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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide (ARCHIVE): Introduction to Vietnam & its Legal System

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Rule of Law and Human Rights in Vietnam


The Rule of Law & Human Rights in Vietnam page on the Human Rights in ASEAN website (open access). 

The World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - Country Profile for Vietnam (open access).

Update on the Rule of Law for Human Rights in ASEAN: The Path to Integration (2016) (open access) (published by the Human Rights Resource Centre). Includes a detailed chapter on Vietnam.

US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017: Vietnam

Amnesty International: Vietnam

Other Legal Research Guides

Vietnam Legal Research by Anh Luu; 2017 update by Le Thi Hanh - on NYU's Globalex (open access)

Guide to Law Online: Vietnam (open access) Legal resources for Vietnam from the Law Library of Congress.

Foreign Law Guide (Brill) (UniMelb access) Introduction to legislation and the judicial system of Vietnam. The guide is organised alphabetically by topic.

Guide Author

This Research Guide was created and is maintained by Robin Gardner, MLS Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School. Please contact Robin at with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.

The Legal System of Vietnam

Vietnam has had a single, unified legal system since 1975. Vietnam's socialist legal system is influenced by eastern and western legal traditions, the French civil law system, and Soviet communist legal ideology. 

A detailed history of Vietnamese legal traditions is contained in Dao Tri Uc, 'Vietnam: Basic Information for Legal Research - A Case Study of Vietnam' (2003) Doing Legal Research in Asian Countries China, India, Malaysia,Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam 195-228 (full text in English available on open access)


Legislation (legal normative documents) is the most important source of law. The Constitution is the supreme law. See Article 4 of the 2015 Law on Promulgation of Legal Normative Documents (Law No 80/2015/QH13) for a full hierarchical list of all legal normative documents.

Judicial decisions are not sources of law in Vietnam. However, guidelines on the interpretation of laws are issued in the form of Resolutions by the Judge Council of the People's Supreme Court (Article 21). This guidance is a source of law (Article 4).

Treaties - ratified treaties are a source of law. See the Treaties page in this Guide for more information.

In general, Customary Law / practice is not a source of law. However, customary practice is referred to as a source of law in specific legal documents. See for example Article 5 of the 2015 Civil Code.

See detailed information on Vietnamese sources of law in Phan Thi Lan Huong, Overview of the Vietnamese Legal System (open access)

Doing Business in Vietnam

Doing Business in Vietnam - from the World Bank (Open Access). Provides statistics and other measures of business regulations and their enforcement for Vietnam. The 'Law Library' link on the top menu provides a collection of business laws and regulations, linking to government sites where possible.

International Comparative Legal Guides: Vietnam (open access). Covers 7 areas: Copyright, International Arbitration, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mining Law. Patents, Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws, and Trademarks.

Lexology PRO (formerly Getting the Deal Through) (UniMelb staff & student access). Covers 7 areas: Automotive, Corporate Governance, Licensing, Mergers & Acquisitions, Patents, Project Finance, and Restructuring & Insolvency.

A Look at Vietnam's Legal System - this is an open access chapter in The Report: Vietnam by the Oxford Business Group. It provides an up to date overview of the legal system in the context of investment, labour law, free trade agreements, corporate law etc. It includes brief discussion of many recent important laws, as continuous legal reforms aim to  liberalise the business environment to attract foreign investment.

Vietnamese News in English

Talk Vietnam (same day open access - no archive)

Vietnam Breaking News (same day open access - no archive)

Vietnam News Agency Bulletin - from the official governmental news agency of Vietnam (UniMelb staff & student access). 2001 to current. On Factiva  (Factiva Code VIETNA)

Viet Nam News: the National English Language Daily 

  • same day open access 
  • archive on Factiva (UniMelb staff & student access) under the names Vietnam News Brief Service (1999 to current - Factiva Code VIETNB) and Vietnam News Summary (2009 to current - Factiva Code VENEWS)
  • Viet Nam News legal & political news feed:
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Country Information

Vietnam was occupied by the Chinese for over 1000 years - until 938 AD. Vietnam was then independent until the mid 19th century when it was colonised by the French. It was then occupied by Japan during World War II. In 1945, independence from France was declared and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was born.  In 1946, Vietnam held the first National Assembly election, which adopted its first Constitution. However, the situation was precarious as the French tried to regain power by force, resulting in Vietnam War I (1946-1954). After the defeat of France in 1954, the country was divided into the North and the South. The South was named the Republic of Vietnam; while the north, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The intervention of the United States led to Vietnam War II. This war which ended in 1975 after victory by the North, and the country was unified.

Vietnam is a one-party State under the control of the Communist Party of Vietnam, which plays a central role in shaping the country's policy and legal system. Supremacy of the communist party is enshrined in the Constitution. The National Assembly of Viet Nam is the highest-level representative body of the people. This body has the supreme supervisory power to oversee all government functions and the implementation of the constitution and laws. It elects the President, who acts as the head of state and commander-in-chief. The Prime Minister is the head of government and is appointed by the President.

The following resources include general country information - history, demographics, economy, politics and government etc.

  • Vietnam Country Review (UniMelb staff & student access) - an annually updated detailed report of demographic, social, political, economic, business, investment, cultural and environmental information. This is an excellent an up to date source of information on the history and government of Cambodia, and includes information on freedoms, human rights, status of women etc.
  • Europa World Plus (UniMelb staff & student access) - use the Countries/Territories tab on the top menu to find information on Vietnam.
  • The CIA World Factbook - Vietnam (open access) includes country information in 80 topic areas under the main headings of Geography, People and Society, Economy, Energy, Communications, Military & Security, Transportation, and Transnational Issues.

See also: