Deconstructing the “Socialist” Rule of Law in Vietnam: The Changing Discourse on Human Rights in Vietnam’s Constitutional Reform

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Title: Deconstructing the “Socialist” Rule of Law in Vietnam: The Changing Discourse on Human Rights in Vietnam’s Constitutional Reform

Author: Bùi Hải Thiêm

Source: Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 36, No. 1 (2014), pp. 77–100.

Abstract: 

Over the past two decades, efforts by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) to build a “socialist” rule of law through legal and judicial reforms have contributed to the vibrant constitutional politics in the country. During the process of amending the 1992 Constitution, the socialist theoretical foundations of the Constitution quietly shifted as a result of new thinking and values. The complex interactions of old and new ideological precepts were prominently reflected by the changing discourse of human rights during debates about amendments to the 1992 Constitution. This article investigates the development of the “socialist” rule of law and the changes taking place in the discourse of human rights during the constitutional reform process in Vietnam. In setting out the context and content of constitutional reform, it seeks to deconstruct the socialist rule of law and interpret the discourse of human rights accordingly. In doing so, the mechanisms by which human rights have been socialized will be unpacked to make sense of subtle changes in the human rights discourse. Furthermore, the paper aims to uncover the implications of such a change for the development of Vietnam’s human rights regime.

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