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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

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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.

Press Release: 23rd Meeting of the AICHR, 13-15 February 2017, Boracay, the Philippines

Posted on: 15 February, 2017

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened its first meeting under the Chairmanship of the Philippines on 13 to 15 February 2017 in Boracay, the Philippines. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Leo Herrera-Lim, the Representative of the Philippines to the AICHR.

The 23rd Meeting of the AICHR deliberated its commemorative activities for the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN, namely the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights, the 50th Anniversary Edition of the AICHR Booklet and Video, and the Launch of the Regional Action Plan (RAP) on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community. The RAP will be a joint undertaking between the AICHR and the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD).

During its three-day meeting the AICHR extensively discussed its 2017 Priority Programmes that have expanded to new areas including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), access to education, judiciary and human rights, and right to safe drinking water and sanitation. The Meeting was also updated on the development of several ongoing thematic studies which are expected to be launched this year, namely on Legal Aid, the Right to Education, and on Women Affected by Natural Disasters.

On cross-pillar/cross-sectoral cooperation, the Meeting discussed their regular consultation with Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crimes (SOMTC) on the human rights-based approach to the implementation of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP). Other topics discussed included the proposed AICHR-ACWC Training Workshop on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the potential engagement with Senior Officials Meeting Responsible for Information (SOMRI).

The Meeting agreed to convene the 2nd ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights back-to-back with the AICHR Meeting in May 2017 at the ASEAN Secretariat.

The Meeting thanked the Representative of the Philippines to the AICHR and the Government of the Philippines for their gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements for the meeting. The 24th Meeting of the AICHR will be convened at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta on 15 to 19 May 2017.

First Meeting of the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community, 5-6 December 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

Posted on: 8 December, 2016

The Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community successfully convened its first meeting on 5 to 6 December 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Task Force was led by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR with the support from the Government of Japan through Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

The Task Force is entrusted with the mandate to draft a regional instrument that will serve to implement the ASEAN Vision 2025 on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities across all three pillars of the ASEAN Community through consultation among relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and stakeholders in the region, including disabled people organisations (DPOs).

On the first day, the meeting was briefed by the representative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) on the international and Asia Pacific framework for the promotion and protection of the rights and persons with disabilities as well on recent global developments. During the two-day meeting, the members of the Task Force extensively discussed current situations of persons with disabilities in the ASEAN region, and exchanged views regarding the gaps in the implementation of regional framework pertaining to disability rights and relevant challenges. The Task Force also deliberated on the framework for the draft regional instrument.

The second meeting of the Task Force is scheduled to take place on 2 to 3 February 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

AICHR Regional Workshop on Strengthening National Plans of Action on Trafficking in Persons to Ensure Effective Implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (APA), Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1 & 2 December 2016

Posted on: 4 December, 2016

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) conducted a Regional Workshop on Strengthening National Plans of Action on Trafficking in Persons to Ensure Effective Implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and ASEAN Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (APA) on 1 – 2 December 2016 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The Workshop was organized and led by the AICHR-Cambodia, with the support from the Republic of Korea (ROK) through ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund.

H.E. Keo Remy, the President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee was the Keynote Speaker of the Workshop. As the first country to ratify the ACTIP, H.E. Remy highlighted Cambodia’s commitments and efforts to counter trafficking in persons (TIP) covering various key strategies, notably the strengthening of laws and policies by enactment of various national anti-trafficking laws. In their remarks, the Chair of the AICHR, H.E. Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath and the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, H.E. Ms. Polyne Hean highlighted that this Workshop is part of the AICHR’s continued commitment to facilitate the mainstreaming of human rights-based approach in the implementation of the ACTIP and APA.

The Workshop was attended by relevant ASEAN Organs and Sectoral Bodies, international agencies as well as relevant Cambodian line ministries responsible for counter-trafficking. It examined the good practices and challenges of the national plans of action on TIP both inside and outside the ASEAN region. Some of the good practices highlighted include bilateral arrangements among the sending and receiving countries, the use of technology and social media to enhance anti-TIP efforts as well as the establishment of specialist units within the national agencies of the AMS to better address the issues of TIP. In terms of challenges, common issues faced by ASEAN Member States (AMS) include the limitation of resources and proper victims identification system.

The Workshop deliberated the recommendations to strengthen the national plans of action on TIP and looked into ways and means to integrate the provisions of the ACTIP and APA into the national plans of action, policies and legislation of the AMS. The relevant AMS were encouraged to ratify the ACTIP, integrate its provisions into their national plans of action and undertake mid-term stock-taking of their national plans of action to ensure their coherence with the ACTIP and APA.

 

Press Release of the 22nd Meeting of the AICHR, 23-25 November 2016, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR

Posted on: 29 November, 2016

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) successfully convened its 22nd Meeting from 23 to 25 November 2016 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath, the Representative of Lao PDR to the AICHR.

As part of its efforts to promote human rights in ASEAN, the Meeting was briefed on the outcomes of recently held AICHR activities, the AICHR-SOMTC Consultation on Human Rights-Based Approach in the Implementation of ACTIP and APA in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the AICHR Seminar on Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility on Human Rights in ASEAN in Singapore. For its efforts to realize a more inclusive ASEAN society, the Meeting also took note of the two AICHR activities pertaining to disabilities, namely the 2nd Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community and the AICHR Training Programme on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

During this three-day meeting, the Representatives of AICHR extensively discussed programmes and activities that the AICHR will undertake in 2017 to further regional cooperation on promoting human rights in ASEAN which will cover issues such as the right to education, sustainable development goals, and sharing good practices regarding international human rights law; as well as the continuation of several AICHR programmes, including the AICHR youth debate, regional dialogue on disability, workshop on human rights, environment and climate change, and the AICHR-SOMTC second consultation. Further, the first AICHR Judicial Colloquium on the Sharing of Good Practices Regarding International Human Rights Law is scheduled to be held on 6 – 8 March 2017 in Kuala Lumpur. The Colloquium seeks to encourage greater peer-to-peer interaction between senior apex court judges of ASEAN Member States in line with Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Marking the end of Lao PDR’s Chairmanship to the AICHR, the Meeting concluded with the handover of the AICHR Chairmanship from the Representative of Lao PDR to the Temporary Representative of the Philippines, Ambassador Belinda M. Ante. The Representatives expressed their high appreciation to H.E. Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath for his hard work and excellent Chairmanship over the past year.

The Meeting also thanked the Government of Lao PDR for the hospitality and excellent arrangements of the Meeting. The 23rd Meeting of the AICHR will be held in February in the Philippines.

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.

Press Release: Special Meeting of the AICHR, 27 – 28 October 2016, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Posted on: 29 October, 2016

The Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was convened on 27 – 28 October 2016 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. During the two-day Meeting, the AICHR discussed the progress of implementation of its Priority Programmes/Activities for the years 2015 – 2017 and adopted several new projects. The Meeting was also briefed on the outcomes of several AICHR Programmes/Activities which were recently concluded. The AICHR intends to enhance the mainstreaming of human rights into the three pillars of the ASEAN Community based on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

As part of its contribution towards the commemorative activities for the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN in 2017, the AICHR agreed to convene the fourth AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights with a special theme of “Forging Ahead Together towards a Sustainable Community” and to undertake human rights related activities during the celebration.

The AICHR met with the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism and agreed to explore possible areas of cooperation.  They also met with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) and identified common areas for future cooperation.

The Meeting deliberated applications of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) seeking for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR. The list of successful applications will be announced in due course.

The Meeting thanked the Government of Viet Nam for the gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the Meeting. The 22nd Meeting of the AICHR under Lao PDR’s chairmanship will be held on 23 – 25 November 2016, in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.