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Press Release: The AICHR Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 1 – 3 December 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 4 December, 2015

On 1st to 3rd December 2015, the ASEAN Intergovernmental on Human Rights (AICHR) successfully convened its first Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community with the support of Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). The regional dialogue was led by the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot. The event was also conducted in commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3rd December), with its theme of “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities”.

The regional dialogue was one of the three activities on persons with disabilities in the ASEAN region.  It aimed to raise awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and find common regional approaches and strategies towards mainstreaming these rights both at the ASEAN and ASEAN Member States (AMS) levels. The regional dialogue highlighted the structural challenge of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities across the three pillars of ASEAN.

It was attended by distinguished guests and expert speakers, which included the Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN, H.E. Koichi Aiboshi, ACWC Representatives, SOMSWD Representatives, AICHR Representatives,  Attached to the Secretariat of Prime Minister Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ms Anusree Tubsuwan, Member of the Legislative Assembly and Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Mr Monthian Buntan, and General Manager of Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), Mr. Ryuhei Sano. The regional dialogue was also attended by representatives from Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), social welfare ministries, lawmakers, universities, UN bodies, media practitioners, and from the private sectors from ASEAN Member States.

The three-day regional dialogue discussed topics pertaining to good practices and lessons learned in mainstreaming the promotion and protection of the rights persons with disabilities, national responses to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, making the rights of persons with disabilities a reality, and gender perspectives in realising the rights of persons with disabilities. The expert speakers from ASEAN member states and overseas including Japan shared national experiences in promoting an inclusive and productive society for persons with disabilities.

In 2016, the AICHR is planning to conduct the next two activities to follow up on the success of the Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community. The activities will focus on the development of Regional Plan of Actions or Guidelines for the Mainstreaming of the Rights of PWDs, including Training on the Rights of Persons with Disability for ASEAN stakeholders.

Press Release of the 19th Meeting of the AICHR, 27 – 29 November 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Posted on: 29 November, 2015

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) successfully convened its 19th Meeting from 27 to 29 November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the Chair of the AICHR and the Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR.

During the course of three days meeting, the Representatives of AICHR discussed several concept papers which will be implemented in 2016. The Meeting also agreed on a new thematic study it will undertake, namely the AICHR Thematic Study on Women Affected by Natural Disasters.

The Meeting was briefed on the outcome of recent AICHR Programmes and Activities, including the AICHR Programme on Human Rights Training of the Trainers for Journalists in ASEAN Member States, the AICHR Workshop on the Development of ASEAN Legal Instruments on Human Rights, the AICHR Regional Workshop on the Role of Youth in Promoting Human Rights in ASEAN: Making Rights a Reality and the AICHR – Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) Joint Workshop on Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in ASEAN.

In line with the recent adoption of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially for Women and Children (ACTIP) and the accompanying Regional Plan of Action, the AICHR looks forward for further collaboration with the SOMTC and other ASEAN Sectoral Bodies in the ASEAN in its efforts to mainstream human rights-based approach in the protection of victims of human trafficking.

The Meeting also discussed the applications by Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) seeking for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR. The list of successful applications will be announced in due course.

This Meeting marked the end of Malaysia’s Chairmanship of the AICHR, as well as the significant change of the AICHR membership in which majority of the AICHR Representatives will end their terms. The Meeting concluded with the handover of the AICHR’s chairmanship from the Representative of Malaysia to the Representative of Lao PDR, H.E. Phoukhong Sisoulath. The Representatives expressed their high appreciation to H.E. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for his hard work and excellent leadership over the past year.

The Meeting also thanked the government of Malaysia for the hospitality and excellent arrangements of the Meeting. The first AICHR Meeting in 2016 will be held in February in Lao PDR.

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR – SOMTC Joint Workshop on Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 5 – 6 November 2015, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Posted on: 9 November, 2015

As ASEAN draws closer to the adoption of the ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and the ASEAN Plan of Action (APA), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) organised its first ever joint workshop on “Human Rights-based Approach to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”. Among its objectives is an exchange of ideas between the AICHR, SOMTC, and other relevant ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies on how human rights and gender perspective should be applied under the ACTIP and its APA.

The Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, Mr. Rafendi Djamin, underlined that no ASEAN Member State (AMS) is free from the issue of trafficking of women and children, and that it takes place in any form – whether during or after disasters, in the movement of migrant labour, irregular migration caused by war, internal armed conflict, as well as extreme poverty. He emphasised that all forms of trafficking – including force labour, sex labour, or child force labour – are against human dignity and should not exist in modern era. He further stated that trafficking does not come in vacuum, but could be the excess of poverty, irregular migration, war and natural disaster. Finally, he identified that the crosscutting nature of trafficking of women and children could be a start for better cooperation and/or coordination amongst relevant organs/bodies/sectoral bodies of ASEAN.

The Joint Workshop brought together more than seventy (70) participants – coming from the AICHR, SOMTC, various relevant ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies, ASEAN Secretariat, relevant government agencies of AMS, National Human Rights Institutions of AMS, regional civil society organisations (CSOs), and United Nations (UN) specialised agencies.

 The Chair of SOMTC, H.E. Sieng Lapresse, preceded discussions with his Keynote Remarks – where he called upon participants to look into the affirmations contained in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD such as “to live in dignity”, freedom from “arbitrary interference with his or her privacy including personal data”, and “the right to free choice of employment”. He addressed that ASEAN should concentrate on the identification of the root cause on trafficking in persons. He viewed the Joint Workshop as the relevant forum and best opportunity for all stakeholders to initiate the development of the right legal structure and policies – building upon existing international law; the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons; Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; as well as the ASEAN Convention and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Discussions during plenary sessions touched upon human rights perspective on regional initiatives, priorities, as well as policies in combating trafficking in persons (TIPs); application of rights-based approaches towards the implementation on prevention of and protection from TIPs; and highlighted the issue of vulnerability of the people affected by disaster that could become victims of TIPs. Following joint presentation by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DMHA) Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, discussions on TIPs for the first time looked into how it could be prevented and punished in situations of natural, as well as man-made disasters.

Following the Joint Workshop, a special closed discussion session between the AICHR, SOMTC, and relevant ASEAN organs/bodies/sectoral bodies was held – aimed to synthesize their efforts in the prevention, protection, and cooperation in addressing the issue of TIPs. The session finally generated recommendations on possible ways forward to further cooperation. Amongst the possible ways forward, whether already put forward in a work plan of each ASEAN bodies, or in form of a developing idea, include – discussions to raise awareness and understanding on ACTIP and APA after its adoption; an annual meeting between the AICHR, SOMTC, ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMTC) and other ASEAN sectoral bodies related to the issue of TIPs; inviting each other in any activities related to TIPs and human rights; information sharing on programmes of activities on TIPs; identifying areas of cooperation on mutual interest as part of the implementation of ACTIP and APA (e.g. victims of TIPs identification); and the socialisation on the ACWC’s ‘Guidelines on Protection of Women in Trafficked Situations’ through consultation with other ASEAN bodies/sectoral bodies – following its expected adoption in the upcoming 27th ASEAN Summit.


PRESS RELEASE: AICHR Regional Workshop on the Role of Youth in Promoting Human Rights in ASEAN: Making Rights A Reality, 30 & 31 October 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Posted on: 2 November, 2015

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) led by H.E. Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the Representative of Malaysia to AICHR organized the “Regional Workshop on the Role of Youth in Promoting Human Rights in ASEAN: Making Rights A Reality” on 30 and 31 October 2015 at the Asia-Europe Institute of University of Malaya (AEI-UM), Kuala Lumpur.

The AICHR Regional Workshop was officiated by the Honourable Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia on 30 October 2015. The Opening Ceremony was also graced with the attendance of the Representatives and Alternate Representative of AICHR, Chairman of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Chairman of Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), Vice-Chancellor of University of Malaya, Director-General of ASEAN-Malaysia National Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Heads of ASEAN Mission and Dignitaries.

In his Keynote Address, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, informed that as the youth makes up more than 60% of the ASEAN’s population, they play an important role in shaping major social, economic and political advancements in the region. Hence, investment to nurture youth development and leadership across the 10 ASEAN Member States is pivotal so as to harness their full potential, enabling them to be the real transformative agents and valuable resources for development and upward social progress.

The Honourable Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican further informed that initiatives such as this Regional Workshop would empower the youth, enabling them to voice out their opinions in the society, and participate constructively in the policy-making and governance at national and international spheres. Therefore, human rights education and dialogues with the youth is one way to enable them to learn, understand and appreciate the ASEAN and the existing regional human rights mechanisms and principles that are unique to us.

The two-day Regional Workshop was jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Asia-Europe Institute of University of Malaya and SUHAKAM, with the support of National Partners such as Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia, Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), Centre for ASEAN Regionalism University of Malaya (CARUM), Malaysian Youth Council (MBM), Malaysian Youth Parliament, International Youth Centre (IYC) and Malaysian Youth Academy.

The Workshop brought together a line of competent speakers and discussants among the Representatives of AICHR, representatives of relevant government agencies, Malaysia’s National Human Rights Institution, academia and human rights experts to share their thoughts and expertise on ASEAN and human rights issues in the region.

It was participated by nearly 100 youth participants under the age of 30 years consisting of youth representatives from ASEAN Member States, Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation (CAYC) and youth representatives from various Malaysia’s youth associations.


Posted on: 24 October, 2015

On 19 and 20 October 2015, the EU and ASEAN held a first policy dialogue on Human Rights as part of a one-week visit in Brussels of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Commission on the promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Migrant Workers (ACMW) and the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC).

This policy dialogue results from the agreement of EU and ASEAN Ministers at the 20th EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels on 23 July 2014, to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law through exchange of good practices, information, dialogues, seminars and capacity building initiatives. In doing so, it built on the study visits to EU undertaken by the AICHR and ACWC in 2011 and 2013 as well as visits of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, to Jakarta in 2013 and 2014.

The first policy dialogue allowed for open and constructive exchanges on themes of common interest, including recent human rights developments in the EU and in ASEAN, the rights of migrants, the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons, interaction with civil society, corporate social responsibility as well as economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. Both sides saw the merits of encouraging dialogue and exchange of experience between civil society organizations from the two regions. They exchanged documents on their respective work. The ASEAN Delegation had an exchange of views with Members of the European Parliament and attended a seminar on “pan European human rights mechanisms” hosted by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of representatives from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The ASEAN Delegation also met the Brussels-based Human Rights and Democracy NGO network and engaged with European businesses on Corporate Social responsibility, in a round table hosted by The Shift and CSR Europe. Site visits of Belgian institutions dealing with migrants, persons with disabilities and equal opportunities completed the one-week programme.

Ending this week of dialogue and events, the two sides expressed satisfaction on their mutual engagement and agreed to explore further regular dialogues on human rights issues of mutual interest. Some of the potential areas for bilateral and multilateral cooperation identified include: corporate social responsibility and human rights, strengthening accessibility for persons with disabilities, child protection systems, gender mainstreaming, promoting economic rights of women, violence against women and children, rights of older persons and trafficking in persons. The two sides also looked forward to further exchanges on freedom of expression and how it deals with the advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred and the incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION: For CSOs applying for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR, please submit the application to

Posted on: 1 October, 2015

Those that have sent applications to AIPAASEANFoundationAHRB&, kindly resend them to Apologies for the inconvenience.

Press Release: AICHR Workshop on the Implementation of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Environment and Climate Change, 26 – 27 September 2015, Mandalay, Myanmar

Posted on: 30 September, 2015

The AICHR Workshop on the Implementation of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Environment and Climate Change in Mandalay, Myanmar was a follow up from the Workshop on Human Rights, Environment and Climate Change conducted in September 2014. The workshop was organized and led by the Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR, H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, with the support of the Regional EU – ASEAN Dialogue Instrument and additional assistance from ASEAN US Progress. At the last workshop the AICHR was expected to play a key role in further integration of Human Rights Based Approach towards environmental policy making and protection.

The purpose of this year’s Workshop was to develop a deeper understanding on the human rights obligations relating to the environment in the ASEAN context and explore how a regional response may be initiated with the involvement of relevant stakeholders.

The workshop was conducted over a period of two days discussing topics revolving around the current state with regards to human rights obligations vis-à-vis the environment and climate change, environmental impact assessment tools for ASEAN, legal frameworks, the protection of women, children and other vulnerable groups, and a possible framework for ASEAN.

The Workshop was attended by distinguished speakers, relevant ASEAN bodies/ working groups on Environment, national human rights institutions, academia/think tanks, judiciary, civil society organisations and others. The first session of the Workshop was opened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr John Knox. Mr Knox highlighted key aspects of human rights and the environment and the need to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic development. The session was also graced by Prof. Dr. Nay Htun, who was a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General for the UNDP.

The Workshop benefited from the exchange of views and experiences from expert speakers in the fields of human rights, the environment, and climate change from ASEAN and overseas, including Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn (former UN Special Rapporteur), Honorary Prof. Jaap Spier, Dr Matthew Baird, and Prof. Dinah Shelton.

Some of the topics that were highlighted included the gap between legalization and implementation/enforcement, the need to place a focus on the marginalized and vulnerable groups, and the necessity to have a fuller grasp of the expertise that ASEAN countries can share and contribute to a possible regional framework.