In the twenty years that the United States and Vietnam have reestablished relations, barriers of mistrust and misunderstanding continue to fall. This has made possible an honest dialogue on human rights and democratic freedoms. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that it is in Vietnam's interest to respect human rights.
"The freedom to speak, freedom to worship, to travel, to acquire knowledge and information," said Secretary Kerry, "these are essentials."
While the United States respects differences in basic structures of governance, there are basic principles that the U.S. will always defend: No one should be punished for speaking their mind so long as they are peaceful; and if trading goods flow freely between the U.S. and Vietnan, so should information and ideas. And the U.S. believes that progress in upholding these basic human rights will serve Vietnam’s interests in several ways.
First, international norms and standards protect Vietnam; Vietnam rightly appeals to them when its interests are threatened. It is important, therefore, for the Vietnamese government to respect those standards and norms without exception.
Second, giving people peaceful outlets for expressing grievances – whether it’s a blogger who exposes corruption or a farmer who complains about a land grab – decreases the chance that people will resort to violence and get their message across. Giving full recognition to these rights in the law will increase trust between citizens and their state, and between workers and their employers. It will strengthen social cohesion and stability, said Secretary Kerry.
Finally, progress on human rights and the rule of law will provide the foundation for a deeper and more sustainable strategic partnership between the United States and Vietnam. America’s closest partnerships in the world are with countries that share a commitment to certain values, including respect for human rights.
So, while there are "steep hills yet to climb," said Secretary Kerry, "and hard choices to make for [the U.S.-Vietnam] partnership to reach its full potential."
The United States remains "dedicated to a future of prosperity, peace and freedom for all."