ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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AICHR holds ASEAN Dialogue on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Related Instruments 25-26 October 2018, Manila

Posted on: 30 October, 2018


(Foreground from L to R): Ambassador Andrea Reichlin (Embassy of Switzerland in Manila), Prof. Dato’ Noor Aziah Mohd. Awal (Malaysia’s ACWC Representative on Children’s Rights); Dr. Shashi Jayakumar (alternate representative of AICHR-Singapore); and Philippine Representative to AICHR Leo M. Herrera-Lim

(Friday, October 26 2018) – ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)-Philippines and AICHR-Singapore, in collaboration with Child Rights Coalition Asia and with the support of the Switzerland Embassy in Manila, held the ASEAN Dialogue on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Its Related Instruments in Manila on 25-26 October 2018.

The Dialogue sought to raise awareness and increase understanding on the implementation of  the rights of the child by focusing on the three (3) CRC Optional Protocols of the UNCRC, namely the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (OPSC), and the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure (OPIC).  Unlike the UNCRC, ASEAN member states are party to the UNCRC but have not ratified all of the Optional Protocols.  The discussions dealt with the possibilities and challenges of ratifying the Protocols.

The Dialogue also highlighted one of the twenty-three (23) UN CRC General Comments, specifically General Comment Number 20, which focuses on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence.

The Dialogue is a follow up to the AICHR and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Training Workshop on the UNCRC held in Singapore in July of 2017.

Participants to the Dialogue included AICHR Representatives, ACWC Representatives on Children’s Rights, the ASEAN Secretariat, Philippine foreign affairs officials, Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) officials.

Experts and practitioners gave presentations on the three (3) Optional Protocols and the UNCRC General Comment Number 20 during the 2-day Dialogue.  The presentors included Atty. Wanchai Roujanavong, Vice Chair and Thailand’s Representative on Children’s Rights to the ACWC; Atty. Yasmeen Muhammad Shariff, Former Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Mr. Ahmad Taufan Damanik, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM); Atty. Dorine van Der Keur, Legal Consultant, ECPAT International; and Atty. Mikiko Otani, Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

(From L to R): Dr. Shashi Jayakumar (AICHR-Singapore); Ambassador Andrea Reichlin (Swiss Embassy); Amihan Abueva (CRC Asia); Mr. Koh Choon Hui (Singapore’s ACWC Representative on Children’s Rights); and Philippine Representative to AICHR, Leo M. Herrera-Lim

Participants at the close of the ASEAN Dialogue on the UNCRC and its Related Instruments

The ASEAN Dialogue on the UNCRC and its Related Instruments is in line with AICHR’s mandates to enhance public awareness of human rights; promote capacity building for the effective implementation of international human rights treaty obligations undertaken by ASEAN Member States; and encourage ASEAN Member States to consider acceding to and ratifying international human rights instruments.  END

Press Release: AICHR CSO Symposium, 13 – 15 October 2018, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Posted on: 18 October, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR CSO Symposium on 13-15 October 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Participated in the Symposium were the AICHR Representatives/Alternates, representatives of ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), representatives from 20 CSOs with Consultative Relationship with the AICHR (accredited CSOs), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), and the UN agencies (UNDP and UNESCAP).

In his opening remarks, H.E. Ambassador Barry Desker, Representative of Singapore and Chair of the AICHR, highlighted that since the adoption of the Guidelines on the AICHR Relations with CSOs in 2015, the AICHR has been actively engaging the accredited CSOs through its activities and programmes which address various human rights issues pertinent to ASEAN. Currently there are 30 CSOs accredited to the AICHR.

With the aim to foster understanding of the current development of human rights in ASEAN and to forge meaningful engagement between the AICHR and accredited CSOs, the Symposium provided a platform for interactive discussion on different human rights issues in ASEAN such as women and children’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, trafficking in persons, as well as business and human rights. The Symposium also marked the second time the AICHR hold a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) with the accredited CSOs. The RTD focused on the way forward to enhance consultation, coordination and cooperation between the AICHR and accredited CSOs in the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN. Few recommendations were enumerated and discussed in a frank and open manner, including to institutionalise the RTD.

As part of the Symposium, the participants went for site visits, including to Ban Pha Mee whereby members of the Akha tribe initiated a community-based tourism focusing on coffee produce and weaving. This form of tourism helps to showcase the local community culture while still preserving their values and lifestyle. In addition, the participants also visited the Mae Fah Luang University ranking the 9th among universities in Thailand which this year celebrated its 20th Anniversary and espousing Sustainable Development Goals into its operations.

Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, organised the Symposium on behalf of the AICHR with support from the Government of Norway.

Press Release: 8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 14-15 September 2018, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 17 September, 2018

8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community

The Task Force convened the 8th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community on 14 to 15 September 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Meeting finalised the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that encompasses all ASEAN Community Pillars and encourages ASEAN Bodies to take action in integrating and including disability perspectives to their work. Reaffirming persons with disabilities as agents of change themselves, the Enabling Masterplan has benefitted from consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities and would continue engagement with civil society organisations in its implementation.

The ASEAN Enabling Masterplan is aimed to be adopted by the ASEAN Leaders in November 2018.

The Task Force finalised the draft ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Thailand Representative to the AICHR and Mr. Richard Tan, Singapore Focal Point to SOMSWD and supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and the Australian Government. The Meeting extended appreciation to the Government of Thailand for its hospitality and arrangement of the meeting.

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018, 8-10 September 2018, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Posted on: 15 September, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018 on 8-10 September 2018, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The three-day event fulfilled its objectives in raising awareness of the young people of ASEAN about the AICHR and human rights. It also aimed at fostering public speaking, critical thinking, and leadership skills, as well as promoting solidarity, empathy and camaraderie among the young people of ASEAN. The Youth Debate, which is part of the AICHR Priority Programmes/Activities 2018, was organised by the AICHR-Cambodia, in collaboration with the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and the Royal University of Phnom Penh, with financial support from the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund (ACCF).

The Youth Debate was participated by 30 undergraduate students from the ASEAN Member States. It also witnessed the keenness of ASEAN organs, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, Entities Associated with ASEAN, United Nations’ Agencies, prominent human rights experts as well as other pertinent stakeholders to take part in furnishing the knowledge of the bright debaters on the intersection of education with human rights; relevant international commitments and instruments on right to education, ways and means to overcome digital disruption, as well as various innovations in education.

Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR

The motions debated revolved around human rights education; children of migrant workers and their right to education; privacy of celebrities; air pollution; and the gravity of rape as to whether it amounts to a capital crime. Throughout the debate motions, the young debaters have shown their research and understanding on these wider issues of human rights, as well as on right to education and its complementarity and inter-sectionality with political stability, economic prosperity, inclusivity and human rights guarantee in ASEAN.

At the closing session, H.E. Keo Remy, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and the President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) shared about the recent developments of human rights situation in Cambodia; Cambodia’s achievements in relation to the promotion and protection of the right to education for youth; and current status related to policies and legal frameworks of youth and the right to education at international and regional level

Meanwhile, H.E. Polyne Hean, the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR and Vice President of the CHRC, highlighted that the event also provided an opportunity for the participants of the Youth Debate to visit the Tuol Sleng Museum which documented the darkest human history took place in Cambodia, where the heinous crime, the genocide, was committed by the Khmer Rouge. While firmly pronouncing the “Never Again” statement, she expressed her expectation that the visit would continue to remind the future generations that such grave breaches of international law has no place in a dignified society.

Winners of the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018

Successfully served as a platform for the young people of ASEAN to express their views on human rights and interact with academics and experts on human rights issues within ASEAN, the Youth Debate was concluded with award giving to five best speakers, namely Mr. Maneth Nay from Cambodia, Mr. Muhammad Aditya Padmanaba from Indonesia, Mr. Muqriz bin Mustafffa Kamal from Malaysia, Ms. Colleen Anne Chua and Mr. Neal Amandus de la Rosa Gellaco from the Philippines.


AICHR Capacity Building Workshop on Article 14 of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, 14-15 August 2018, Semarang, Indonesia

Posted on: 28 August, 2018

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) commits to promote prevention and fight against torture and any kind of actions that degrade human dignity or violate human rights that is expressed in Article 14 of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The Article states that “no person shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. This article undoubtedly provides a strong basis for AICHR to organize a capacity building workshop as part of its contribution on education and promotion of human rights principles to officials from ASEAN Member States. AICHR is the human rights body of ASEAN established in 2009. It comprises of 10 Representatives of ASEAN Member States with the mandate to mainstream human rights principles and practices in the three pillars of ASEAN Community.

This two-day workshop in Semarang, Indonesia, 14-15 August 2018, is the first AICHR priority program with such theme. In this training, law enforcement authorities and correction facilities from ASEAN Member States agree on the following:

  • Prevention of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, from the process of identifying suspect, capture, investigation and detention must be avoided at any cause.
  • Definition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in ASEAN is not yet uniform but UNCAT (United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) can be used as a guidance.
  • Local contexts and culture need to be considered to combat torture.
  • Comprehensive approach including the viewpoints of victims/detainee and law enforcement officials must be considered.
  • Training for law enforcement and public education needed to done by ASEAN to combat torture.

In the meeting there were positive responses from the participants after listening to the experiences of ASEAN member states when adjusting their legislation and law enforcement standard operating procedures. The participants were inspired with alternative techniques such as investigative interview, regulation in correction facility when detainee violates rules, monitoring system of performance of prison guards, and others.  The participants visited women correction facility in Semarang to witness the various technique of anti-torture being done in facility where the building is an old one built in 1894 thus cannot be renovated to accommodate various needs, overcapacity with various kinds of criminals. The response of participants were positive. They said they learned about how to measure the decency of correction facility, the management of correction facility officer, and the trainings inside the correction facility.

“The homework for ASEAN to prevent and combat torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment is just revealed because of this meeting. This is the first ASEAN level meeting where human rights during capture, investigation and detention is discussed in depth. The complexity of problem becomes really apparent namely because most law enforcement officials are never taught about doing interviews and collecting information for court during investigation; no standard for treating detainees given diversity of conditions in the correction facilities and their line of commands. The meeting reveals the things needing follow-up by AICHR so that ASEAN can be free of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment,” said Dr. Dinna Wisnu, Indonesian Representative to AICHR, the organizer of this program.

The AICHR is also highlighting the aspect of protecting vulnerable groups whenever they are in conflict with laws, such as women, children, minority groups. The output of this program will include the pointers of ASEAN common understanding of Article 14 of the AHRD and practical recommendations for follow-up by AICHR including further capacity building efforts and education.

This workshop is possible due to the cooperation of AICHR with the Embassy of Switzerland in Indonesia, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, The OHCHR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. The speakers are practitioners from government and non-governmental agencies such as the Balay Rehabilitation Philippines, Human Rights Resource Center Indonesia, Sub-Committee on Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Thailand, Ministry of Law and Human Rights Indonesia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Indonesia, Indonesian Police’s Special Crime Unit (Bareskrim) POLRI, Norwegian Police, dan the Association for Prevention of Torture. (*)

For more information, contact:

Anisa Djafar, media-affairs assistant to Indonesian Representative to AICHR ( or +6281299362063)

Assoc. Prof. Dinna Wisnu, Indonesian Representative to AICHR (


Posted on: 28 August, 2018

ASEAN Forum on Women's Economic Empowerment

The ASEAN Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment jointly organised by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) was held from 27 to 28 August 2018 in Singapore.  It was supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.  This is the second joint collaborative project between the AICHR and ACWC, and the first project that promotes and protect the rights of women through economic empowerment.

The Forum comprised five sessions, namely, Empowering Female Employees at the Workplace; Breaking Barriers and Re-inventing Traditional Businesses; Creating New Businesses in Emerging Industries; Shaping Corporate Culture for Women Leadership Development; and Empowering Women in the Silver Economy.  The Forum brought together representatives from the AICHR, ACWC, Senior Economic Officials and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network, as well as private sector and civil society representatives from ASEAN Member States, to share their experiences and exchange good practices that contribute to the greater economic participation and empowerment of women through all stages of life.

Students participants at the ASEAN Forum on Women's Economic Empowerment

In her Opening Remarks for the Forum, President of the Republic of Singapore Madam Halimah Yacob noted that in order to tap into ASEAN’s full economic potential, ASEAN needed to do more to harness the potential of all, including women who make up half of the region’s population.  President also said that in order for women to progress and contribute at work and in society, there is a need to have a shift in mindset on how women in various stages of life are treated in employment, as well as perceptions of caregiving responsibilities at home.

Speakers and participants spoke about the importance for the public, people, and private sectors to take a “life-cycle approach” in policy planning, and work together to create an inclusive ecosystem that will enable and empower women to join the work force, excel at work, and take up leadership positions.  They also agreed on the need to encourage women to tap on new technologies and embrace lifelong learning, so that they are equipped and ready to ride on new trends in the marketplace including the fourth industrial revolution.

In view of the rapidly ageing population in the region, and the vulnerability of older women in society, speakers and participants also touched on the importance of equipping and empowering older women with the right tools that will enable them to gain access or return to the marketplace, so that they can be self-reliant, remain active, and are able to live meaningfully in their sunset years.

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AICHR Thematic Study: Women in Natural Disasters: Indicative Findings in Unraveling Gender in Institutional Responses

Posted on: 9 July, 2018

As the ASEAN moves toward efforts at responding to natural disaters as a region, it has yet to fully integrate the gender approach in its regional disaster response. Already in the community-building phase of its institutional evolution, certain issues still remain in the norm-construction stage. In the case of women’s human rights in particularly difficult circumstances (e.g. natural disasters situations), there is very faint discursive recognition in institutional agreements. In the case of individual ASEAN Member States (AMS), there are more evident efforts as regards mainstreaming gender in natural disaster institutional infrastructure and mechanisms – although with some countries fairly more advanced than others.

This study was undertaken in order to compile policies and practices on women’s protection in situations of natural disasters and to document best practices in gender mainstreaming in natural disaster response and assistance, particularly, those that provide spaces for women’s participation. It was guided by an institutionalist perpective that sought to locate gender in laws, policies/plans, institutions, and practices.

Based on the indicative results of the study, the summary observations are the following:

    • The natural disaster context of countries in Southeast Asia varies, with some more prone to large-scale disasters than others.
    • Framing institutional and governance responses to natural disasters depends on its impact on societal systems. All AMS have existing natural disaster institutional infrastructures and mechanisms. Their respective natural disaster management governance follows both vertical (i.e. national to local) and horizontal (i.e. inter-agency) directions and most entities at the national level are mirrored in the local level.
    • Supporting the institutional infrastructure are different mechanisms in the form of national laws, policy directives, and/or actions plans. The natural disaster discourse is usually integrated into the meta-framework of sustainable development, climate change adaptation, or national security.
    • Integrating the gender approach into these meta-frames depends on: (a) the maturity of gender mainstreaming in the whole governance architecture; (b) the extent to which gender is recognized as an issue; and (c) the discursive construction of women in these societies.
    • There are also varying appreciations for and on women’s participation in the different aspects of natural disasters from the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Nonetheless, integrating the gender approach in the institutional infrastructure of natural disasters can be a substantive entry point to operationalize women’s protection and empowerment, primarily because of the care roles they play in their families and communities.
    • However, women’s specific concerns – such as sexual and gender-based violence, violence against women and girls, women’s economic and political empowerment – are difficult to surface, discuss, and make a matter of concern in natural disaster and emergency/crisis institutional infrastructure and mechanisms.
    • In terms of identifying the efforts of each AMS on mainstreaming gender in their natural disaster institutional architecture and instruments, the deduced categories are: (a) incipient efforts (i.e. initial recognition but not yet institutionalized at the strategic level); modest efforts (i.e. early stages of inclusion at the strategic level and/or efforts done more in practice by government or non-government organizations); moderate efforts (i.e. gender-mainstreaming evident at the strategic level); and strong efforts (i.e. gender-mainstreaming evident at both strategic and operational levels).
    • From the perspective of community women and non-government actors from different countries, the need to mainstream gender should be reflected not just in the strategic and operational levels but more so in implementation on the ground.
    • And lastly, particular patterns at the ground level should also be recognized and considered in the design of natural disaster and emergency/crisis institutional governance. These are women’s contribution to early warning and prevention, the intersection of gender and culture in disaster relief and response, gender dimensions of migration, and women’s access to resources in post-disaster situations, to name a few.


The full report is available for download:

  AICHR Thematic Study on Women in Natural Disasters (9.3 MiB, 1,131 hits)