human rights in Asia

Looking Into the Human Rights Impacts of Hydropower Dams in Vietnam

RWI, in cooperation with the Vietnamese Institute for Human Rights, recently held a national conference on human rights research and education in Hanoi, Vietnam. Our programme officer, David Eile, sat down to talk to Nguyen Thi Thanh Hai, the Deputy Head of Human Rights Theory Division at the Vietnamese Institute of Human Rights of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

What was your research project about?

Business and human rights, in particular about the human rights impact of hydropower dams in Vietnam.

Why this topic?

This particular topic is within my area of expertise, and I consider it an important issue to study since during later years a large number of hydropower dams have been constructed and there is no recent study that has looked at the human rights aspects of this. Especially the human rights impact of the resettlement process of people living on the land where the hydropower dams have been constructed is understudied. So it is a new area of investigation but also within my area of expertise.

What have you learned from participating in the programme?

The first thing I want to point out is that it was the first time for me to participate as a presenter in an international conference. Even if I had participated in conferences before, I had never done it as a presenter to present my own research. So the SEAHRN conference in Malaysia was my first experience of being a presenter at an international conference. And this conference in Hanoi is one of the few national human rights conferences that are organized in Vietnam with a focus on human rights research, and also here I am participating as a presenter.

The other thing is that this programme has helped me to look closer at a specific research topic  that I  have not  had a chance to study  in such detail. The programme allowed me to investigate this new area of human rights, and also strengthened my research capacity.

What has been the biggest benefit of your participation?

The biggest benefit for me has been to strengthen my individual capacity to do human rights research that can be used at an international level. In this sense, it has been a practical exercise of the research process: forming an idea, doing the research, writing the research paper, and presenting it. And this has forced me to push myself more and to put up new goals for what I want to achieve. My next step is to try to publish my paper as an article in an international journal; that is the aim that I have now.

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