Public Debate: “ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism Post-2015 – An Indonesian Perspective”

More than one hundred (100) key national stakeholders – coming from relevant government agencies, academe, media, civil society, and members of the  diplomatic corps gathered in Erasmus Huis on Tuesday, 21  April 2015. It was for a Public Debate entitled “ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism Post-­2015 – An Indonesian Perspective”, which was organized by the Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Rafendi Djamin, Representative of Indonesia to the  AICHR, expressed his hope that the active participation of all key stakeholders  could provide inputs in strengthening existing ASEAN human rights mechanisms. He also took the opportunity to congratulate women’s emancipation and empowerment on the occasion of Hari Kartini.

Mr. W. Wouter Plomp, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Kingdom of  the Netherlands, in delight of the great turnout of the Debate, expressed his  optimism that the commitment of key stakeholders towards promoting human rights in the region will make way to the strengthening of the overall human  rights architecture in  ASEAN.

Furthermore, Mr. M. Chandra Widya Yudha, Director for ASEAN Political-­Security Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, highlighted that Indonesia has given special attention to human rights in the ASEAN Vision 2025 – namely through the strengthening of the AICHR’s  mandates, institutionalization of the human rights dialogue, strengthening of national human rights law in ASEAN Member States (AMS), encourage ratification of international human rights instrument by AMS, and encourage the establishment  of regional human rights conventions.

H.E. Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia 2001-­2009,  delivered the keynote address to kick-start discussions. Dr. Wirajuda gave a  comprehensive first person elaboration on the development of human rights – both nationally within Indonesia, as well as regionally throughout ASEAN. He  stated that Indonesia need to be bold and firm in practicing its diplomacy if  Indonesia wants to continue playing a leading and pivotal role in ASEAN. He also reminded the principle of non-­interference have been interpreted in a dynamic manner internationally, and added that the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action (VDPA) states that any gross violation of human rights is a matter of international concern. Moreover, he recognized the important role of civil society in the development of democracy and human rights. He emphasized that the FINAL development of human rights in ASEAN must be in par with the development of democracy, mindful that there is still a considerable lack of democracy in the region. Such, in his view, is the vision towards ASEAN 2025 in the context of human rights.

Following the keynote was a discussion in reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the existing human rights mechanisms in ASEAN. Facilitated by the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, the panel consisted of Ms. Roichatul Aswidah (Commissioner in the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia), Ms. Lily Purba (Representative of Indonesia for Women’s Rights in the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Right of Women and Children), Mr. Haris Azhar (Coordinator for the Commission of Missing Persons and Victims of Violence), and Ms. Yuniyanti Chuzaifah (Commissioner for Women’s Commission of Indonesia). The panel gave their  view on how human rights can be mainstreamed into the ASEAN Vision 2016-­2025, how the AICHR could synergize with other ASEAN bodies related to human rights, and how the TOR of the AICHR could be improved – namely in strengthening the Commission’s protection mandate.

The event was the first of a series of Public Discussion and Debate on  Human Rights in ASEAN, which will be held throughout the year by the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy in Jakarta. It is part of the Representative of Indonesia’s program in raising awareness on issues of human rights in ASEAN, namely to key national stakeholders.

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