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Official Gazette

Sunday, July 25, 2021

New rural conventions and the State law 

Updated: 14:51’ - 31/03/2011

To Dong Hai

The success of the August 1945 Revolution and the restoration of peace in the northern part of the country in 1954 brought a completely new face to the Vietnamese countryside. The disappearance of feudal village and commune structure has entailed the non-existence of “huong uoc” (village code). Villages were reformed after the model of the people’s democratic administration, being no longer considered the grassroots administrative units as before. Moreover, the socialist construction after the concentrated and State-subsidy model with agricultural cooperatives becoming economic entities in the countryside made the traditional villages loose their role in the management of village society and the preservation of cultural values.

Yet, in 1988, the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee promulgated Resolution 10 on the assignment of the right to long-term and stable land use to peasants. In the period of “doi moi” (renewal) the family household has no longer been an unit totally dependent on the agricultural cooperatives and gradually resumed its role as an autonomous economic unit, becoming an important factor in the social and economic activities in the countryside. Together with such change, the position and role of the village in its capacity as a traditional population community with its own institution, its own customs and practices as well as belief, psychology, social characteristics have been reaffirmed.

Despite all these big changes in its social organization, the Vietnamese countryside still basically bears the appearance of small-sized and self-governed villages with more or less self-sufficing economy based on a high sense of village community cohesion. Under the social conditions when the legal system, though having been much improved, has still failed to cover all aspects of the daily life, especially in the countryside where social ties as well as many other issues have still been much more governed by customs and practices as well as village rules than by State laws, and where the inhabitants’ intellectual level is low with a large section of the population lacking knowledge about laws, the effect of the State laws remain not so high.

Such situation has led to the emergence of new rural conventions, which have, later, developed further into the conventions of population groups, wards in cities and towns as well as urbanized centers.

The re-appearance of “huong uoc” under the new name of “quy uoc lang” (village conventions) was first seen in a number of villages in the former province of Ha Bac (now split up into Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces). The Cultural Service of the province quickly grasped the situation and has, since 1991, developed this phenomenon into a movement for “building the cultured villages” with the following criteria:

1. Having the cultured village convention;

2. Having good economic development;

3. Having adequate institutions to organize cultural activities.

4. Having a diversified and healthy cultural and spiritual life.  

The movement quickly spread throughout the province. By the end of 1992, there had been more than 500 villages in Ha Bac having the cultured village conventions. In June 1993, the Culture and Information Service of Ha Bac province organized an workshop on “building the cultured village conventions in Ha Bac province” with the participation of a large number of cultural researchers, sociologists, State management officials and cultural activists.

In the light of the Resolution of the fifth plenum of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, held in June 1993, which encouraged the elaboration and implementation of codes, rules and regulations on civilized ways of living in villages and communes, the movement for building village codes and cultured villages has widely spread to many provinces and cities throughout the country. In 1995, the Ministry of Justice coordinated with the People’s Committee of Hai Hung province in organizing the seminar titled “the role of village codes in building the countryside of a new style and the State management over the elaboration and implementation of village codes.” In June 1996, the Resolution of the eight National Party Congress confirmed the democratic institution with the formation of law-compliant conventions and codes by people themselves. On June 19, 1998, the Prime Minister issued Directive No.24/CT-TTg directing and institutionalizing the formation of conventions on building the cultured villages, consolidating and promoting the people’s role in all aspects of the rural life and promoting democracy at the grassroots.

All those policies have laid the foundation for the compilation of new “huong uoc” or “quy uoc” (conventions) in almost all provinces and cities throughout the country. The village conventions have touched upon many aspects of the civil relations within the village community. They have been compiled, discussed, adopted and voluntarily implemented by local inhabitants.

Each new “huong uoc” contains specific provisions and regulations suitable to the conditions and characteristics of each locality but in service of the common objective of building the cultured villages. Basically, the new “huong uoc” contains two parts:

Part One principally outlines the geographical and historical backgrounds of the villages and raises the question of building the cultured villages. For example: The convention of Luong Xa cultured village in Lam Dien commune, Chuong My district of Ha Tay province wrote: “According to archeological documents, Luong Xa used to be a stretch of waste swampy land lying along Bo De river. Our forefathers came to reclaim this virgin land and settle down here, having named our village Mac Xa, then renamed Luong Xa of Chuong Duc district, Ha Dong province.. Luong Xa has thousand years-old culture, having become the land of literature with many people obtaining high academic degrees: 10 dukes and 12 doctors…” On the question of building the cultured village convention, it said: “Families are cells of the society. Every family and every family member shall have to register to build the cultured families and well implement four criteria of the cultured family:

- Leading a harmonious, happy and progressive life;

- Practicing family planning.

- Promoting unity and mutual assistance among villagers.

- Well fulfilling the citizens’ obliga-tions…”.

Part Two contains general and specific provisions. The general provisions dwell on village members, activities, social organizations, family lines, families in the village. Meanwhile, the specific provisions cover the organization of the Steering Board for building the cultured village, the civilized way of living, village order and security, activities of each family, education, behaviors, wedding, funerals, new year festivals, rituals, production and protection thereof, the construction of cultural infrastructure, the setting up of information teams, singing and dancing teams, organization of entertainment and recreation in the village.

It can be said that though diversified in forms and presentation, new “huong uoc” are unified in their purpose of building villages, population quarters and groups, which inherit and further promote the fine traditions and habits as well as the civilized way of living of the former population communities so as to make every people respect and assist one another in relations characterized by civilized code of conduct. These new conventions also aim to create a healthy cultural environment, build a disciplined society where people strictly adhere to the common objective of protecting the people’s mastery as well as legitimate interests, maintaining social order and security, combating all criminal acts, raising the people’s sense of law observance, building and defending the Fatherland so as to achieve a rich people, strong country and an equitable and civilized society.

All the new conventions have been put up for comments by local inhabitants and various organizations such as the Fatherland Front Committees, the War Veterans’ Associations, the Elderly’s Society, the Women Union, the Youth Union. Upon the completion of their compilation, the conventions have been approved by the village (ward) People’s Committees for use as legal basis for the implementation thereof.

Therefore, the new conventions on building villages, population quarters or clusters… do not run counter to State laws as well as fine traditions and customs in the localities. Instead, they have contributed to enhancing the effect of the State laws, making the provisions thereof easily enter the people’s daily life and become close to them and at the same time to bringing into full play the fine customs and practices of each village, each hamlet, each city ward and each locality. Article 14 of the Civil Code of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has clearly stated: “In cases where the law does not provide for and the parties do not come to an agreement, customs or analogy of law may be applied, provided that such applications are not contrary to the basic principles of this Code.”

The new rural contentions constitute the high unity between law and people’s aspiration, thus contributing to expanding and enhancing the effect of the State laws for the uniform purpose of building a strong, stable and sustainable state.-



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