Vietnam and Sweden have long lasting, strong and friendly relations as Sweden was one of the first Western countries to start development cooperation in Vietnam. The initial reason was the deep poverty that Vietnam had to struggle with after the war.
Alongside with the developments of Vietnam the Swedish assistance changed and has focused on supporting the reforms that came after Doi moi in 1989.
Vietnam’s poverty reduction and economic growth in the last 15 years are one of the success stories in economic development. Vietnam has also achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, a widespread corruption and climate change are the threats for future sustainable development of Vietnam. Vietnam is a one party system which leads to weak rule of law and violations of mainly civil and political aspects of the Universal Human Rights.
Vietnam – a country in transition
As a result of the rapid changes and reforms in all aspects of the Vietnamese society and country development during the recent 20 years naturally, the Swedish development assistance has also changed over time.
In the early days of 1969 the support mainly included humanitarian assistance and infrastructure projects. Over the years the development cooperation focused on supporting institutions, and government’s reform in achieving poverty reduction in different areas like rural development, environmental policies, health sector, freedom of speech and expression through culture and media.
The most recent years a strong priority was to support the strengthening of rule of law and the human rights of most vulnerable persons. This resulted in for example; access to legal aid for the poorest, improvement of legal education, master students with a Swedish law degree and a stronger cadre of independent lawyers through the newly established Vietnamese BAR. Through the rural development programme Chia Se participation in local decision-making was enhanced and rural households were empowered.
A new Cooperation Strategy (2009 - 2013)
The main priorities were very clear and pointed at a change in relation, moving from traditional development cooperation to partner-driven cooperation, emphasizing the mutual interest between NGOs, institutions, Governmental agencies and private companies. The objective is to establish a number of partnerships with the potential to become self-supporting in the longer term.
However, two strategic thematic areas remains high on the cooperation agenda, namely environment and democracy. The goals are (i) to strengthen capacity for the management of a sustainable use of natural resources and the environment, and increased awareness and capacity to cope with the impact of climate change, (ii) support a pluralistic society in which individual citizens can exercise their rights and claim accountability.
Support to an emerging civil society other non-governmental actors is also an important complement to Swedish cooperation with public authorities.
The total volume of Swedish assistance is estimated to SEK 530 million in the strategy period.