On December 4, 2017, IGE and its Vietnamese government partner, Vietnam-USA Society (VUS), signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to extend their partnership on religious freedom projects in Vietnam from 2017-2022. The signing took place in Washington, D.C. between IGE Executive Director James Chen and VUS Vice President Don Tuan Phong.
In October, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) executive director James Chen and Vietnam program manager Hien Vu conducted an annual visit to Vietnam to strengthen relationships with government and religious partners in our ongoing efforts to promote religious freedom. During the visit, IGE surveyed Christian and Buddhist community organizations engaged in innovative and inspiring work in ministering to drug addicts and people living with HIV/AIDS. James Chen also spoke at Vietnam National University's School of Social Sciences and Humanities on the importance of religious freedom to economic development and societal flourishing.
From 7 to 10 March 2017 the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), in collaboration with its American and Vietnamese partners, conducted a “Religion and Rule of Law” (RROL) certificate program in Pleiku city, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam. This was the sixth RROL program that IGE has conducted in Vietnam and the first program held in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, a region that has faced decades of ethnic and religious tensions.
In September, IGE and its government and grassroots partners conducted two seminars on promoting the positive role of religion in Vietnam.
On 7 July 2015, at the request of the Vietnamese Embassy, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) convened a delegation of U.S. faith leaders to meet with the general secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, in Washington, D.C.
From 10-31 July, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) made an official visit to Vietnam and conducted the third Religion and Rule of Law Certificate (R&ROL) program in Da Nang. During the visit, IGE president Dr. Chris Seiple and program manager Hien Vu met with government officials and faith leaders in Ha Noi and Da Nang to discuss various projects on religious freedom for 2014-2016. The projects will include advanced training on religion and rule of law, religion and citizenship dialogues, and conflict transformation and mediation trainings.
From 14-23 July, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) is conducting a 10-day training program on religion and rule of law in Da Nang, Vietnam. This is the third program in series of trainings in Vietnam conducted by IGE, Brigham Young University, and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities-Hanoi (USSH) at the Vietnam National University.
The John Templeton Foundation (JTF) has awarded IGE with a $2.5 million multi-year grant for IGE’s work in Southeast Asia. The grant will provide advanced training and publications on religion and the rule of law in multiple countries in the region.
From 24-29 September, an international delegation led by the Institute for Global Engagement made its annual trip to Vietnam and Laos. Building upon 10+ years of engagement on religious freedom in both countries, highlights included conducting the second 10-day training program on religion and rule of law within one year in Vietnam—a metric indicating the high level of interest and eagerness by the Vietnamese government to explore international standards and practices on policymaking on religious freedom—and discussions with senior leaders from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Lao Front for National Construction’s Department of Religious Affairs in Laos, where open and frank dialogue occurred on Decree 92 and the government’s movement towards a more sustainable and equitable policy on religion and religious freedom.
From 22 September-5 October, IGE will send a delegation to Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). The trip will allow delegates the opportunity to see the impact of IGE’s work, first hand, based upon 10+ years of engagement in the region. While in Southeast Asia, delegates will observe IGE co-sponsored conferences that systematically equip local government and religious leaders to make the case from within their own cultural context that religious freedom is essential for a stable and prosperous society.
On 19 June 2013, the Vietnamese Embassy and IGE hosted an unprecedented series of events to discuss religious freedom in Vietnam. Events included a breakfast dialogue between the Vietnamese government and participants of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable (a non-partisan consortium of Washington-area NGOs that IGE co-founded and co-chairs); a roundtable discussion on “Vietnam’s Policy on Religious Freedom;” and, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony between Vietnamese and American institutions to conduct comparative studies on religion and rule of law. These events were conducted in conjunction with a Vietnamese delegation of scholars and officials working on religious affairs during their study tour of the U.S (June 18-25, 2013) as facilitated by IGE and Brigham Young University (BYU).
The Institute for Global Engagement, in partnership with Brigham Young University, hosted a Vietnamese delegation to Washington, D.C., and Utah, to exchange mutual perspectives on religious freedom in the U.S. and Vietnam. The delegation included the leadership of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities at Vietnam National University, which signed agreements with IGE and BYU to do comparative studies on religion and rule of law in Vietnam and the U.S. The goal of this research is to make policy recommendations to the Vietnamese government. Just as significantly, the Vietnamese government will consider funding this research—which would be a historical milestone for Vietnam, and IGE’s work there, signifying a change of mindset, and policy. As one delegate remarked at the conclusion of the trip: “There is great support and openness from the American government, NGOs, and civil society towards Vietnam in the process of developing public policy on religion.”
The Institute for Global Engagement and the Vietnamese Government Committee for Religious Affairs (CRA) convened 186 local government authorities in the Son La province of Northwest Vietnam, where they were trained on Vietnam’s policies regarding religious freedom.
On 14 May 2013, at the request of the Vietnamese Embassy, the Institute for Global Engagement convened a delegation from the Central Commission for Mass Mobilization of the Vietnamese Communist Party (CCMB). In attendance were Department of State officials Lauren E. Baer, member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and Tomicah Tillemann, Chair of the State Department’s Federal Advisory Committee on Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. Also in attendance were U.S.-based experts Brian Grim, Director of Cross-National Data and Senior Researcher, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, and Dr. Chris Seiple, President of the Institute for Global Engagement.
From 13-17 April 2013, IGE's Vietnam Program Officer Hien Vu facilitated two Conflict Resolution Skills Workshops in Hanoi and the Quang Ninh province of Vietnam. The workshops trained a total of 147 Christians on conflict management.
From 27 March – 9 April 2013, IGE collaborated with the Vietnamese Government Committee for Religious Affairs (CRA) to conduct three training seminars for registered and unregistered Protestant church faith leaders on religious policy. The seminars took place in rural Northwest and Northeast provinces, Lao Cai, Cao Bang, and Ha Giang. The seminars focused on raising awareness of religious rights, civil obligation, and government's protection of religious freedom, and on encouraging cross-ethnicity unity.
From November-December 2012, IGE traveled to several Southeast Asian countries. In Vietnam, IGE facilitated the first-ever Religion and Rule of Law Certificate Program, signed a new agreement with Vietnam to govern its various partnerships over the next five years, and co-conducted the 3rd Protestantism Roundtable. In Laos, IGE met with Lao government partners and met with faith leaders to discuss the state of religious freedom in Laos. Finally, Dr. Chris Seiple took his first trip to Myanmar where he met with faith leaders to learn of the situation and discern if IGE might contribute to Myanmar's transition.
From 26 November to 5 December 2012, IGE, Brigham Young University, and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi co-conducted the first-ever ten day certificate training program on Religion and the Rule of Law in Vietnam. The purpose of the certificate program was to train an emerging generation of scholars, government officials, judges, and religious leaders on international and comparative approaches to religion and the rule of law.