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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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ASEAN explores framework for an effective environment impact assessment to ensure sustainable development

Posted on: 1 November, 2017

AICHR Workshop on Rights-based Approach to Regional Management Strategy for an Effective Environmental Impact Assessment was held on 29 to 30 October in Yangon, Myanmar

The AICHR convened its third workshop on human rights, environment and climate change on 29-30 October 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar.

This year’s workshop’s discussions revolved around a rights-based approach to regional strategy management for an effective environmental impact assessment. In the opening session, Ambassador Hla Myint, the Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR remarked that “… there have been encouraging developments in this part of the world that reflect strengthened regional cooperation and collaboration in this regard. The Pacific countries and territories have been able to formulate the guidelines for strengthening EIA and similarly the six countries of Mekong Sub Region have been able to formulate regional guidelines for public participation in EIA. In view of these developments, the question is whether ASEAN does need such a regional framework for itself”.

The workshop brought together participants from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, including the ASEAN Senior Officials Meetings on Environment (ASOEN) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the representatives from ASEAN Member States ministries, civil society organisations and academics dealing with environmental related matters, as well as experts from various regional and international organisations. It saw not only the sharing of national and regional good practices and policies on EIA and the challenges in their implementation, but also the experience of transboundary EIA assessment as overseen by the Mekong River Commission, and good practice of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in Korea and by the Asian Development Bank for its projects.

As highlighted in the keynote speech video of Mr. John Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, environmental harms interferes with the full enjoyment of a very wide range of human rights, such as right to life, right to health and others, hence States have the obligation to have effective legal framework to address environmental issues and to take additional steps to protect those who are particularly vulnerable to environmental harm. The right to a safe, clean and sustainable development itself is enshrined under article 28(f) of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).  All ASEAN Member States already have either laws/policies and/or EIA processes in place, and to make it an effective tool to promote and safeguard environment and human rights it should ensure that public participation, the right to information and access to justice/remedies are encompassed throughout the processes.

This workshop is organised by AICHR Myanmar with the support of the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund. As with the two previous environment workshops organised in Myanmar, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, Dr Seree Nonthasoot, co-hosted and served as the rapporteur of the event.

PRESS RELEASE: Regional Consultation on the Thematic Study on Legal Aid, 11-12 October 2017, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 13 October, 2017

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) conducted a two-day Regional Consultation on the Thematic Study on Legal Aid on 11-12 October 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Regional Consultation brought national and regional researchers to share good practices and lessons-learned on legal aid within the ASEAN Member States’ jurisdiction to help refine the thematic study. This activity also allowed the researchers to gather inputs from the participants regarding the legal aid services for specific groups such as women, children, victims of trafficking and migrant workers. The implementation of legal aid for thematic areas, for example, cases related to natural resources as well as criminal cases, was also discussed.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Phil Matsheza, Head of Governance and Peacebuilding from UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, highlighted that legal aid is important to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 which seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Regionally, concerted efforts are, therefore, needed of the AICHR and other ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to promote legal aid in the ASEAN Member States as an integral part of the implementation of access to justice for the peoples of ASEAN.

This activity was attended by around 80 participants from the AICHR, the ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), 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), the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC), the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), Ministry of Justice the Kingdom of Thailand, relevant UN agencies, civil society organisations and the ASEAN Secretariat. The event was organised on behalf of the AICHR by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, and was supported by the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument Human Rights Facility (READI HRF).

Press Release: AICHR-ACWC Training Workshop on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 13-14 July 2017, Singapore

Posted on: 14 July, 2017

The AICHR-ACWC Training Workshop on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 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 13 to 14 July 2017 in Singapore.  It was supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Singapore and the Embassy of Switzerland in Singapore.

The UNCRC, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989, is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history, including by all ASEAN Member States.

The workshop brought together AICHR and ACWC Representatives, representatives from ASEAN Member States and civil society organisations working on implementation and reporting for the CRC to share experiences, learn from international and regional experts, and discuss current developments and emerging trends in children’s rights.

The workshop featured sessions with regional and international experts on the UNCRC.  Ms Wivina Belmonte, Deputy Regional Director of the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Ms Yasmeen Shariff, former Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Ms Laurence Andre from the Treaty Body Capacity Building Programme of the UN OHCHR Regional Office for Southeast Asia gave participants insight into the implementation, challenges, and monitoring and reporting processes for the UNCRC.

All ten ASEAN Member States also shared their respective experiences and challenges in implementing and reporting for the UNCRC.  Participants agreed on the importance of integrating children’s rights into the policy-making process, capacity-building, monitoring and data collection, strengthening inter-agency coordination at the national level and inclusive participation of stakeholders, including children.

This is the first joint collaborative project between the AICHR and ACWC to promote and protect the rights of children in the region, and is a demonstration of the growing positive synergy between the two bodies.

ASEAN Youth Video Competition “ASEAN Against Trafficking: Humans are not for Sale”

Posted on: 22 June, 2017

The AICHR in collaboration with the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to ASEAN is organising the ASEAN Youth Video Competition “ASEAN Against Trafficking: Humans are not for Sale”.

For further information on application, please see below: 

  Application Details – ASEAN Youth Video Competition “ASEAN Against Trafficking: Humans are not for Sale” (329.5 KiB, 1,381 hits)

Press Release: 3rd Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 19-21 June 2017, Phuket, Thailand

Posted on: 22 June, 2017

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.

PRESS RELEASE: AICHR JUDICIAL COLLOQUIUM ON THE SHARING OF GOOD PRACTICES REGARDING INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW, 13 – 15 MARCH 2017

Posted on: 17 March, 2017

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) organized the first-ever AICHR Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices regarding International Human Rights Law from 13 to 15 March 2017 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The Colloquium was jointly organized by the AICHR-Malaysia, AICHR-Lao PDR and AICHR-Thailand, with the support from the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development Security (ASEAN-U.S. Progress), Regional Europe-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument, Human Rights Facility (READI, HRF), Heinrich Boell Stiftung Southeast Asia, Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).

The Keynote Address was delivered by His Excellency (H.E.) Dato’ Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, on behalf of H.E. Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. H.E. Dato’ Ramlan highlighted that AICHR should actively devise methods and strategies to be the human rights standard-setting institution of ASEAN, and that it is necessary for the region to have a common baseline on how the rights in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) are to be defined and implemented, as this will accelerate ASEAN’s political, economic and social and cultural development.

The Right Honourable Tun Arifin bin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia delivered the Opening Statement. The Chief Justice of Malaysia shared the history of the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ), and observed that there are opportunities for judicial cooperation between the CACJ and AICHR in terms of sharing technical expertise and good practices on human rights matters which are of interest to both; in particular, on the rights of children, women and persons with disabilities.

H.E. Edmund Bon Tai Soon in his opening remarks highlighted that the AICHR’s Terms of Reference (TOR) provides sufficient mandate to establish institutional links with the ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to mainstream human rights across the three pillars of ASEAN Community namely the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community. H.E. Edmund Bon also suggested that there is a need to establish an inter-sectoral expert or working group on human rights and the Judiciary, or a regional resource centre to provide technical expertise and assistance to policymakers, judges and lawyers, or collaboration through the publishing guidance notes or comments on the interpretation and application of the AHRD, and making recommendations to enhance rights protection.

The Colloquium was attended by Representatives of AICHR, Senior Judges, representatives of Public Prosecution and Attorney General Offices, ASEAN Law Ministers Meeting (ALAWMM), ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC) and ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) from ASEAN Member States. Also in attendance were international judges, representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Southeast Asia National Human Rights Institution Forum (SEANF) and Civil Society Organisations with consultative status with AICHR.

The objectives of the Colloquium, amongst others, were to encourage greater peer-to-peer interaction, share good practices and challenges in the implementation of international human rights laws and to strengthen judicial co-operation between relevant stakeholders.

The Colloquium concluded with the adoption of Colloquium’s Conclusions and Recommendations for the consideration of the AICHR. Amongst the key recommendations were the need to conduct capacity building programmes for the judiciary and to provide technical support, obtain information, develop common approaches and sharing of good practices on human rights. The Colloquium also emphasized the need to compile a regional reference guide in respect of the AHRD and relevant international human rights instruments. Where appropriate, it was also suggested for the AICHR to further consult and collaborate with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, and other entities including the CACJ, ASEAN Law Association (ALA), members of CSOs as well as other international and national organizations.

AICHR Seminar on Promoting CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, 3-4 November 2016, Singapore

Posted on: 4 November, 2016

Singapore Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor with EU Ambassador to ASEAN Ambassador Francisco Fontan Pardo, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore Ambassador Håkan Jevrell, Regional Cluster Leader of the United Nations Development Programme Phil Matsheza, CEO of ASEAN CSR Network Thomas Thomas, Chair of ASEAN CSR Network Yanti Triwadiantini, and AICHR Representatives

Singapore Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor with EU Ambassador to ASEAN Ambassador Francisco Fontan Pardo, Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore Ambassador Håkan Jevrell, Regional Cluster Leader of the United Nations Development Programme Phil Matsheza, CEO of ASEAN CSR Network Thomas Thomas, Chair of ASEAN CSR Network Yanti Triwadiantini, and AICHR Representatives

The AICHR Seminar on Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights in ASEAN was successfully held from 3 to 4 November 2016 in Singapore.  The Seminar, a follow-up from the AICHR Baseline Study on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, was co-organised by AICHR-Singapore and the ASEAN CSR Network (ACN), and received the kind support of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) Human Rights Facility and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).   

In line with a multi-stakeholder approach to CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, the Seminar drew many participants from across ASEAN and outside the region from various sectors, including government officials, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), businesses, civil society, trade unions, and academia.
 
Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and Ministry of Health, Dr Amy Khor was the Guest-of-Honour for the Seminar.  Dr Khor spoke on “The Nexus between CSR and Human Rights”, and explained how economic growth and a clean environment could be pursued hand-in-hand to achieve sustainable development. 
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong kicks off the discussion on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong kicks off the discussion on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN

Former ASEAN Secretary-General and Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Ambassador Ong Keng Yong delivered a keynote address on The Way Forward for CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN.  The Seminar also saw the sharing of best practices and experiences from international and regional speakers including Swedish Ambassador for CSR Diana Madunic and member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Dante Pesce.
 
The Seminar explored the role of governments, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations (CSOs) in promoting CSR, as well as possible elements of a regional strategy on CSR and Human Rights in ASEAN, a recommendation of the Baseline Study.  Such a regional strategy would support the fulfilment of the aspirations of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which calls for the building upon and deepening of the integration process to realise a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN Community.