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The Revised Child Law: the Opportunity for Viet Nam to consolidate its pioneering stand on child rights

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Ha Noi, 01 April 2016 - A child is any person under 18 years of age. This is the definition given by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and it’s also the definition agreed by all but a handful of States in the world. Viet Nam is a pioneer globally in upholding child rights as it was the first country in Asia to ratify the Convention in 1990, and the second country in the world. The global leadership role on child rights has been reaffirmed with Directive No. 20 issued by the Politburo of the Central Committee in 2012 aiming at strengthening care, education, and protection of children.

Thanks to advances in brain scanning technology, recent scientific research reveals that persons under the age of 18 are not yet fully mature adults. In fact, the most critical parts of the brain responsible for decision-making are not fully formed until the early 20s. This supports the rationale thrust behind the international definition of a child as under 18 years, as it provides critical opportunities to support children aged between 16 and 18 to enter into productive adulthood.
Mr Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, Representative UNICEF in Viet NamMr Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, Representative UNICEF in Viet Nam
Using 18 as the age to define a child does not mean that 18 must be legislated as the age for all matters relating to children. Recognizing children develop and grow over time, national laws can set different ages at which children are considered capable of making decisions or taking part in certain activities. For example, national laws may say that a child is able to drive a motorbike at the age of 16, is considered criminally responsible at the age of 14, and can engage in light work at the age of 15. However, in recognition that they are not yet fully mature, all children under the age of 18 are entitled to special care and protection, and both parents and the government continue to owe a special duty to them until they reach adulthood.

By defining a child as under 18 years, Viet Nam can extend protection of rights to cover all children, and avoid the risk that children aged 16-18 years fall through the gaps. This could be a young girl victim of sexual abuse in need of care, or a young orphan who needs protection.

Viet Nam’s current Law on Protection, Care and Education of Children from 2004 stipulates that children prescribed in the Law are Vietnamese citizens aged under 16 years. Members of the National Assembly are currently debating a new draft Child Law that proposes to make explicit that a child is a person under the age of 18 years. This disposition will be in alignment with international standards anchored in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that Viet Nam ratified in 1990, in a pioneering manner in the Region and Globally: being the first in Asia and the second in the world.

UNICEF is extremely concerned that a rejection to raise the age of the child to 18 would have negative consequences for children that would deny them support and protection at a critical time of their growth. Viet Nam is facing a defining moment in time, and UNICEF trusts that Viet Nam will continue its pioneering status in protecting children’s and adopt the alignment of the age of the child, as under 18, in conformity with international child rights standards.
By Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam




1 December 2017

Michel Sidibé
Executive Director of UNAIDS
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

This World AIDS Day, we are highlighting the importance of the right to health and the challenges that people living with and affected by HIV face in fulfilling that right.


Community spaces design contest for an exciting hanoi

Ha Noi, October 17/10/2017 - Aiming at improving the living environment and bringing culture and art to the community towards a better urban future, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) successfully developed the project “Promote participatory, community-based and youth-led approach in safe, greening public spaces in Hoan Kiem district toward a pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable urban development” (hereinafter called Public Spaces project) under the Block by Block program with Mojang, the makers of the videogame Minecraft.


Deadline for round 1: From 17/10/2017 to 04/11/2017 Extended to 9 November 2017


Harsh punishment for child offenders doesn’t prevent further criminality

The age at which a child, can be held criminally liable is a controversial issue around the world. Within Viet Nam, this issue is currently being grappled with in the Penal Code amendments. Some argue that a "get tough on crime" approach is necessary to punish children to prevent further criminality.

However, international research shows that because of their developmental stages, labelling and treating children as criminals at an early age can have serious negative impacts on their development and successful rehabilitation.


New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.