ASEAN human rights body discuss priorities, protection agenda in the next decade


BANGKOK, 4 October 2022 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) held the 3rd Session of the “Regional Dialogue: Self-Assessment of AICHR Progress After 10 Years,” on 26 September, via videoconference.

The Regional Dialogue on AICHR’s self-assessment served as a platform for exchange of views within AICHR as well as with regional stakeholders on structural and operational challenges during the first ten years since its establishment.

During the first and second sessions held in 2021, current and former AICHR representatives reflected on the implementation of AICHR’s functions and mandates, and deliberated on areas to be strengthened for AICHR to solidify its position as the ASEAN human rights body. The 3rd session of the Dialogue focused on the evolutionary approach of AICHR and its priorities in discharging AICHR’s protection mandate through presentations and reflections of ‘stakeholders’ on the work of AICHR in the past years and its perceived role in comparison with human rights mechanisms in other regions.

In her opening remarks, Deputy Director-General of ASEAN Affairs Department of Thailand Bacharee Peungpak commended AICHR for conducting the Dialogue to continue the momentum of work to fortify efforts in respond to human rights challenges and contribute to building capacities to promote good governance and achieving the agenda of “no one is left behind.” She reiterated Thailand’s strong support to the common strategy on the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN.

Regional Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for Southeast Asia Cynthia Veliko shared in her opening speech that the previous sessions of the Regional Dialogue came up with recommendations in the context of multiple disruptions to human rights particularly in light of COVID-19, inequality, climate change, heightened securitisation, among others.

Discussions provided a synthesis of views among AICHR’s past and present representatives, regional experts and relevant stakeholders on the next decade of AICHR. Around 40 representatives from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, CSOs, NHRIs and relevant bodies attended the session.

Key recommendations by the keynote speakers and participants on priorities and protection agenda of AICHR in the next decade include:

  • AICHR to continue issuing statements of concern on human rights, including possible joint statements with ASEAN Sectoral Bodies on thematic issues.
  • Country-situation updates as recently undertaken in AICHR meeting to feed into thematic discussions and recommendations.
  • Country visits to be undertaken by AICHR.
  • AICHR to strengthen the mechanism for communications, and to explore workable modalities for grievance and remedies.
  • AICHR to work with existing international human rights mechanisms on fact-finding and investigation missions, possibly by forming an AICHR’s sub-committee for coordination.
  • New mandate holders with monitoring and investigative functions such as ASEAN Special Rapporteur or Independent Expert on thematic human rights to be established.
  • AICHR to link up with international human rights mechanisms, including the UPR process, and collaboration with UN Special Procedures and follow-ups on their recommendations.
  • Development of General Comments and/or policy advisory note on thematic human rights in ASEAN to be considered and in alignment with existing human rights norms and standards created by the UN human rights treaty bodies and Special Procedures.
  • AICHR to take stock of the implementation of ASEAN human rights instruments. Development of new ASEAN instruments on human rights, if any, should be consistent with and complementary to international human rights standards.

In addition to the AICHR-agreed recommendations from the 2021 sessions, which were submitted to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) for consideration on 9 September 2022, the recommendations consolidated from three sessions of the Regional Dialogue will also support the work of a Panel of Experts to be established by the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting as tasked by the 52nd AMM to discuss a review of the Terms of Reference of AICHR.

AICHR Thailand and AICHR Indonesia hosted this Dialogue with support from OHCHR.

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