Giles Lever, UK Ambassador to Vietnam

Giles Lever

British Ambassador to Vietnam

Part of UK in Vietnam

4th July 2017 Hanoi, Vietnam

The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is

Those of you who follow our UKinVietnam Facebook page closely will know that the UK believes strongly in the value of a vibrant and dynamic media. The media plays a vital role in providing reliable and accurate information, and giving people the opportunity to discuss and debate issues freely. That is why I’m proud of our record of working with official and citizen journalists, the government as well as civil society to promote professionalism, ethical conduct and the protection of journalists.

A free media also promotes transparency. The new Government has shown that it is committed to addressing state and private sector corruption which pose a long-term threat to Vietnam’s sustainable economic growth. And as Mr Nguyen Van Thanh, Deputy Inspectorate General, noted in his interview with our Embassy’s Communications Team last week, the media should be at the forefront of efforts to tackle corruption.

Every year the UN organises an international conference to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. This year the conference took place in Jakarta with the theme ‘Critical minds for critical times: the media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies’. One of our close partners in Vietnam Tran Nhat Minh from RED Communications was invited to attend the conference and take part in a roundtable discussion on how to promote freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in South East Asia. He kindly agreed to share some of his thoughts and observations.

“In South East Asia there is an absence of an independent regional authority that can strengthen, monitor and protect the fundamental human right of freedom of expression which includes access to information, press freedom and the safety of journalists. The creation of such a mechanism, whether in the form of a Special Rapporteur, a commission, or something different altogether, would have a positive impact on the overall development of a free, independent and pluralistic media environment, in line with international standards. To achieve this ambitious goal RED proposed a system of civil-society press organisations to monitor freedom of expression and safeguard journalists. But while no agreement was reached at the conference on setting up a formal mechanism we made a lot of progress and it’s important to continue the discussions.”

A roundtable discussion at World Press Freedom Day 2017 Conference in Indonesia (Photo: Tran Nhat Minh)

Participants at the conference called on all UNESCO member states to support the development of quality journalism, investigative journalism and a free media to deliver quality and accurate information and create the space for healthy public debate. Which as we know underpins the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies – the theme of Press Freedom Day 2017. It’s in our shared mutual interest that Vietnam continues to grow as a modern, creative and innovative society. And while I was putting the finishing touches to this blog, I was reminded of a quote from Warren Buffett – “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves – and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

About Giles Lever

I’ve been ambassador to Vietnam since July 2014. It’s a great privilege to serve as ambassador anywhere, but I’m particularly delighted to be back working for British interests in a…

I’ve been ambassador to Vietnam since July 2014. It’s a great privilege to serve as ambassador anywhere, but I’m particularly delighted to be back working for British interests in a country and a region I know well.

My very first job in the FCO, in 1991, was in the Southeast Asia Department, and that was followed by a posting to Vietnam from 1993-97 – an exciting time, as the “doi moi” process of economic reform and opening up gathered pace.

East Asia has been a bit of a theme in my career, as I also worked at the British Embassy in Tokyo from 2002-2006 (preceded by two years learning Japanese). But I’ve also been fortunate enough to work on a lot of other interesting regions and issues, including on the Middle East and North Africa, international development, and arms control/security. Immediately before coming back to Hanoi, I was Deputy High Commissioner in Abuja, Nigeria.

Outside of work, when I have time, I like running, reading, exploring, and trying to stay in touch from afar with the fortunes of Bolton Wanderers FC. Many of my Vietnamese friends love Premier League football, and are invariably disappointed to hear that the team I support is not in the Premiership!

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