Edited by Sarah Joseph, David Kinley and Jeff Waincymer
Chapter 9: Viet Nam, Human Rights and Trade: Implications of Viet Nam’s Accession to the WTO
9. Viet Nam, human rights and trade: implications of Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO David Kinley, Hai Nguyen and Odette Murray 1. INTRODUCTION1 Viet Nam has taken enormous strides over the past decade. It has re-engaged with the international community; its economy is well and truly emerging; its cities are vibrant; and its people are generally much better fed, healthier and more prosperous. International trade has increased significantly since the US lifted its trade embargo in the mid-1990s, and is now set to be further increased and liberalised following Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO in January 2007. But not everyone in the country has benefited, and not to the same degree. The rural poor (of which there are still millions), women and children working in the burgeoning industrial sectors, and ethnic minority groups are all faring less well. The connection between trade, economic development and human rights is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the plight of these groups. To varying extents, their fundamental human rights such as the rights to food, work, education, housing, adequate standards of living, non-discrimination, and cultural and religious freedoms are as yet inadequately protected, largely because the economic and political circumstances of these groups are less favourably affected by Viet Nam’s transformation from a centrally planned economy into a ‘market economy with a socialist orientation’.2 This chapter analyses the interrelations of these various factors from the perspective of their impact on the protection and promotion of human rights in Viet Nam in...
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