“To respect diversity, freedom, and equality, toward citizens’ well-being and the country’s prosperity” is the common aspiration among seven vulnerable groups, as expressed at the conference that took place on Mar 9, 2013 in Hanoi to share the results of the Constitution amendments’ consultation process.
On Mar 9, 2013, seventeen civil society organizations and networks working for the rights of socially vulnerable groups organized a conference to share results from the 1992 Constitution’s amendments consultation process. The consulted groups included the disabled, the HIV positive, the LGBT community, women, youth, migrant workers, and ethnic minorities.
“To achieve the result shared at this conference, staff from seventeen civil society organizations participated in 42 consultation meetings at national and local levels in thirteen provinces throughout the country. The process showed that many people still did not have a clear understanding of either the Constitution or its impacts on their rights. It was crucial that these civil society organizations disseminated the Constitution draft and collected feedback from vulnerable groups,” observed Mr Le Quang Binh, Director of iSEE.
At the conference, representatives from each group put forward proposals to clauses most pertinent to their respective groups in the Constitution. All the proposals received lively feedback and discussion from the attendees, including leading scholars and experts working in the government, in universities, and in the development sector.
Dr. Dinh Xuan Thao, Director of the National Assembly’s Legislative Research Institute, acting as the bridge between civil society organizations and the Constitution Amendment Committee, remarked: “I applaud the practice of citizens’ consultation, especially from those that belong to vulnerable groups that civil society organizations work with. This effort has aided us tremendously in the process of amending the Constitution. We need data, clear scientific arguments, as well as real-life stories to help the National Assembly in the process of ratifying these proposals.”
The conference provided a venue for representatives from vulnerable groups to share stories from their own communities, proving why the Constitution needs to be fair and universal to protect the rights of all citizens in society.
Following are some stories and photos from the conference:
Currently the government has proposed to postpone the deadline for the 1992 Constitution amendment till Sep 2013. Civil society organizations will have time to prepare a more detail and effective proposal to contribute to a Constitution that protects the rights of all Vietnamese citizens, regardless of their socio-economic class, ethnicity, place of origin, age, gender, and health status.