The 3rd AICHR Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community was held on 19-21 June 2017 in Phuket, Thailand. This Dialogue built on the previous two regional dialogues the AICHR convened in 2015 and 2016. The 2017 Dialogue focused on the issues pertaining to access to justice, persons with disabilities as entrepreneurs and disability perspective in disaster risk management. The event gathered participation of the AICHR and various relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, including ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC); National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), and experts from regional and international organisations.
The Dialogue participants actively contributed in sharing their experiences and challenges relevant to the three focus areas. They provided their views to the proposed regional action plan, which is currently being drafted by the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community. In the context of access to justice, it was highlighted that there is a need to empower persons with disabilities to ensure that they are aware of their rights.
Mr. Monthian Bunthan, a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities highlighted the importance of having accessibility impact assessment for businesses in ASEAN to ensure inclusivity of persons with disabilities. The participants highlighted that the rights of persons of disabilities to work, employment and to start a business is guaranteed under article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the latest international human rights instrument to be ratified by all ASEAN Member States. However, social stigma surrounding persons with disabilities adds barriers to the realisation of their right. Moreover, the lack of access to infrastructure, information and transportation hinders persons with disabilities from becoming contributing members of the economy through entrepreneurship.
It was highlighted that the lack of data on persons with disabilities hinders the first responder to assist them. Therefore, it was emphasised that knowledge on disaster preparedness should be adequately shared to persons with disabilities including to children with disabilities.
Participation of persons with disabilities in policy-making processes was highlighted as the key point in ensuring the mainstreaming and full implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities.
The 3rd Regional Dialogue was organised by the Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR in collaboration with various agencies in Thailand, including the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, the Administrative Court, the Social Security Office, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), as well as the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) and the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD). The event was supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and Australian Aid.