ASEAN: 5th Policy Dialogue on Human Rights with the European Union takes place in Brussels


ASEAN: 5th Policy Dialogue on Human Rights with the European Union takes place in Brussels

Brussels, 3 October

The European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded the 5th Policy Dialogue on Human Rights. The discussions, which also included a dialogue with civil society representatives from both Europe and Southeast Asia, marked another step forward in strengthening interregional cooperation to uphold human rights in both regions.

On 3 October, the EU and ASEAN held the 5th Policy Dialogue on Human Rights (PDHR) in Brussels.

The dialogue facilitated an exchange of views on human rights, including women’s and children’s rights, in their respective regions as well as on global developments and challenges with human rights implications. These challenges encompass violent conflicts, climate change, migration, and digital transformation.

The dialogue covered various thematic areas, including civil and political rights, business and human rights, environmental rights and climate change, gender equality and inclusion, rights of the child and persons with disabilities, migrant workers’ rights and trafficking in persons, freedom of expression and assembly, digital and human rights, and respecting human rights while countering violent extremism. They agreed to develop further activities in areas of mutual interest for the following two-year period.



The EU and ASEAN have taken additional steps to further enhance cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights in the regions. A partnership has been under discussion to involve the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the ASEAN Secretariat, and a representing institution from the EU. An upcoming follow-up dialogue (a joint activity between AICHR and the EU) on disinformation and misinformation is already scheduled for January 2024 in Singapore.

The 5th PDHR was preceded by the 3rd EU-ASEAN Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSO Forum) in Brussels on 2 October 2023, during which representatives from civil society organisations presented a joint policy recommendation to be taken into consideration in the framework of the dialogue.



Following the dialogue, ASEAN delegates will travel to Strasbourg, France, from 4 to 6 October 2023 to meet representatives from the European Parliament (EP), Council of Europe (CoE), European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe to discuss recent policy updates on human rights challenges and to enhance cooperation between different human rights mechanisms of the two regions.

The events reiterated both sides’ commitment to regional cooperation and integration, rules-based multilateralism, and to respecting and promoting international law and abide by internationally agreed norms and standards, in line with the UN Charter, the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, and EU treaties.



The dialogue was co-chaired by Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, and Yuyun Wahyuningrum, Representative of Indonesia to AICHR and Chair of AICHR 2023.

Nearly 30 ASEAN delegates participated, representing various key entities: The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR); The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC); The ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW); The ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW); and relevant divisions of the ASEAN Secretariat. Timor-Leste’s inaugural participation in this interregional dialogue as an observer, in line with established ASEAN guidelines, presented an opportunity to engage with both ASEAN and the EU on human rights matters and fortify relationships with both organizations. 


Launched in 2015, the EU- ASEAN Policy Dialogue on Human Rights is a high-level platform to discuss shared concerns on human rights, identify key challenges, and articulate a strategic framework for the EU-ASEAN collaboration. The biennial dialogue is alternately hosted by the EU and ASEAN. This engagement underscores human rights as a key part of the EU-ASEAN relations, which have been upgraded to a Strategic Partnership since 2020.

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