Xinhua news: ASEAN not to set deadlines for creation of new institution

This is Xinhua’s news story on the 7th Workshop, held in Singapore, June 12-13, 2008, reporting on Singapore Transport Minister Raymond Lim’s keynote address.

12 June 2008

ASEAN not to set deadlines for creation of new institution

SINGAPORE, June 12 (Xinhua) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must not set artificial deadlines for the creation of a new institution simply in order to establish one, said Singapore’s Second Foreign Minister Raymond Lim on Thursday.

Any new ASEAN institution must have the support of all the 10 member states to reflect the region’s complexity, diversity and realities in all fields, he said.

He also said advancing the human rights agenda within the regional grouping should be achieved through an evolutionary approach.

He suggested these three broad criteria in his speech at a workshop on the ASEAN regional mechanism on human rights here on Thursday.

At the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in July, a High Level Panel will draft the terms of reference of the ASEAN human rights body, which is contained in the ASEAN Charter signed by the leaders at their summit in Singapore last November.

“This will start an important new ASEAN process. Let us have no illusions that the road ahead will be easy,” said Lim, adding “civil society will have an important role in providing ideas and suggestions for the High Level Panel. But we should not prejudge its work.”

He also said, “we are engaged in an unprecedented enterprise for ASEAN and should take a step-by-step and consultative approach. We should cross the river by feeling the stones beneath our feet.”

He said that ASEAN must ensure that this human rights body is credible and meaningful to its members, and realism is needed to establish consensus.

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