Experts: All members should be included in ASEAN human rights body

This is Xinhua’s second news report on the 7th Workshop held in Singapore, 12 – 13 June 2008.

13 June 2008

Experts: All members should be included in ASEAN human rights body

SINGAPORE, June 13 (Xinhua) — Most participants from the two-day workshop of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said here on Friday that all the 10-members, including Myanmar, should be included in a future human rights body for the regional organization.

Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said most people felt that it would be better if all countries could be part of the future human rights body.

Most experts attending the ASEAN human rights workshop supported the idea of inclusion of all ASEAN members, but some of them thought that a human rights body for ASEAN should proceed only with a coalition of the willing, Tay said.

From Tay’s point of view, the establishment of a human rights body for ASEAN would be difficult but not impossible.

Meanwhile, Tommy Koh, the city state’s ambassador-at-large, admitted that there existed a division within the regional body between the countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, which have national rights commissions, and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN cherishes a policy of non-interference in domestic affairs of members, and under its charter, which was signed here by the ASEAN leaders at its annual summit later last year, a human rights body would be set up for the organization in the future.

Singapore’s Second Foreign Minister Raymond Lim stressed on Thursday that ASEAN must not set artificial deadlines for the creation of a new institution simply in order to establish one.

He also noted that 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.

The results of the workshop here will be reported to the panel drafting terms of reference for the human rights body.

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