Today the students of John Marshall Law School attended their second day of lecture at the Galaxy Law Firm in Hanoi, Vietnam. Today’s discussion and debate centered on the Vietnamese Government’s adherence to international human rights treaties. Professor Chu Manh Hung, Hanoi Law University, led the discussion. It became apparent quickly that the students of John Marshall Law School had different views of what obligations the ICCPR and ICESCR imposed on a signatory state. Specifically, the students raised questions about Vietnam’s State Ordinance on Belief and Religion. This ordinance allows the government of Vietnam to limit religious practices contrary to the principles of International law.
The students also discussed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, (“CRC”). Many questions were raised about what steps the Vietnamese government is taking to improve the education system. Currently, twenty percent of the Vietnamese budget is devoted to education expenses. However, the national average education of an adult still remains around 5.5 years. This number takes into account the lower level of education for ethnic minorities in mountainous areas. This is only a nominal increase from 4.4 years in 1980. Professor Hung pointed to the population’s lack of awareness regarding their rights to education as a major obstacle in further growth of education. He believed that using a majority of the budget to increase awareness of educational opportunities would be helpful. It was made clear today that there is a great disparity in education system between rural and urban areas of the country.
The students also learned about the government’s attempts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam. The government has taken steps to inform the public of risks of HIV/AIDS, as well as providing prevention treatments for those who have already contracted HIV/AIDS. The government seeks that these steps will bring awareness to the issue and reduce the spread of disease throughout the nation.
We concluded the evening and the year with a festive New Year’s dinner. Joining us were Dr. Hai and a number of other individuals connected to the law studies.
~Shayan Davoudi, Eric Bibsy & Jack Sheehan