Different views of democracy and human rights should not be barriers to international cooperation

28/04/2016

Each country in the world has its own pattern of democracy and pursues its own human rights values. In other words, patterns of democracy and human rights vary among nations. But this does not obstruct cooperation between nations in the modern world. Unlike political thinking during the Cold War, these days political ideology, democracy and human rights are no longer seen as the sole criteria for cooperation and relations between nations.
This does not mean the current world neglects democracy and human rights. On the contrary, countries around the world pay attention to democracy and human rights and consider these issues their national sociopolitical priorities.
Today Western countries appear to increasingly respect other countries’ patterns of democracy and human rights. The days of international political dictatorship – when Western powers unilaterally imposed their values as international standards to assess, accuse and interfere in other countries’ internal affairs - seem to be outmoded in contemporary times.
In the 20th century, Vietnam experienced three changes related to democracy and human rights in its national political institution.
The first was the August Revolution in 1945, when the nation overturned the feudal and colonial regime to establish the first-ever democratic republic in the country. As a result, the Vietnamese people enjoyed real citizenship and human rights.
http://image.qdnd.vn/Upload/thuyduong_ta/2016/4/27/chong-dien-bien-hb194029284.jpg
Human rights, including all citizens' right to vote, ensured in Vietnam
The second change took place from 1975-1986. During that period, the country was building an old model of socialism. In political terms, the State promoted “collective mastership” and established “power for working people” (based on “dictatorship of the proletariat” to remove the “people-by-people exploitation” system). In economic terms, the State formed two kinds of economic ownership: national and collective. Within this model, human rights - particularly economic rights - were comparatively limited.
The third period started with the Doi Moi (reform) policy in 1986. Since then, the State has been pursuing a new model of socialism. The new model aims to ensure people’s mastership to the State and to society. It also aims to build a rule of State law that belongs to the people, is made of the people, and serves the people. Meanwhile, the economy is now defined as a “socialist-oriented market economy.” This type of economy promotes social welfare and socioeconomic equality. Its economic results serve as the foundation for building a modern culture with national identities and a civilized and democratic society – a culture where human rights are ensured and closely linked to national interests. As for foreign affairs, Vietnam follows a policy of self-reliance and independence in foreign relations. The country strives for peace, friendship, cooperation, development, and integration in the region and world.
Under the leadership of the Party, Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 185 countries and strategic or comprehensive partnerships with all five permanent member states of the UN Security Council.
As for human rights, Vietnam has a number of significant achievements. Of special note: Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review in 2014 was highly valued by the international community. Vietnam is also a member of the UN Human Rights Council of 2014-2016.
Vietnamese Party and State principles for relations with other countries and international organizations always involve the fields of democracy and human rights.
Vietnam places first and foremost priority on its national interests. This principle demonstrates the Party and State viewpoint on the Vietnamese revolution’s partners and adversaries in the new context.
Party guidelines say: “All parties that honor Vietnam’s sovereignty and wish to establish friendly relations and cooperate with Vietnam, on the basis of equality and mutual benefits, are Vietnam’s partners. All forces that attempt to sabotage Vietnam’s national construction and protection of the Fatherland are threats to Vietnam.”
The second principle requires Vietnam’s partners to respect each other’s political systems. In other words, Vietnam and its partners should honor each other’s ideology, politics, social forms, Constitution and laws.
The third principle defines that disputes between Vietnam and other countries must be solved via peaceful means on the basis of the UN Charter and international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Vietnam believes that only dialoguing in a frank, open, and constructive manner can remove obstacles created by differences in thoughts, politics, and other legal issues between nations. Political impositions - such as using democracy and human rights as conditions for bilateral relations between countries, or resorting to biased and confrontational attitudes between different political systems - are all Cold War legacies and are unacceptable.
Vietnam is building a new model of socialism which honors democracy and human rights as the nature of society and the objective of political, social and economic development.
Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution devotes one chapter to defining human rights and citizen rights and obligations. Article 14 of Chapter 2 reads: “1. In the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, human rights, and citizen political, civil, economic, cultural and social rights are recognized, honored and protected under the Constitution and current laws; 2. Human rights and citizen rights are only limited by the laws in some necessary cases affecting defense, national security, social order, safety, social ethics and public health.”
The next National Assembly in the 2016-2021 tenure is expected to concretize articles on human rights and citizens rights by issuing a number of laws. These will include laws on the right to access information, the right to form and participate in associations, and the right to strike. Many laws will also be revised to expand and ensure citizen human rights and other rights of citizens.
The documents of the recent 12th National Party Congress reaffirmed the values of socialist democracy which were developed and led by the Party. For example, the Draft Documents of the 12th National Party Congress were published by the media to encourage the submission of public opinions and proposals. International press and media commended the democratic spirit and practices in the Party’s selection of personnel for Party agencies.
In February 2016, the BBC interviewed the US Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius. The BBC asked if the ambassador was surprised at the results of the elections for Party Central agencies in the 12th National Party Congress. They also asked him what he thinks about the new generation of Vietnam’s leadership.
The ambassador said he observed the proceedings of the 12th National Party Congress closely. He said that bilateral relations between the USA and Vietnam are more significant than, and should predominate over, any personal relations. He expressed optimism about the generational change in Vietnam’s leadership. According to him, the Communist Party of Vietnam showed its clear support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and affirmed its commitment to international integration during the 12th National Party Congress. He sees this as a positive sign for relations between the USA and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, a leading Russian newspaper reported that the Director of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies (under the Russian Scientific Academy), Professor Dmitri Moxiakop, said that the 12th Vietnamese National Party Congress was the success of good forces.
In conclusion, the major trend in the world requires nations to promote cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral levels. In other words, nations are all interdependent in the current world. Vietnam understands this well and follows this trend.
As the country’s foreign policy articulates: “Vietnam is a reliable friend and partner of other countries, and a responsible member of the international community.”
To realize its foreign policy, Vietnam is accelerating international integration, and cooperating with other countries, regardless of their political systems and their sociocultural and economic models. So other countries should not see differences in Vietnam’s political and sociocultural views as barriers to their relations with Vietnam.

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