Feature Story

24 September 2013

Workshop to review Viet Nam Population Ordinance - a key milestone in the development of population-related legislation in the country

Ha Noi, 24 September 2013 - A national workshop to review the ten year implementation of the Viet Nam Population Ordinance organized today in Ha Noi by the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP) - Ministry of Health. This workshop represented a real opportunity to bring together collective learning, both nationally and globally, in assessing the implementation of the Population Ordinance and drawing lessons for the formulation of the proposed population law.

The workshop was co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien, Director of GOPFP Duong Quoc Trong and UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam Arthur Erken.

Addressing the workshop, Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien emphasized that Viet Nam has gained significant achievements in the population and family planning work since the Population Ordinance went into effect. Viet Nam has made impressive progress towards achieving the MDGs. Fertility rates have declined steadily. Reductions in maternal and child mortality have been also impressive. However, the country is also facing many emerging issues including sex ratio at birth imbalance and population ageing that need more efforts and greater collaboration from all ministries and related government agencies.

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in 1994, articulated a bold new vision about the relationships between population, development and individual well-being. At the ICPD, 179 countries, including Viet Nam, adopted a forward-looking, 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) that marked a profound paradigm shift from population control to looking at human well-being in its totality, on the basis of the fullfilment of universal and basic human rights.

In his speech, Mr. Arthur Erken highlighted that the new Population Law should be based on the Principles as adopted and outlined in the Programme of Action of the 1994 ICPD, to which Viet Nam is a signatory. The ICPD reaffirmed that "all couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, timing and spacing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so". This phrase should form the basis of all population-related development programmes. "We call upon all concerned to ensure that the Population Law focuses on improving the health and well-being of all women and men, girls and boys, ensures the rights and choices of different groups of population, aims at improving the quality of life of the entire of population, and makes investments in the young population a top priority, while not neglecting the needs of the elderly," said Mr. Erken.

Viet Nam is developing a new Population Law taking into account national lessons and experiences from the Population Ordinance implementation as well as lessons learned from other countries dealing with the consequences of a rapid population dynamic transition, low fertility and policies response.

The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that Viet Nam needs the law to address the population issues of Viet Nam for the next 30 and 50 years. Therefore, the Deputy PM suggested that the Population Law should be forward-looking and focus on responding to these changes and their development implications. "A s now we are developing a new population law, we should build on the lessons learned from the 10 year implementation of the Population Ordinance, the 50 year implementation of the population policies, as well as lessons from other countries, both failures and successes to make the new law as the most appropriate and comprehensive one,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

From 19 to 20 September 2013, representatives from 40 countries, including Viet Nam led by the Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien, attended the Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok. The Conference reviewed the region’s successes, challenges and future priorities in the area of population and development. It was also instrumental in shaping the regional population agenda for the next decade and beyond. The meeting adopted a Ministerial Declaration which will serve as the Asia-Pacific input to the United Nations General Assembly special session on the ICPD beyond 2014.

The ICPD Beyond 2014 Review will reveal what works best, how to respond to new challenges, and ultimately, will come out with new recommendations to assure each individual a healthy and fulfilling life, with respect for their dignity and equal rights, in a world beyond 2014.