ASEAN rights body sets out priority areas

The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions highlights developments to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

ASEAN rights body sets out priority areas
The ASEAN secretariat and newly-appointed members of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights are currently in the process of developing the rules of procedure for the new body and determining its strategic priorities.

An initial draft of the commission’s regulations will be ready for its first official meeting in Jakarta next month, while a five-year working plan will be completed by July.

Thailand’s nominee to AICHR, Commissioner Sriprapha Petcharamesree last week met with representatives of Thai civil society groups and advised them that the AICHR’s priorities for the coming year include:
* raising awareness of AICHR
* starting the process of drafting an ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, and
* undertaking two studies, one on corporate social responsibility and one on migration.

Ms Sriprapha has told the Bangkok Post that public meetings – held in Bangkok and four other regions – would be organised to outline what the regional human rights body will do and to gather information for the AICHR as it further determines its strategic priorities.

The regional rights body was launched at an ASEAN regional summit in Hua Hin last October.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened the summit by defending the rights body against criticism that it was powerless to rein in members that breached its rules, such as army-ruled Burma and communist Vietnam and Laos.

Mr Abhisit said the creation of the commission was a significant milestone in the evolution of ASEAN.

However, the human rights body has been widely criticised for focusing on promotion, rather than protection, of human rights. The UN has urged leaders to make the commission credible.

ASEAN says it will review the body’s powers in five years.

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