levels of life. Children's rights and welfare have always been cultural bedrock for Vietnam. I am hoping that they continue to focus on the rights of women and children especially in parts of the world that need leadership and understanding in these areas.

3. What advantages and disadvantages does Vietnam have in protecting human rights, especially for women and children?

Vietnam has real advantages in a number of historical and contemporary contexts relative to women. For example- women's historical ability to earn respect in areas usually reserved for men in other countries, women's reserved and patient approach to improving their human rights, their deep devotion to family and enormous capacity to work hard and smart handling family and employment 24/7 without any complaints.

Historically, Vietnam is the only country I know of in the world that has a long, star studded history of female warriors, starting with Au Co who gave birth the Hung Kings. Hai Ba Trung sisters, the two powerful female generals of the rebellion against the Han Chinese. Ba Trieu, fighting the Mongols 2 thousand years ago said, "I'd like to ride storms, kill orcas in the open sea, drive out the aggressors, reconquer the country, undo the ties of serfdom, and never bend my back to be the concubine of whatever man."

Inclusion of women at the decision-making tables is not a new idea for Vietnam at all. In the late 1970's about 44% of the National Assembly members were women. This has dropped to about 30.26% in Vietnam currently but is on the increase. Vietnam has higher percentage of women in legislator bodies, compared to other regions, namely Asian countries (18%), the world (24%), the USA (27%, Senate and House of Representatives). Vietnam has the advantages in encouraging women to

Another advantage that Vietnam has in protecting human rights is that 85% of the population is one ethnic group, Kinh. A homogeneous population is always a valuable advantage in creating a durable national identity. Common cultures share values naturally, agree on definitions of 'rights' and 'structure trust' parameters of both leadership as well as those being governed.

However, this highlights the one disadvantage - the 15% of the population that comprise 53 different ethnic groups. The government protects and seeks to improve the lives of the ethnic people and has specific laws and programs in place to do so.

4. How do you assess Vietnam's efforts in protecting the rights of women and children in recent years?

I am very positive about Vietnam's past and present performance in areas related to the rights of women and children or human rights in general.

I know first hand today, and have witnessed for 20 some years, that the government of Vietnam in every province with Hanoi central government leadership is committed to preserving the peace, leaving no child behind, protecting and increasing the rights of women and other genders and creating a level playing field for all to enjoy clearly defined freedoms and their human rights as the middle class grows and Vietnam becomes a upper-income country.

I work everyday side by side with various government ministries across Vietnam and I see the exercise, protection and encouragement of human rights especially as it relates to women and children. I see a lot of work left to do, but I also see a very bright future for all Vietnamese. This solid track record, knowledge, commitment and vision will be positive for UNHRC.

5. What do you expect Vietnam to contribute as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in the coming term?

Aside from my answer in number one above, I expect Vietnam to contribute knowledge, respect and leadership. I am sure this Vietnamese leadership will be balanced, and in a world that appears to reject any notion of balance, the Vietnamese approach to freedom and human rights will be invaluable to the council and the world.

The Vietnamese government engenders and espouses 'mutual respect' in all its activities. Mutual respect must always be accompanied by 'dialog and cooperation.' These are principles that Vietnam will share on the council and practice as an example to the world. As a world, we must find common ground as often as possible to draw us together, but also be willing to respect others who may have a different approach to the preservation of peace in their individual countries. Independence for any and all countries is a sacred non-controversial universal foundation pillar. Freedom's application for a country must be viewed through the lenses of national historical cultural mores.

Happiness results from many social, economic, hereditary, and political factors. Vietnam will contribute these principles to the council and become important tools that will enable the council to perform its responsibilities and shape the future human rights debate.

Thank you for the interview!

Established in 2006, VinaCapital Foundation (VCF) is a non-profit organization licensed in the US and operating in Vietnam. VCF works to empower women and children through health and education activities.

Rad Kivette - CEO of VinaCapital Foundation