Ethnic Minorities Working Group Terms of Reference (TOR)

April 2007


In recent years, despite great efforts and determination by the Government of Vietnam and by international development organisations including INGOs, the rate of poverty among ethnic minority people in Vietnam remains high. Further improvement and effort is needed from all sides and at all levels, to address this issue. The Ethnic Minorities Working Group in Vietnam (EMWG) includes NGOs and other development agencies and professionals who share this concern, and who exchange ideas and 'lessons learned' about how to improve development policy and practice for the benefit of ethnic minority peoples. The EMWG functions under the auspices of the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre (which is a partnership between the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, and foreign NGOs operating in Vietnam), in accordance with the Government of Vietnam’s policies related to ethnic minorities.


To improve the impact of EMWG members’ work on the livelihoods of ethnic minorities, by increasing collaboration and coordinated efforts among members and other stakeholders.



Sharing and Disseminating Informations
EMWG provides a forum for discussion regarding development issues related to ethnic minorities in Vietnam. EMWG disseminates information as widely as possible regarding international conventions on indigenous people, laws, policies, research, documentation of projects, programmes and resources (human, financial, etc.) relating to ethnic minorities.

Improving the Development Practice of Member Organisations
EMWG participants share experience, best practice and lessons learned from the development practice, theories, and approaches both outside and inside Vietnam in order to improve the impact (quality and quantity) of their development interventions.

Policy Dialogue
Sharing experiences and information related to ethnic minorities leads to improved development practices and policies among members and their partner organisations, which creates a venue for dialogue with relevant government, donor institutions, organisations, researchers and ethnic minority people.

Facilitating the voice of ethnic minority people
EMWG facilitates different mechanisms for ethnic people to voice their opinions on the development projects and influencing policies/decision that affect their lives.



EMWG meets every two months. This bimonthly meeting is the main forum for information sharing and activity planning, which contribute to achieving the Group’s objectives (see above). Additionally, an expert speaker is normally invited to the bimonthly meeting, to contribute to discussion on a topic of current interest to the members. Between these bimonthly meetings, occasional workshops, discussions and events may be arranged to meet the needs and interests of members, and/or to coincide with new opportunities or ethnic minority development issues. EMWG seeks to serve the interests of a diverse participation, taking care to include the interests of Vietnamese NGOs. In order to maintain its relevance, EMWG seeks to involve ethnic minority people as much as possible in its activities. In order to promote dialogue and progress, EMWG will seek to develop links with other NGO working groups, Vietnamese government agencies and donor agencies. EMWG welcomes all those who are concerned to reduce poverty among ethnic minorities in Vietnam to attend its meetings. EMWG is managed by a 'core group' of International NGOs. The Core Group assigns responsibilities to a Secretariat which maintains EMWG on a day-to-day basis. EMWG encourages development agencies working with ethnic minorities in Vietnam – non-government and government, Vietnamese and international – to inform the EMWG Secretariat of their initiatives and activities. EMWG can share this information with other agencies which have similar interests, thereby increasing the range of opportunities for mutual learning, and improvement of development practice.


The structure of EMWG is described below:



Core Group
EMWG is managed by a core group of six INGOs who are most active within EMWG. From 2002-2004, members of the Core Group are Caritas Switzerland (Chair), Rural Development Services Centre (RDSC), Oxfam GB, Oxfam Hong Kong, and Enfants et Developpement (EED). During 2004-2006, Core Group are Enfants et Developpement (Chair), Save Children UK, Caritas Switzerland, Oxfam GB, Oxfam HK and Helvetas. In 2007, Care International joined the Core as the 7th member. In 2008, Oxfam GB continues to take the lead, and Helvetas will no longer be as a Core member due to their changing in priorities. The VUFO-NGO Resource Centre Co-Director also often participates in core group meetings. Other NGOs are welcome to participate in Core Group meetings at any time.

The Core Group has the following responsibilities:

   1. To assist in setting the direction of EMWG, including revision of the Terms of Reference, and planning events and

   2. To manage and support the ‘Secretariat’ (see below)
   3. To organise EMWG meetings (agree topics and speakers, manage logistics, chairing and minuting) and organise other

       EMWG events and activities
   4. To manage funds (raising funds for EMWG events/activities, and accounting for income and expenditure)
   5. To ensure that EMWG events/activities continue to provide relevant and effective responses to the needs of EMWG

       participant organisations and to the needs of ethnic minorities themselves.

The Secretariat provides a focal point for communications between EMWG members, the Core Group, the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre, and the outside world. The Secretariat is established and maintained by the Core Group. It is based now in the INGO Resource Centre. Its role and responsibilities are fully reviewed by the Core Group in November each year.


General responsibilities of the Secretariat are as follows:

   1. Information: to maintain information relevant to EMWG and its participants.

   2. Communication: to reply to correspondence addressed to EMWG; to take a proactive role in corresponding with EMWG

       participants, the Core Group, the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre and the ‘outside world’ regarding upcoming issues

       relating to EMWG and its work; and to generally facilitate the transfer of information between interested organisations

       and individuals.
   3. Coordination: to coordinate some EMWG events/activities as assigned by the Core Group.

Participation includes those Vietnamese and International NGOs and development organisations with a special interest to improve the livelihoods of ethnic minorities in Vietnam, who agree with the Group’s overall goal and objectives.
The role and responsibilities of participants are as below:

   1. To formulate and approve the goal and objectives of the EMWG
   2. To review the membership of the Core Group on an annual basis
   3. To participate in planning of EMWG events/activities
   4. To propose joint events, activities, and speakers
   5. To participate in meetings
   6. To participate in joint events and activities according to their interest
   7. To support joint events and activities according to their interest and capacity
   8. To communicate their needs and interests to the Core Group
   9. To monitor and evaluate the work & impact of EMWG and the Core Group

In addition to normal NGO participants, other interested organizations and individuals, including donor agencies, government representatives, and researchers, are welcome to join EMWG meetings and other activities.