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Cablegate: Vietnam Undecided On Un Human Rights Council

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

REF: STATE 140191

1. (SBU) Poloff met August 3 with Pham Thi Kim Anh, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Human Rights Officer in the
International Organizations Department, to deliver reftel
demarche. Anh said Vietnam has not yet finalized its
position on the creation of the Human Rights Council, but
has some concerns about the formulation contained in the
UNGA President's outcome document.

2. (SBU) Anh noted that in Vietnam's estimation, the current
UN Commission on Human Rights is already performing the
functions envisioned for the UN Human Rights Council.
Vietnam supports UN reform, including reform of the UN
Commission on Human Rights, but is concerned about the way
reform ideas are being developed. In particular, Vietnam
perceives the United States as using the reform process to
increase its ability to impose its view on other countries
and interfere in other nations' internal affairs.

3. (SBU) When considering the reform of the UN's Human
Rights architecture, certain practices must be abolished,
Anh said. "Double standards, the politicization of human
rights and the practice of naming and shaming cannot be a
part of a reformed human rights structure in the UN," she
explained. Vietnam is increasingly concerned that some
international organizations connected with and independent
of the United Nations (she was not specific on which ones)
"violate international law through their interference in the
internal affairs of States."

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4. (SBU) Anh seemed accepting of the points addressing the
issues of naming and shaming and addressing all of the
rights identified in the Universal Declaration. Vietnam's
additional concerns about the Human Rights Council relate to
the proposed Council's size. "20 is too small," she said,
"and so is 30 or 35." The problem with the Council being
too small is that it reduces the opportunity to achieve real
geographic diversity on the Council, she explained, and
makes it unlikely that smaller or developing countries will
be able to mount effective candidacies. The current size of
the UN Commission on Human Rights might be better, she said.
Still, she stressed, the size of the proposed Council is one
of the issues on which Vietnam has yet to finalize its

5. (SBU) Of greater concern than the size of the proposed
Council is the requirement that countries would need to
receive a two-thirds vote in the UNGA to become members of
the Council, Anh said. This requirement requires candidates
to lobby hundreds of other countries and delegations, a
burden that "small, weak or developing" countries cannot
meet. The current system, where the UN Human Rights
Commission members are elected by the ECOSOC member
countries, greatly increases small countries' practical
ability to lobby for membership, she said.

6. (SBU) Anh made a point to reiterate the fact that Vietnam
has not made a final decision on the UN Human Rights
Council, and values the opportunity to exchange ideas and
points of view with the United States and other UN member
nations on this topic.

7. (SBU) Comment: The GVN's response to any demarche dealing
with multilateral Human Rights mechanisms has in past years
been barely civil. Anh's receptiveness to Poloff's points
and willingness to respond to questions and issues, despite
being accompanied by one of the most hard-line automatons in
the IO Department's Human Rights bullpen, was a striking
change from previous interactions on this topic. While this
probably has more to do with the Prime Minister's
instruction to all ministries to pursue better relations
with the United States than it does to any GVN change of
heart on Human Rights issues, it is welcome nonetheless.
End Comment.


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