Social Justice, Socialism, Vietnam | 2024-06-03

Grassroots Democracy in Ethnic Minority Areas

Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences – Institute of Philosophy (since 2018)

The 2021 international academic conference funded by RLS at the Institute of Philosophy

The Vietnamese state has made great strides in extending the democratic rights of its people. Over the past decades, a system of grassroots democracy was established and continuously expanded upon. Citizens are now able to actively participate in the decision-making that is affecting their daily lives. Yet, the practical application of grassroots democracy faces significant challenges in ethnic minority areas. In these rural and often inaccessible terrains, historical and cultural particularities complicate its implementation. This lack of democratic participation in ethnic minority areas, in turn, threatens to intensify the economic and social marginalization of its inhabitants. Thus, it has become urgent to devise measures that enable ethnic minority people to fully exercise their democratic rights and to be involved in shaping communal policies.

The Institute of Philosophy of the Vietnam Academy for Social Sciences (IoP-VASS) and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (RLS) are striving to do just that. Since 2018, IoP-VASS and RLS carried out a series of projects focused on strengthening grassroots democracy to achieve greater social justice for ethnic minorities. Scholars examined Marx’s writings and held international conferences to discern lessons for the Vietnamese context. They conducted qualitative surveys and in-depth interviews in ethnic minority areas across the country. Based on garnered feedback, the scholars designed training curriculums for grassroots officials as well as ethnic minority populations themselves. The trainings raised awareness on the people’s democratic rights and effective ways to exercise and protect them. In 2022, IoP-VASS focused on the role of ethnic minority cadres. It was shown that representation of ethnic minorities within official positions and grassroots democratic institutions leads to increased trust and participation.

In 2024, IoP-VASS and RLS launched the three-year project “Ho Chi Minh and Rosa Luxemburg on Democracy”. Both of these socialist thinkers are renowned for their forceful insistence on democratic values. Building on their legacies, the project intends to reflect and expand on IoP-VASS’ previous research. The results will not only be published in academic reports, but also inform IoP-VASS’ official policy recommendations to the 14th congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam that will be held in 2026. Through these avenues, RLS and IoP-VASS are bound to strengthen the role of grassroots democracy in bringing about social justice in ethnic minority areas.

Institute of Philosophy (IoP)

IoP of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) was established in 1962 as an important research institution under the government of Vietnam. It is tasked with studying the political challenges from a philosophical perspective as well as with contributing to the scientific basis of party guidelines and state laws.

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