The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) organized a regional workshop on domestication of human rights obligations, 17-18 December 2014 in Luanprabang, Lao PDR. In attendance of the workshop were H.E. Mr Bounkeut Sangsomsak, Minister of Justice, H.E. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the incoming Chair of AICHR, Representative of Malaysia to AICHR, H.E. Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath, Representative of Lao PDR to AICHR, Director General of the Department of Treaties and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among the participants were AICHR Representatives or alternates from ASEAN Member States, representatives from ASLOM, ACWC, ACW, ACMW, AIPA, ASEAN Secretariat, law and justice agencies and institutions of ASEAN Member States.
During the two day workshop participants shared national experiences on the implementation of human rights treaty obligations in ASEAN Member States, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which have been ratified by all 10 ASEAN countries. The participants also shared information on their national perspectives on incorporation, transformation and application of human rights treaty obligations as well as their national practices in giving effect to human rights obligations.
Mr Bounkeut Sangsomsak, Minister of Justice, who served as the Lao PDR’s Representative to AICHR (2009-2012) said in his opening address that with the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter in 2007, ASEAN has been moving firmly and decisively towards becoming a fully fledged rules-based regional organization. One of the purposes of ASEAN is to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, with due regard to the rights and responsibilities of the Member States of ASEAN. In November 2012, ASEAN leaders adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which is a product of the long and complicated negotiations and deliberations led by the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights. The AHRD reflects shared valued as well as diversities in the ASEAN region when it comes to promotion and protection of human rights. The Declaration adds values in many aspects to International Human Rights Law such as the recognition of the right to peace and the right to development, the need to give due regard to rights and responsibilities. ASEAN countries being state parties to legally binding treaties, namely CEDAW and CRC, are bound by the international law principle of pacta sunt servanda. In the sharing of experiences in this workshop, ASEAN aims to achieve an acceptable standard of common adherence to norms of good conduct with respect to the rights of women and children. Mr Bounkeut Sangsomsak who is also Lao PDR’s Minister for ALAWMM expressed his hope that with this workshop ASEAN’s concerned bodies would enhance the regional legal cooperation in the realization of human rights under the ASEAN Charter, the AHRD and other international and regional human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member Sates are party.