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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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Press Release – 6th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community 16-17 April 2018, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Posted on: 18 April, 2018

The Task Force with DSG of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Community

The Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, comprising representatives from the AICHR, SOMSWD and ACWC, convened its 6th meeting on 16 to 17 April 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Meeting continued its deliberation on the draft ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which identifies key action points based on the recognition and importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the political, legal, economic, social and cultural environments and the full realisation of their rights in all areas of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints.

Consultation with DSG of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community

The Meeting had consultations with the Deputy Secretary-Generals of ASEAN for ASEAN Political-Security Community and ASEAN Economic Community. DSG of AEC highlighted disability as a development issue and stressed on identification of barriers as well as the right economic conditions to enhancing economic contribution of persons with disabilities. While DSG of APSC emphasised on the importance of consultations with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to ensure effective implementation of the Masterplan. The Task Force will consult with Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community at the 7th Meeting of the Task Force, with the recognition that representatives from SOMSWD and ACWC have been attending the meetings.

Representatives of SOMSWD at the Task Force meeting

The Task Force also met with representatives from the ASEAN Disability Forum. The Meeting discussed the current situation of persons with disabilities in ASEAN and noted the lack of disaggregated data in ASEAN as one of the challenges in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR and Mr. Richard Tan, SOMSWD Focal Point of Singapore with the support of the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled in May 2018.

Press Release – AICHR High Level Dialogue on Managing Freedom of Expression in the Information Age Medan, Indonesia, 11 – 12 April 2018

Posted on: 18 April, 2018

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Right (AICHR) commits to support ASEAN governments in proactively building cooperation among ASEAN member states to strengthen the common commitment to protect Freedom of Expression especially empowering civil society through multi-stakeholder engagement to achieve quality freedom.

Initiated by AICHR, this High-Level Dialogue held in Medan,11-12 April 2018, attended by decision makers, formulators and opinion makers as well as experts from 10 ASEAN member states reveals that Freedom of Expression has been challenged in current information era. Disinformation (including hoax) that quickly spreads through social media, barrier in freedom of religion and protection of vulnerable groups such as minority, certain ethnic groups, woman and children, person with disabilities get the attention. Hates speech and hoax issued by irresponsible groups harms freedom of expression, tough to prevent and stop, even some government were late in responding do to various reasons. This problem should be solved cross-sectorally, by enforcing rules and educating the public to avoid believing in the wrong information and hatred.

Dr. Dinna Wisnu, the Indonesia Representative to AICHR says “Regulations to guarantee freedom of expression grows in several ASEAN member states but the legalistic approach intended to punish acts have limitation when they are not empowering civil society nor promoting protection of citizen and consumer. For Indonesian context, the tendency for vulnerable freedom of expression happens during the election period. It means, all stake-holders need to anticipate in order to avoid eroding Freedom of the Expression”.

Edmund Bon Tai Soon, AICHR Representative from Malaysia says “Human Right-based approach should be more nuanced, giving maximum space to freedom of expression while maintaining social order as stipulated in The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

This Dialogue is initiated by AICHR Indonesia, Dr.Dinna Wisnu in collaboration with AICHR Malaysia, Edmund Bon Tai Soon. The participants and speakers include, SOMRI (Senior Official Meeting on Responsible Information), SOMY (Senior Official Meeting on Youth), on Women and children, ACWC (ASEAN Commission for Protection and Promotion the rights of Women and Children), UNESCO, OHCHR (UN Office of High Commission on Human Rights), SEANF (ASEAN Human Rights Forum), ASEAN experts and civil society.

PRESS RELEASE: 4TH Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 15-16 December 2017, Da Nang, Viet Nam

Posted on: 16 December, 2017

4th Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community

The joint initiative by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare Development (SOMSWD) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) towards the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities continued with the convening of the 4th Meeting of the Task Force from 15 to 16 December 2017, back to back with the AICHR Workshop on the Enhanced Access to Education for Children with Disabilities held at the same venue from 13 to 14 December 2017.

With the mandate to develop a regional action plan to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in the ASEAN Community, the Task Force emphasised on goals-setting, aspiration and shared efforts by all pillars of ASEAN towards an inclusive community by 2025. Correspondingly, the regional action plan aimed to reinforce the on-going efforts by ASEAN under the framework of Bali Declaration on the Enhancement of the Role and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community and the Mobilisation Framework of the ASEAN Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2011-2020).

At the Meeting, the Task Force had an interface with an expert from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) to exchange views on the zero draft of the regional action plan.

After deliberation, the Task Force adopted a structure for the draft regional action plan entitled “ASEAN Enabling Masterplan for an Inclusive Community by 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” to be in line with the ASEAN Vision 2025. The document will put forward goals on disability rights for each Community pillar of ASEAN and will also make reference to ASEAN documents such as the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the Bali Declaration as well as international instruments such as the 2030 Agenda, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Incheon Strategy: Making the Rights Real. The ASEAN Enabling Masterplan is aimed to be finalised and submitted for adoption within 2018.

The Meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR and Undersecretary Florita Villar, SOMSWD Focal Point of the Philippines and Vice-Chair of SOMSWD, with the support of the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled in January 2018.

AICHR Regional Workshop on Enhanced Access to Education for Children with Disabilities, 13-14 December 2017, Da Nang, Viet Nam

Posted on: 16 December, 2017

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), in collaboration with UNICEF, convened the AICHR Regional Workshop on Enhanced Access to Education for Children with Disabilities on the 13-14th December 2017 in Da Nang, Viet Nam. The workshop brought together participants and resource persons from relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies (such as AICHR, SOMED, ACWC, SOMSWD, and SOMHD), government officials from ASEAN Member States, representatives from international organizations, non-governmental organizations, disabled people organizations, academics, and parents and children with disabilities.

The Workshop is the first ASEAN cross-sectoral initiative focusing on the right to education for children with disabilities. Speaking at the Opening session, H.E. Ambassador Nguyen Thi Nha, the Representative of Viet Nam to AICHR, emphasized the importance of providing learning opportunities for one of the most vulnerable yet occasionally excluded group of children in realizing a people-centered, people-oriented, and inclusive ASEAN Community. H.E. Nguyen Thi Nghia, Vice Minister of Ministry of Education and Training confirmed the commitment of Viet Nam Government to enhancing access to education for children with disabilities and called for further cooperation from other ASEAN Member States in that area. Ms. Yoshimi Nishino, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Viet Nam highlighted the significance of inclusive education as the goal of educating children with disabilities and UNICEF’s commitment to work with the government to ensure that “no one is left behind”.

During the two-day Workshop, participants reviewed current situation and education needs for children with disabilities in the region and discussed how to promote regional cooperation to move forward the agenda. They also exchanged legislations and practices on specialized and inclusive education models in each ASEAN Member States and had an opportunity to visit an inclusive education resource center in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

 It was noted that children with disabilities can put their potential to use when given opportunities to engage and participate in schools and communities and that various efforts have been made to promote the right of education for children with disabilities. However, the issue has not been fully addressed and still requires a crosscutting approach and a concerted effort by not only ASEAN sectoral bodies and government officials but also relevant regional and international stakeholders, and every individual of the society. They are, therefore, encouraged to actively participate in the policy consultation and implementation process. Many also reiterated international conventions and regional agreements such as the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as basis for further cooperation on the issue.

The Workshop was organized by AICHR Viet Nam, the Viet Nam ASEAN National Secretariat – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of UNICEF Viet Nam, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the People’s Committee of Da Nang City.

Press Release: 2nd ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights 29 November 2017, Bohol, the Philippines

Posted on: 30 November, 2017

On the 29th of November 2017, the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the 2nd ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights, in Bohol in the Philippines. The meeting was hosted by AICHR and followed the 1st EU-ASEAN dialogue held in October 2015 in Brussels.

The dialogue was co-chaired on the ASEAN side by H.E. Leo Herrera-Lim, Chair of AICHR, and on the EU side by Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

Also participating in the dialogue were the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) and the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC).

The second Policy Dialogue on Human Rights was held in an open and constructive atmosphere. The two sides expressed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties as well as the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and other human rights related regional instruments, and exchanged views about recent developments in human rights in ASEAN and in the EU.

Topics addressed during the Policy Dialogue included trafficking in persons, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, rights of the child, rights of migrant workers, business and human rights / corporate social responsibility, as well as rights of persons with disabilities.

The EU and ASEAN agreed to continue their cooperation and identified specific areas where the EU and ASEAN would work more closely together, including trafficking in persons, business and human rights as well as women’s and children’s rights, and the rights of migrant workers. They agreed to explore holding their next dialogue in 2018.

AICHR Reviews ASEAN’s Implementation of the AHRD with Partners, SOMs and CSOs

Posted on: 30 November, 2017

The great strides ASEAN has made in the field of human rights towards ensuring a more equal, just and peaceful ASEAN Community was celebrated on 28 November 2017. As part of its commemorative activities for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012 (AHRD), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened a Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) on 28 November 2017 in Bohol, the Philippines. The RTD was a  platform to discuss the AHRD with representatives of ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Consultative Relationship with the AICHR.

The AHRD is the foundation of the AICHR’s work in the region. The AHRD affirms all the civil and political rights, and all the economic, social and cultural rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and includes newly-recognised collective rights to a sustainable environment, to development, and to peace. It provides a framework for human rights co-operation and consultation between ASEAN Member States in advancing ASEAN’s aspiration to be a rules-based, people-oriented and people-centred Community. It was adopted through the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD on 18 November 2012 where the ASEAN Leaders affirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the AHRD to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.

The RTD highlighted the importance of the AHRD, and allowed the delegates to take stock of the current ASEAN rights landscape; gaps and challenges faced by the region; and opportunities to enhance the AICHR’s efforts in mainstreaming human rights values to all three ASEAN Pillars.

The first session gathered the participation of ASEAN officials working on the issues of labour; migrant workers; women and children; health development; education; and information and media. The session noted attending bodies’ commitment to support each other’s upcoming activities and develop new formats of collaboration to enhance the implementation of ASEAN’s commitment on human rights.

Pursuant to the AICHR’s on-going efforts to broaden and deepen partnerships with CSOs, the AICHR has now accredited 22 CSOs, and more applications are pending. The second session of the RTD saw a robust and constructive dialogue between the AICHR and CSOs in Consultative Relationship with the AICHR. Delegates highlighted the complementarity between the AHRD and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and explored means for more effective engagement with the AICHR using the AHRD as the region’s reference point.

The RTD was jointly organised by AICHR Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia with the support of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument Human Rights Facility (READI-HRF).

ASEAN conduct training on the linkages between business activities and human rights

Posted on: 21 November, 2017

BANGKOK, 21 November 2017- The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR Training Programme on Business and Human Rights on 13-16 November in Bangkok, Thailand. The discussions revolved around the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights in ASEAN. The training brought together around 100 participants and resource persons from the AICHR, representatives of relevant ministries and chambers of commerce from the ASEAN Member States, Dr. Surya Deva (Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights), representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), civil society organisations, business enterprises and academics

In the opening session, H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, underscored that this activity is part of the AICHR’s continuous effort to conduct trainings on relevant human rights issues in ASEAN. This year’s training intended to provide an overview on the UNGP which affirmed role of business enterprises in the fulfilment of human rights. Dr. Nonthasoot highlighted that “realising the UNGP on business and human rights could help ASEAN to become a people centered people oriented Community.”

During the four-days training, the participants discussed the development and implementation of the UNGP, which are grounded in the recognition of States’ existing human rights obligations, obligation of business enterprises to comply with applicable laws and to respect human rights, as well as the need for appropriate and effective remedies. It was noted that business enterprises have a key part in addressing human rights violations resulting from business activities. They are, therefore, encouraged to instill human rights in its mission and vision to prevent harm to the society and the environment.

Resource persons from the ASEAN Member States shared their experiences in developing National Action Plans (NAPs) in their respective countries. One of the points highlighted by the participants was the need for ASEAN to develop a regional framework on business and human rights to further forged the agenda on business and human rights in the region. On the third day, the participants went for field trips to the Judicial Training Institute of Thailand (JTI) and Stock Exchange of Thailand where they discussed how the principles of the UNGP are being implemented in Thailand.

This activity was organised by AICHR Thailand with support from partners, including the Department of Rights and Liberty Protection of the Ministry of Justice Thailand, the UNDP, and the ASEAN CSR Network, with the support of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument Human Rights Facility (READI HRF). The Minister of Justice of Thailand, H.E. Mr. Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, kindly came to open the programme.