Using evidence to ensure inclusion


inclusionEncouraging politicians to take an evidence-based approach to law-making is a key step to ensuring legislation meets the diverse needs of Vietnamese society.

This is why the UN works with Viet Nam's law-making institution, the National Assembly, to see it calls on the best available scientific evidence and systematically collected data to create and amend laws that protect and reflect the aspirations of all people, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities and women.

The UN supports law-makers to increase their capacity by taking a 'learning-by-doing' approach, with access unlocked to new streams of evidence through fresh empirical research, public consultations and exposure to international best practices.

To ensure such evidence is also gathered from a cross section of society, the UN reaches out to a brand range of civil society organizations (CSOs) and helps them directly communicate the public's needs in a broad sphere of everyday life to law-makers. Importantly, this places citizens' needs at the forefront of any new or amended law and not those of the implementing agency.

In 2015, UN agencies took action to expose key human development issues to evidence-based advocacy to significantly strengthen the National Assembly's capacity to better formulate laws and oversee the performance of State agencies.

To champion child rights, UNICEF carried out Viet Nam's first-ever analysis of the legal gap between domestic laws and international commitments to successfully advocate for child's rights to be a central theme of the Law on Access to Information to be passed in 2016. This work was important as children under the age of 18 years will now have a legally protected right to access information through legal representatives for the first time in Viet Nam. The gap analysis also had a positive flow-on effect on other influential National Assembly committees in not only highlighting the importance of protecting child rights in legislation, but also how research and public consultations can achieve evidence-based law-making and effective oversight. The UN's leading role in initiating and facilitating CSOs' valuable inputs into the Law on Access to Information and Law of Association was formally recognized by the National Assembly's Law Committee.

UNICEF also conducted a feasibility analysis and evidence-based advocacy for the establishment of an independent child rights monitoring independent mechanism.

UN Women took a lead role in conducting research to successfully advocate for changes in specific provisions in amendments to the Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code related on violence against women and sexual violence, while UNDP led UN joint recommendations on the Law on Election passed in 2015 to build upon Viet Nam's international commitments on gender equality. These UN recommendations mean a minimum 35 per cent quota of women candidates for elections to the National Assembly and People's Councils is now enshrined in law. To bring far-reaching consequences of Viet Nam's emerging sex ratio at birth imbalance to the attention of law-makers, UNFPA published policy papers and organized dialogues on population issues with recent data from the Viet Nam Intercensal Population Survey 2014 to call for action. The UN agency also took a human-rights based approach in providing technical support for the development of the Population Law, Gender Equality Law and National Strategy and Programme of Action on Gender Equality, highlighting the key issues of population and development through the human rights lens.

Overall the UN worked as one in 2015 to deliver more than 30 consultation events on 20 laws in the National Assembly's legislation programme for the year each attended by an average of 50 MPs per event, while more than 50 CSOs were supported to directly engage legislators to bring a public voice to the law-making process. In addition, documented findings and recommendations from research and analysis were made accessible to hundreds of MPs and submitted to key committees appraising laws.

To continue successfully enhancing the National Assembly's awareness and capacity in evidence-based law making and oversight, the UN in 2015 also understood the need to engage an even wider range of stakeholders, especially law drafting teams, well in advance to gain greater consensus and support from grassroots organizations up to politicians to achieve legislation that meets Vietnamese society's needs and aspirations.