As a multi-ethnic country, Vietnam has 54 recognized ethnic groups, 53 of which are Ethnic Minority (EM) groups. These groups comprise an estimated 14.1 million people or around 14.7% of the country’s total population of about 96 million. Each EM group has its own distinct language, culture and traditions. The term “ethnic minorities” is often used interchangeably with “Indigenous Peoples” by international agencies working in Vietnam.
All EM have Vietnamese citizenship, and Vietnam’s constitution recognizes that all people have equal rights. Among EM communities, there is a higher proportion of peoples living in poverty. Multidimensional poverty rates in the Northern Mountains and Central Highlands regions, where the majority of EM live, is more than two times higher than the national average. The proportion of people without education certificates in EM groups is double that of the Kinh and Hoa (Chinese-Vietnamese) ethnic groups. In addition, the gaps in income and expenditure between the EM and Kinh and Hoa people have widened over recent years.
Vietnam is a member of seven out of nine core international human rights instruments and continues to consider the possibility of accession to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (CPED) and the International Convention on the Protection of all Rights of Migrant Workers and their families (ICRMW). Vietnam has not ratified ILO Convention No.169 and, although Vietnam voted in favour of the UNDRIP, it does not recognize ethnic minorities as Indigenous Peoples.