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. The 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.
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Doing Business in Vietnam
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
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)
SOURCES OF LAW
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)
Other Legal Research Guides
Vietnamese News in English
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