The following speech was delivered on June 6, 2009 by His Excellency M. Nguyen Minh Triet, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, at the opening of the 17th IADL Congress in Hanoi, Vietnam:

International and Vietnamese lawyers, jurists, judges, law teachers and students,

Representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations in Vietnam,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the solemn atmosphere of the XVIIth Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) held in Hanoi, I would like to express my pleasure and welcome to representatives of world and Vietnamese lawyer community, the diplomatic corps and international organizations in Vietnam.

Allow me, on behalf of the host country of the XVIIth Congress of the IADL, to extend to you my warmest greetings of friendship and solidarity!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The XVIIth Congress of the IADL constitutes an important event and a testimony to the determination and solidarity of world lawyer community in striving for a peaceful and stable world of cooperation and development.

Through hosting the event, the Communist Party, State, People and lawyer community of Vietnam wish to express their profound gratitude to genuine and sincere friends international lawyers and the IADL for the consistent support and solidarity given to the Vietnamese people during the war of national defence in the past as well as in the process of national building and development at present.

Also on this occasion, let me, on behalf of the Vietnamese state, people and agent orange victims, truly thank you and appreciate the International Tribunal of Conscience in support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange held by the IADL last May. This once again testifies to your position and close bond with our country and people.

Given the participation of a large number of lawyers from many countries across the world, the XVIIth IADL Congress serves as a forum for world lawyer community to meet, network, and discuss issues of universal concern while sharing experiences and encouraging each other to strive for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approved by 189 UN member countries, thus further promoting the rule of law and human-centric international law system.

I am of conviction that the Congress is a golden opportunity for us to deepen mutual understanding, enhance togetherness, and intensify cooperation in preventing crisis and conflict, ending wars, eradicating poverty, and building a good and prosperous society. I do expect everyone of you present here today to be an ambassador of peace and justice. This Congress will give us more strength and multiply our determination to push forward the rule of law in each country and in the international community for the sake of a brighter future of humankind.

Hosting the IADL Congress in Hanoi is a great honour of the Vietnamese people and lawyer community, thereby reaffirming Vietnam’s respect and support for peace, justice and development related programs initiated by world progressive lawyer community, and highlighting Vietnam’s interest in global legal issues such as counter-terrorism, promotion and protection of human rights, environmental protection, and assurance of social welfare.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since its birth on 2nd September 1945, the State of Vietnam throughout its national construction and development process has always paid due attention to the implementation and promotion of democracy, social equality and justice in parallel with economic development and improvement of the people’s material and spiritual life. As enshrined in the Constitution, building and improving the socialist rule of law state of the people, by the people and for the people in Vietnam is widely seen as an inevitable and objective trend, and a combination of universal features of a socialist rule of law state and unique characteristics of Vietnam. As a matter of fact, historical and fundamental values of a rule-of-law state have been realized through the on-going legislative, administrative and judicial reforms in Vietnam. They are: respect for human rights; assurance of the people’s key role in policy and law making as well as in inspecting and monitoring the state apparatus; enhancement of democracy, openness and transparency in activities of the civil services; separation of functions and coordination between the legislative, executive and judicial branches; respect for the independence of the courts. In particular, I would like to emphasize the significance of the underway judicial reform in Vietnam. Under an approved long-term strategy, this reform has been conducted for almost five years and gained initial positive results. In deed, the court and court proceedings are defined as the center of the judicial system; lawyers’ role is appreciated and their activities respected; lawyers’ associations strengthened. The State of Vietnam fully adopts important procedural principles such as court debate, participation of the people’s jurors in the court proceedings,  presumption of innocent, etc. Relentless efforts have been made in on-the-job training and educating judges, lawyers, prosecutors, ruling enforcers, people’s jury members on responsibility and professional ethics. Over the past years, the consistent policy of the Vietnamese State has been to serve interests of the social groups which need special care. Activities relating to legal consultation and legal aid are strongly supported by law associations and lawyers, especially legal aid provided for the poor, ethnic minority groups, the population in remote areas, vulnerable groups such as children, women, disabled, and so forth. We advocate implementation of the legal aid policy for this group of people by our state bodies and judicial agencies. At the same time, through socialization measures, we have tried to mobilize the society’s efforts and resources to ensure the people’s right to access information, policies, laws and justice. Such policies and actions are in line with the public’s demands and aspirations, thus contributing to building and consolidating a healthy, stable, tolerant, consensus-based and united society and to our national development efforts over the past years.

However, we also sincerely find that our achievements and efforts in the reform process remains an initial step in the long journey towards a perfect socialist rule of law. Still, our central vision sticks to the aim of meeting the people’s pressing demands for the consolidation and development of the their legitimate democracy and establishment of a clean, efficient and effective state apparatus accountable to and subject to the supervision by the people.

Together with the development of the socialist market economy, our efforts to ensure social security, employment, job, poverty reduction, environmental protection and health care as well as to combat social evils, natural disaster and epidemics are always high on the agenda of policy- and law-makers.

In the area of law building, reform measures aim at establishing a system of laws that fully reflect the interests of all social groups, the State and individuals, thus creating a firm legal foundation for the development of the market economy in the context of deepening integration into the global economy as well as for the promotion of the exercise of democracy and the reduction of negativities. In the area of judicial reform, efforts have been made to focus on enhancing the effectiveness of court activities so as to ensure the paramount role of justice as well as the citizens’ legitimate rights and interests; guarding against the wong verdicts in all areas of justice while assuring that all the judgments and decisions by the court are to be respected and seriously observed.

In order to achieve such goals of judicial reform, the state and the people of  Viet Nam are in need of a contingent of  professional legal experts, lawyers and judges with adequate quality, full quantity, a strong conscience and work ethics.  Besides, it is the common policy of the state and social organizations, especially judges and lawyers across the country, to create necessary conditions for enhancing the use of legal aids and the people’s access to justice. In this connection, on behalf of the state of Viet Nam, I look forward to receiving your experience and cooperation from the lawyers of all countries and the IADL.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association (VLA) is a socio-political and professional organization of all legal professionals. Its membership consists of lawyers, legal experts, judges and judicial officers.  Established in the early days of the country’s independence and reunification, VLA has made noteworthy contributions to the country’s legal and political battles.

In the process of building the rule of law state and international integration, VLA has been fulfilling its role very effectively. Through its role in building and improving the systems of laws, judicial reform, supervising the implementation of law, promotion and education of laws, conducting legal advisory services, providing legal aids for the poor as well as selecting judges and judicial officers, VLA has proven itself as an important and indispensable actor in the process of building and improving the rule of law in Viet Nam .

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is Viet Nam’s policy to bring into full play our indigenous strengths, implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralization of international relations in the spirit that Viet Nam is a friend and reliable partner of countries in the international community, striving for peace, stability, cooperation and development.

In the legal area, Viet Nam advocates the preservation and promotion of traditional cultural identity and social ethics, stands ready to receive and absorb progressive legal experience of countries and associate herself with international progressive legal institutions and practices.

I hope that during your attendance at the IADL Congress, we will get to know more about and fall in love with our country, recognizing in the Vietnamese people our sincere feelings, kindness and hospitality imbued with friendly and cooperative spirits.

I believe that with your common determination and resolve, we will strive effectively for a world of peace, stability, happiness and development and that the prestige and role of the IADL be increasingly enhanced and justice upheld.

I wish you all the best of health and happiness. May the 17th IADL Congress be crowned with a great success.

Thank you very much!