AICHR

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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Joint Press Release: EU-ASEAN POLICY DIALOGUE ON HUMAN RIGHTS: AICHR, ACWC, ACW, ACMW, ASEC VISIT TO BRUSSELS, 19 – 23 October 2015

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.

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.

Press Release: AICHR Youth Debates on Human Rights, 5 – 6 September 2015, Singapore

Posted on: 9 September, 2015

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the second ASEAN Youth Debates on Human Rights from 5 to 6 September 2015 in Singapore. The debates were held at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore. The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.

30 university students from the ten ASEAN countries participated in the debates. Over 100 students and interested parties from the local universities, polytechnics and junior colleges were also in attendance. The debates aimed to promote greater awareness of human rights among ASEAN youth, and facilitate an active exchange of ideas and perspectives on various human rights issues.

The programme was divided into two segments. On the first day, students participated in a debate master class where they honed their presentation skills before the debates on the second day. This was followed by a site visit to the Toa Payoh Housing Estate and a guided tour of Singapore’s newly-opened Community Rehabilitation Centre.

The debates were conducted on the second day. Ambassador-at-Large Professor Chan Heng Chee, Representative of Singapore to AICHR, opened the session by emphasising the importance of ASEAN youth in shaping the future of the region. This was followed by a panel discussion on “Youth and Human Rights in ASEAN” with four of the eight AICHR Representatives in attendance. Five debate sessions were held and the student participants debated on topics revolving around good governance, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), the role of youth vis-à-vis human rights, and the death penalty. There were also spirited exchanges of views and ideas amongst debaters and the audience.

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, and Associate Professor Eleanor Wong attended the event as guest judges. The award ceremony was also graced by the event’s guest of honour, Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, who presented the awards to the student participants.

Press Release: Training Of Trainers For Journalists In ASEAN Member States, 25 – 29 July 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 31 July, 2015

For the first time since its inception, the AICHR has targeted its human rights training to another key stakeholder in ASEAN Community building efforts namely journalists. Journalists play an essential part towards building of the ASEAN Community building and in fact play a key role in ensuring human rights are not only promoted but protected. Today the AICHR has successfully concluded its third Training of Trainers on human rights for journalists.

Around thirty five journalists from all ten ASEAN Member States attended the five-days training programme in Eastin Grand Hotel, Bangkok which was organized by the Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (the AICHR) and supported by the ASEAN – US Progress.

The AICHR crafted this TOT specifically for journalists to equip them with better understanding on human rights as well as to create a regional platform for ASEAN journalists to share experiences and best practices on the promotion and protection of human rights through their work.

 In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR mentioned the significance of this year for ASEAN in general, with the launching of the ASEAN Community by the end of the year, as well as the formulation of ASEAN Vision 2025 and the new Community blueprints of each pillar of ASEAN, and for the AICHR in particular, with the leaving of majority of its Representatives.

The Training covered core areas of human rights such as rights of women, children, persons of disabilities, and the nexus between the environment, climate change and human rights.

The participants were also reminded that as journalists not only they play a vital role in the promotion and protection of human rights, they are also right bearers, and their rights to freedom of expressions are firmly established under the international law. By taking human rights perspective in their reporting work, journalists contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights, and thus are entitled to rights and protection accorded to human rights defenders.

On the last day of training the participants visited the Central Women Correctional Institution, the Thai PBS, and the Royal Thai Police Education Bureau. During the visit to the Central Women Correctional Institution, the participants were taken to a tour across the facility, where they could see firsthand the efforts of the Thai government to ensure the implementation of the Bangkok Rules which accord minimum treatment to female prisoners. The Bangkok Rules were the initiative of Thailand Princess, HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha and the Thai Government. It was unanimously adopted by 193 countries during the 65th General Assembly session in December 2010 (UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/65/229). The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (known as the ‘Bangkok Rules’), protects the rights of female prisoners and offenders, explicitly addressing the different needs that women have and the different situations they come from, and it was the first instrument to address the needs of children in prison with their parents.

The participants encouraged the AICHR to conduct similar trainings and further advance trainings. ASEAN journalists would benefit from being informed with the knowledge of human rights, and of the vital role they play in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.

Press Release: Special Meeting of the AICHR, 13 – 15 June 2015, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Posted on: 15 June, 2015

The ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened its Special Meeting, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam from 13 to 15 June 2015. The Meeting was chaired by Tan Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR and the Chair of the AICHR.

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Press Release: The AICHR Dialogue with ASEAN Community Councils on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Pnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, 25 – 26 May 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia

Posted on: 1 June, 2015

Led by Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Mr. Rafendi Djamin, the AICHR hosted the first ever Dialogue between the AICHR and the ASEAN Community Councils on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD. The Dialogue was held on 25 – 26 May 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Indonesia, which was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.

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Press Release : Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR)

Posted on: 24 March, 2015

AICHR’s Representatives at the Special Meeting of the AICHR on 21 – 24 March 2015, in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened its Special Meeting, in Kuala Lumpur from 21 to 24 March 2015. The Meeting was chaired by H.E Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the Chairperson and the Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR. The Meeting discussed a number of agenda items including priorities for the AICHR in 2016.

In the four-day Meeting, the AICHR discussed the Five Year Work Plan 2016 – 2020 in accordance with the principles, mandate, and function contained in the TOR of the AICHR. In the formulation of the Work Plan, AICHR applies a forward looking approach, taking into account the fact that the ASEAN Community will be established by the end of 2015 and will embark on a higher integration process thereafter.

The AICHR also discussed and provided their inputs to the Draft ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision and the ASEAN Political Security Community – Attendant Document, bearing in mind the spirit and commitment of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, and Terms of Reference of the AICHR.

Finally, the Meeting expressed their appreciation to the Representative of Malaysia and the Government of Malaysia for their hospitality and excellent arrangements for the meeting. The AICHR will meet again for the 18th Meeting of the AICHR from 6 to 9 May 2015 in Jakarta.