A journey to build a law-governed state

In parallel with economic reforms, the Doi Moi (Renewal) process in Vietnam is also marked by great efforts in building the law-governed socialist state of the people, by the people and for the people. The transition from a centralised, bureaucratic and subsidised model has experienced many difficulties and challenges, therefore the obtained achievements in the area are of great significance.

NA deputies press buttons to adopt a law. (Photo: VNA)
NA deputies press buttons to adopt a law. (Photo: VNA)

First of all, the awareness of the law’s fulfilment has become the common perception of the whole of our society. From this awareness, the law-building work has really been promoted. The legal system in Vietnam has fundamental been built and constantly improved. Recently, a large number of legal documents that are necessary for building a market economy and international integration have been approved by the National Assembly.

Currently at each session, the National Assembly has been able to adopt from 10 to 15 bills. This is a huge volume of work that previously required at least two or three years, even a dozen years. However, innovation is expressed not only in quantity, but also in quality. The quality is partly guaranteed by listening to and absorbing people's opinions in the legislative process. The National Assembly’s consideration and approval of the Enterprise Law, the Investment Law, the Labour Code, etc are typical examples. There has never been such an ebullient interaction among people, enterprises, and the NA and NA deputies. Through this interaction and consultation process, many articles of the bills have been supplemented and modified to suit the reality of certain situations.

The awareness that all subjects are equal before the law is gradually formed. Although there are a few misleading manifestations here and there, in general it is understood that people as well as the State are equal before the law.

Second, in the law-governed state, many laws are automatically recognised. The rights which nature has granted to human beings (basic human rights) are considered to be part of the Constitution - the law with the highest legal validity. Notably, in the 2013 Constitution human rights are mentioned and put into the second chapter (only after the chapter on the political regime). Accordingly, the State shall guarantee and promote the People's right to mastery; recognise, respect, protect and guarantee human rights and citizens' rights; and pursue the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized country, in which all people enjoy an abundant, free and happy life and are given conditions for their comprehensive development.

Third, the promulgation of laws is regulated in a very strict manner. Any law that affects the freedom of the people and incurs compliance costs, must go through very strict procedural controls.

Fourth, in the socialist law-governed state, the state power is unified and delegated to state agencies which coordinate with and control one another during the exercise of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. This is a way to avoid abuse of power and also the most important requirement of a law-governed state.

Fifth, constitutional institutions are important elements of the law-governed state. In Vietnam, the Constitution is the fundamental and supreme law of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The National Assembly and its agencies, the President, the Government, People’s Courts, People’s Procuracies, and other agencies of the State and all the People shall defend the Constitution. The mechanism to defend the Constitution shall be prescribed by a law.

With the promulgation of the 2013 Constitution, Vietnam has made great strides in building the Vietnamese law-governed state. A series of principles such as the protection of human rights, the control of state agencies, the People’s Courts’ duty to safeguard justice, etc have been recognised by the Constitution. However, the influence of old thinking is still significant, therefore, more efforts should be exerted in order to build a strong law-governed state.