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.