Vietnam: Join the ICC, fight impunity

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In a region that has been economically and culturally dynamic but slow on international justice, Vietnam has displayed an openness towards the ICC that others have not. Now it’s time for Vietnam to join the 122 other countries that have committed to ending impunity by joining the ICC.

Vietnam is one of the focuses of our November Campaign for Global Justice (along with Egypt).


Vietnam has a special understanding of the importance of accountability for mass atrocities because of its past experiences with conflict. That is why it is well placed to lead the region in strengthening and broadening the ICC system of justice. By joining the ICC, Vietnam can also contribute to regional stability, safeguard against aggression and help to deter atrocities.

We sent a letter this week to Vietnamese President Trương Tấn Sang noting that because Vietnam’s domestic legislation already incorporates some important elements of the Rome Statute, there are few obstacles to ratification.

Amielle del Rosario, Coalition for the ICC Asia-Pacific regional coordinator:

“Vietnam has taken steps towards integrating the principles of international humanitarian law into its domestic legal system. Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression are all provided for to some extent in the 1999 Penal Code of Vietnam. We recognize the commitment to ending impunity displayed in this legislation, and we think it provides a strong base for further implementing the elements of the Rome Statute. Vietnam is in a good position to go ahead with ratification.”

Vietnam must live up to its stated commitment to international justice. Vietnam has repeatedly indicated since 2007 that it is seriously considering ratification, but has so far failed to take action.

Del Rosario:

“In its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Vietnam accepted numerous recommendations that it consider ratifying the Rome Statute. By translating its promises into action and ratifying, it would join the rest of the world in a movement to end impunity for the worst crimes. Vietnam would finally benefit from international recognition of its ongoing work to bring domestic legislation in line with international standards. It would also establish itself as a standard-bearer on international justice in Southeast Asia, leading the region’s entry into a global legal framework that is a disincentive to aggression and the worst crimes.”

Only two of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are members of the ICC, among the lowest regional rates in the world.


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