Cablegate: Vietnam: Moving Ahead Towards an Adoptions

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Vietnam: Moving Ahead Towards an Adoptions

Ref: A) 03 Hanoi 1233

1. (U) Summary. In a meeting with Consul, Mr. Long, the
Acting Director of the new Department of International
Adoptions (DIA) in the Ministry of Justice identified the
issue of "state vs "government" as the GVN's most
significant issue regarding completion of the draft Protocol
on adoptions. In addition, Long also previewed some of the
specific GVN comments on the draft Protocol that will be
provided to the U.S. in writing by mid January, and outlined
a timeline of next steps on the GVN side. End Summary.

"State" vs. "Government"

2. (U) In a meeting with Consul on January 6th, the Acting
Director of the new DIA, Vu Duc Long made it clear that the
most significant issue with the draft Protocol is the
concept of "state" versus "government". The GVN places
treaties into one of four categories: the "state" level
(meaning the level of the State President), the "government"
level (meaning the office of the Prime Minister), the
"ministerial" level, and the "agency" level. Because inter-
country adoption involves the rights of children, they
believe the treaty should be at the highest level - the
"state" level, and thus not be a statement of understandings
between "governments". According to Long, any indication
that the U.S. wants this to be an understanding between
"governments" rather than "states" is an indication that we
give the matter less significance than it merits. This
echoes concerns raised earlier (ref A), concerning the type
and title of the document. Long does not believe questions
over the type of document will be raised again as long as
the text of the document reflects an understanding between
the two countries at the "state" level.

3. (U) Along the same lines, Long also raised questions as
to whether the Protocol will apply at all levels of the USG.
For example, he asked, what if the U.S. Congress has a
problem with U.S.-Vietnam adoptions - will Congress be bound
by this Protocol or have the authority to question it? The
GVN goal is a document that will apply to all levels and
branches of the federal government.

Discussion of Specific Comments

4. (U) Long indicated that our latest draft Protocol had
been submitted to the relevant agencies within the GVN for
comment. The DIA had received comments from all but one
agency, and Long committed to provide written comments on
the draft to the U.S. before the Vietnamese New Year (Tet)
holiday begins on January 21. In the meantime, Long
previewed a list of what some of those comments will be.

- The U.S. and GVN legal and adoptions structures are
very different, but the Protocol reflects the U.S. structure
only. For example, the Protocol makes reference to
Vietnamese domestic adoption service providers. While
Vietnam does have orphanages, it does not have any adoption
service providers.

- Article 2 lists the laws, precedents and legal
authorities governing inter-country adoptions. The GVN
wishes to add a number of Vietnamese documents to this list,
such as their Marriage and Family Law, Nationality Law, etc.

- In Article 4, the term "jurisdiction" is troublesome.
The term has different definitions under common law and
civil law. Long suggested that the legal experts will need
to discuss this point.

- Article 7 lists several authorities over inter-
country adoptions. The GVN will need the Protocol to
indicate which authority is the "decisive" authority in the
U.S. and clarify the role played by each.

- Article 15 indicates that U.S. prospective adoptive
parents (PAPs) must file applications with the GVN Central
Adoption Agency. If this means that they must file the
application in person, it creates the requirement for PAPs
to travel to Vietnam twice (once to file, and once to
receive the child).

- Paragraph 3 of Article 17 highlights the transparency
of fees exchanged between the PAPs and adoption service
providers only. It does not go far enough with respect to
fees paid to orphanages, civil officials, etc. The GVN
feels strongly that the exchange of fees must be clearly
defined and transparent with ALL parties. The GVN indicated
their interest in this matter is strong enough that they
might be willing to waive reciprocity on this point.

- The GVN would like to include an exemption to
legalization requirements for documents related to inter-
country adoptions. This is necessary because there is
currently no Judicial Assistance Treaty between the USG and
GVN and current legalization requirements are extensive in
adoption cases.
- There is concern that the Protocol could be
interpreted to apply to the humanitarian efforts of agencies
involved in international adoptions. He urged that the two
issues be treated separately.

Next Steps

5. (U) Long provided consul with a tentative timeline for
the remaining steps on the GVN side in achieving and putting
into effect a Protocol:

- January: GVN provides written comment and proposes
dates for negotiations.

- February: 1st round of negotiations. Document initialed
and sent to the "government" (meaning Prime Minister).
(Note: If all issues not resolved, DIA will seek further
comment and propose dates and location for a second round of
negotiations in March. If this happens, the remaining dates
will slip.)

- March: GVN prepares a Vietnamese translation and
submits it for USG approval.

- Following USG approval of the translation: Signing of
the document by the Ambassador and someone designated by the
office of the Prime Minister.

- Following signing: The State President ratifies the
Protocol. (With adoptions Agreements signed between the GVN
and other countries recently, this has happened quite

- One month following ratification: The Protocol only
goes into effect after publication in the Official Gazette.

6. (U) When asked, Long indicated that negotiations would
probably take place based on the draft provided in English.


7. (U) The meeting was quite productive. It was good to
see the GVN sharing so many of the USG concerns.
Specifically, Mission would support moving away from the
term "jurisdiction" (3rd bullet, para 4) out of fear that
babies trafficked into Vietnam might be considered within
Vietnam's jurisdiction, and thus adoptable under this
Protocol. In addition, Mission strongly echoes the GVN
concerns with transparency of fees with ALL parties. If the
GVN is willing to waive reciprocity and define two different
sets of requirements in terms of transparency of fees, this
is an offer we should seize.

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