Vietnamese human rights officials discuss collaborations with USC

Vietnamese delegates visited USC Nov. 12-13 to discuss collaboration opportunities with the university to further their country’s human rights research, policy and training efforts.

Dang Dung Chi, director of the Vietnamese Institute of Human Rights at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, and senior lecturer Nghia Van Hoang, were invited to USC by Sofia Gruskin, director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights at the USC Institute for Global Health.

As an emerging middle-income country, Vietnam is poised to make strides to support the health and human rights of its citizens, Gruskin said. In recognizing the nation’s development success, the World Bank has partnered with the government to promote health, rights and development, among other areas.

The Ho Chi Minh National Academy is responsible for educating and training all Vietnamese government officials and as representatives of the academy, Chi and Hoang visited the United States for a two-day conference on human rights at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and a study tour to examine U.S. justice systems.

The delegates’ visit to USC reflects the academy’s interest in exploring university collaboration possibilities. It materialized through a long-standing relationship with Gruskin, who has worked with the academy since 2004, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS.

“We have worked closely over the last eight years, and we conducted many national and regional workshops and training courses in Vietnam, which involved senior and local public and civil officers who then actively participated in policy programming related to health and human rights,” said Hoang, who was translating for Chi.

Chi and Hoang met with faculty and representatives from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the USC Gould School of Law, the USC Price School of Public Policy, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, to discuss partnership opportunities focused on health, human rights, communication, law and policy. Eric Heikkila, professor and director of international initiatives at USC Price, also hosted a luncheon for the delegates.

At the meetings, discussion focused on teaching and training opportunities for Vietnamese students and potential opportunities for USC faculty and students.

“We’re looking forward to establishing collaboration with the university’s faculty in many areas, including training, doing research and teaching students,” Hoang said. “We hope to send our students and public and civil servants to be trained at USC so we can contribute to developing our country.”

During their stay in Los Angeles, the delegates also visited area rights and judicial hubs, including the LA County Commission on Human Relations and the community and media relations unit of the Department of Justice for the California central district.

The delegates’ trip to the United States was supported by a grant that focuses on civil servants’ training and awareness, legal aid, local elected bodies and use of media to raise awareness of human rights in Vietnam.

The grant was awarded through the World Bank by the Nordic Trust Fund, which promotes human rights education for the bank’s staff members. The World Bank and the Nordic Trust Fund began collaborating in September to combine efforts to manage fraud and corruption risks that impact project outcomes, with a focus on developing countries that request such assistance.