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    According to the Vietnam Party and Government's statement, environmental protection is the career of all people, by the people and for the people. Moreover, environmental protection is an urgent and long - term task. In order to achieve success, it is crucial to mobilize the participation of Government ministries and agencies at all levels, mass organizations, religious organizations and communities from socialization for environmental protection.

   Mass organizations are established on a voluntary basis that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. The mass organizations are organized and operate in accordance with the Constitution and laws and in conformity with the Charter of the organization. The mass organizations represent and protect legal and legitimate rights and interests of all strata of the people; participates in state administration and socio-economic management. Article 9, Chapter 1 under the Constitution 2013 regulates mass organizations in Việt Nam, namely Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF), socio-political organizations and social organizations.

   Residential communities are the groups of Vietnamese people living in the same villages, hamlets, quarters, or residential zones. The key characteristic that determines communities is their social cohesion. Generally, they also work together toward a common goal. The cohesiveness in communities is tightened with patriotism and a spirit of solidarity. The communities have the right to voluntarily participate in a certain mass organization. Besides, they have a close relationship with the environment. They may pose positive or negative impacts on the environment.

 

Mobilize socio-political organizations and residential communities to participate in environmental protection

 

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF CHAPTER XV, LAW ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (LEP) 2014

   Responsibilities of the VFF, socio-political organizations, socio-professional organizations, and residential communities in environmental protection have been specified in three articles of Chapter XV under the LEP 2014, including Article 144 (Responsibilities and rights of VFF), Article 145 (Responsibilities and rights of socio-political organizations, socio-professional organizations), and Article 146 (Rights and obligations of residential communities). Accordingly, certain advantages of Chapter XV can be observed. Firstly, the Law protects the rights and interests of the residential community in which the residential community shall have the right to live in a healthy environment and to have responsibilities for environmental protection. These Articles also create an important legal corridor for mass organizations and residential communities to take part in environmental protection. It helps to build close relationship among the environmental state management agencies and the VFF, Vietnam Trade Union, Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union, Women's Union Vietnam, and Vietnam Veterans Association; Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Association, Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations and social-professional organizations. The Law has affirmed the role of mass organizations in mobilizing communities to engage in environmental protection, promoting democracy and people's creativity and socializing environmental protection work. Under the Law, the right to access to information and justice has been ensured while capacity building and community participation in environmental protection has been enhanced. Mass organizations organize communication activities to raise awareness, launch campaigns for environmental protection, build models, participate in social criticism, conduct the monitoring and supervision of public consultation, support community to involve in environmental protection; and ensure gender equality in environmental protection activities.

   On the other hand, there are a number of shortcomings in regulations defined in Chapter XV. To illustrate, the name of Chapter XV has not mentioned "the rights" of the entities involved whereas each Article of Chapter XV has stipulated both "the obligations and the rights". Furthermore, there seems to be no logical order in how the names of the articles are described. For example, some articles point out the obligations first while other articles determine the rights first. 

   In addition, these articles have not specified so that it has become difficult for mass organizations to take part in environmental protection. Article 145 provides general provisions on the responsibilities and rights of socio-political organizations and socio-professional organizations. However, these two organizations have different characteristics, functions, and tasks. The concept of "residential community" and the definition of "individual or organization representing the residential community" have not yet clarified. The reality showed only a few numbers of the households' meetings to select the representatives for the residential community. On the other hand, Chapter XV of LEP 2014 have not clarified specific rights and responsibilities of socio-political organizations and social-professional organizations as well as the responsibilities of the Government, state management agencies and authorities at all levels in supporting and encouraging mass organizations and residential communities to participate in environmental protection.

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDING CHAPTER XV OF LEP 2014

   Based on the analysis mentioned above, some specific revisions have been proposed as follows:

    The residential community may refer to the group of Vietnamese people living in the same villages, hamlets, quarters, or residential zones. The individual or organization representing the residential community is the VFF. Moreover, the concept of the residential community and the organization representing the residential community should be included in the Interpretation of terms.

    The name of Chapter XV should be revised as "Rights and responsibilities of VFF, socio-political organization, socio-professional organization, religious organization and residential community in environmental protection (hereinafter referred to as mass organization and community). The new revised Chapter should consist of six articles: Rights and responsibilities of VFF; Rights and responsibilities of socio-political organizations; Rights and responsibilities of social-professional organizations and other social organizations; Rights and responsibilities of state-recognized religious organizations; Rights and responsibilities of communities in environmental protection; and Ensuring conditions for organizations and residential communities to conduct their environmental protection activities.

    Such revisions help to eliminate the limitations and shortcomings of Chapter XV of LEP 2014. Accordingly, the new revised Chapter defines the rights and responsibilities of organizations and communities in environmental protection. It also separates the rights and responsibilities of socio-professional organizations from socio-political organizations; and suggests a new entity, namely religious organizations registered in accordance with laws. The rights and responsibilities of each entity (VFF, socio-political organization, socio - professional organization, religious organization, and population community) in environmental protection have been distinguished. Based on the nature, functions, and duties of each entity, it should clearly define rights and responsibilities of each entity; prescribe responsibilities of each socio-political organization (Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, Vietnam Farmers' Union, Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union, Vietnam Women's Union, Vietnam Veterans Association), socio-professional organizations, unions, and other social organizations; stipulates the responsibilities of the Government, environmental state management agencies, and authorities at all levels in encouraging and supporting mass organizations and residential communities to engage in environmental protection.  The new provisions will not increase the number of civil servants and the State Budget for environmental protection as well as recognize the gender issues.

 

Dr. Trần Văn Miều - Vice Chairman

 Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment

(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường số Chuyên đề Tiếng Anh I/2020)

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