Vietnamese Civil Society: Recent Challenges and Prospects


About the Webinar

Civil society in Vietnam has expanded significantly in the 21st century with the advent of social media and the formation of numerous registered and unregistered groups and networks. The forms and characteristics of Vietnamese civil society differ markedly from (mostly Western-based) theoretical ideals, yet its actors have successfully influenced policies, cooperated with state and market institutions, and, to a lesser extent, affected public opinion. While state restrictions have continued, civil society capabilities have increased to “walk the tightrope” of government, donor, and public demands. The pressures on civic space have intensified since 2016 with heightened regulatory and extra-legal enforcement, combined with donor withdrawal. Civil society groups have experienced these shifts unevenly across sectors and regions. Some registered organizations have begun to face consequences that were previously experienced only by unregistered activists.

This webinar will present examples of civil society actions over the past decade and examine prospects for Vietnamese civil society’s survival and effectiveness. To what extent is civil society facing temporary setbacks, or a permanent reversal? And absent high-level policy changes, what can Vietnamese civic actors and their supporters do to remain viable in an era of Party dominance?

About the Speaker

Andrew Wells-Dang is a practitioner and scholar of civil society and governance in Asia. From 1997 to 2019, he worked as a researcher and international NGO representative in Vietnam, China, Laos, and Cambodia, including as Vietnam representative of Catholic Relief Services and senior governance advisor at Oxfam. While in Vietnam, he co-managed the Advocacy Coalition Support Program and Justice Initiatives Facilitation Fund, donor-funded programs to foster multi-stakeholder cooperation on environmental and social policy issues in Vietnam. Andrew is the author of Civil Society Networks in China and Vietnam: Informal Pathbreakers in Health and the Environment (Palgrave Macmillan) and holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Birmingham. He currently works as Senior Expert in the Southeast Asia Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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Apr 07 2022


10:00 am - 11:00 am