The annual consultation was held on 4 February 2014, at the Institute of Research and Development for Public Enterprises, in Bangkok, Thailand. Presided by H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, the consultation was joined by representatives from CSOs in various fields related to human rights – such as CSOs representing women, children, people with disabilities, refugees, migrant workers, trafficked persons and justice system. The purpose of the consultation was to present the AICHR activities conducted in 2013 and to outline the activities for 2014 that will be carried out by the AICHR and the Representative of Thailand in his own capacity. In addition, the consultation aimed to gather CSOs’ inputs to be presented and incorporated in the AICHR’s agendas and activities.
The main activities that were organised by the Representative of Thailand last year are:
1. The consultation with CSOs on the ASEAN Convention on the Elimination of Violence against Women;
2. The consultation with CSOs on the Draft guidelines of the AICHR’s relations with CSOs; and,
3. The AICHR Advanced Training on Human Rights: Training of the Trainers (16-20 November 2013, Bangkok, Thailand).
Apart from the activities in 2013, there are five crucial activities in 2014, which will be organised by the Representative of Thailand.
First, the review of the Terms of Reference of the AICHR. Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia are the lead countries of this activity. Thailand will organise a regional consultation on this subject matter in June 2014. Indonesia and Singapore will also each organise a workshop.
Second, the Guidelines on the AICHR’s Relations with CSOs. Thailand is a focal point of this subject matter. The draft Guidelines were initially drafted by Dr. Sriprapha Pecthmesree, the former Representative of Thailand. The revised draft guidelines, which incorporated national inputs were proposed by Thailand in the AICHR meeting last year in November. The draft guidelines will be submitted for the deliberation of the AICHR in the February meeting in Yangon and are expected to be adopted before the end of the year 2014.
Third, the Bangkok Human Rights Dialogue; Legal Aid for Vulnerable Groups in ASEAN: the Pathway toward a Caring Community. This dialogue will be organised by a personal capacity of the Representative of Thailand and will be held in August 2014.
Fourth, Special Meeting of the AICHR. Thailand will be hosting a Special meeting of the AICHR in November.
Fifth, the workshop on Regional Mechanisms. This workshop is included in the AICHR’s Five-Year Work Plan and Priority Programme/Activities for 2014. The workshop will be held after the Special meeting in November.
The representatives from CSOs proposed several issues related to human rights that they would like the AICHR to consider. One of major concerns of CSOs is the accessibility of the AICHR due to the lack of information and guidelines of engagement. This has created constraints to the work of CSOs. In addition, CSO representatives proposed the AICHR to develop common strategies for the ASEAN Member States to address the concerned issues, such as issues of human trafficking, migrant workers, freedom of media and expression, people with disabilities, forced-disappearance and torture. At the end of the meeting, the representatives from CSOs expressed their appreciation to the Representative of Thailand in organising the meeting and supporting their participation to the work of the AICHR. It was suggested that this kind of meeting should be organized regularly so CSOs can voice their concerns and provide inputs on the relevant issues and this will further enhance mandate of the AICHR.