19 September 2014, Bangkok, Thailand
Lead by the Representative of Thailand, Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the AICHR conducted a workshop on the sharing of experiences on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process among ASEAN Member States on 19 September 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand, supported by the Royal Thai Government. The workshop was opened by remarks by the Chair of the AICHR, H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, and the keynote address by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Thai Government, H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow.
The workshop aimed to be a capacity-building forum for stakeholders in ASEAN Member States who are preparing for the Mid-Term review and Second Cycle of the UPR. It also aimed to be a consultative platform for the AICHR and the ASEAN Member States on the ways forward for their collaboration in the UPR process. The first session of the workshop dealt with the current developments on the UPR process and offered recommendations on how AICHR could contribute to the said process from a regional platfom. This was then followed by the presentation from Thailand on their experience with the Mid-Term Implementation Assessment Report. Thailand is the first country in South East Asia to submit itself to the Mid-term review. The session offered good practices and lessons learned from Thailand’s experience. The ASEAN Member States present appreciated Thailand’s willingness to share their experiences and assistance. Thailand was commended on their initiative and commitment to ensure the dissemination of their UPR report, monitoring and Mid-Term Report to all concerned parties including government agencies and stakeholders.
The workshop benefitted from the experiences of Switzerland, Viet Nam and Malaysia who shared their respective experiences and preparation for the UPR review. The resource persons also shared the difficulties faced in preparing the report as well as in implementing and monitoring due to limitation of manpower, resources and coordination with differing agencies.
The resource persons and participants proposed for the participation and contribution of the AICHR, as a regional human rights mechanism, in the UPR process. Their recommendations included among others, not only contribution by way of a report prepared and submitted by the AICHR on the ASEAN Member States but also of the AICHR’s participation in monitoring the implementation of the UPR’s recommendations and addressing the capacity gaps among Member States in dealing with the UPR process. It was also proposed for the AICHR to organise a ‘mock UPR exercise’ among the ASEAN Member States in preparation for the UPR at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UPR process is seen from a holistic view: it is not just a report writing exercise but its fundamental objective is to make real improvement on human rights on the ground. Accordingly, the process is a continuous learning exercise which should lead to the empowerment of the governments, people and all those concerned.
In closing, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR concluded that the current Terms of Reference (TOR) of the AICHR may not allow for the AICHR to take up all the recommendations of the workshop. This said, it may be open to creative interpretation in order to develop a regional plan of action and or organize possible activities that can be used to support the ASEAN Member States UPR processes.