The 2019 AICHR Consultation on the Implementation of Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Freedom of Religion and Belief
Nusa Dua, Bali, 13 December 2019
On 11-13 December 2019, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) organised the AICHR Consultation on the Implementation of Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) on Freedom of Religion and Belief in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
In her opening remarks, the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, H.E. Yuyun Wahyuningrum, emphasized that Article 22 of the AHRD stipulates the right to freedom of religion and belief, including to manifest the religion or belief either individually or in community with others and in public or private in worship, observance, practice and teaching, without fear of intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack.
She also articulated that freedom of religion and belief is intrinsically linked to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and assembly as well as to other human rights and fundamental freedoms all of which contribute towards the building of pluralistic, tolerant, and democratic societies.
Mr. Faizal Chery Sidharta, Director for ASEAN Political-Security Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, underlined the importance of ASEAN’s effort to realize a community which embraces tolerance and moderation, fully respects the different religions, cultures, and languages, and upholds common values in the spirit of unity in diversity. He further noted the emergence of the threat of violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations. In this regard, he called on a balanced approach in addressing the issue in ASEAN.
Stressing on the promotion of religious freedom while combating faith-based hatred and intolerance, Ms. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, the former special staff of President of the Republic of Indonesia and the Director of Kalijaga Institute for Justice of the State Islamic University ‘Sunan Kalijaga’ Yogyakarta, proposed to mainstream co-existence and pro-existence approaches to encourage an effective social cooperation in reduction of ethno-religious conflicts in the ASEAN’s plural and multi-cultural society.
With the objective of providing a platform for ASEAN stakeholders to share practices and experiences on the implementation of freedom of religion and belief in ASEAN and obtaining a better understanding on the practices and experiences on the implementation of freedom of religion and belief in ASEAN, the two-and-half-day Consultation was structured into eight panels for discussion and group discussion.
Among other things, 66 participants who came from ASEAN Member States, civil society organizations, religious-based organizations, universities, national human rights institutions and also ASEAN sectoral bodies, discussed the challenges in addressing issues related to freedom of religion and belief in Southeast Asia, its implications, opportunities and strategies as well as the roles of stakeholders and the existing practices of the ASEAN Member States on grievances mechanisms and remedies.
At the end of the Consultation, participants came up with inputs on the formulation of the Recommendation on the Implementation of Article 22 of the AHRD to serve as a common language for human rights cooperation and actions in the context of regionalism in ASEAN.
The inputs include the detailed state obligations to respect, protect and fulfil freedom of religion and belief, the interrelated and indivisibility character of freedom of religion and belief, limitation of its freedom as well as gender perspective on the issue, and the need to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.
The Consultation was hosted by the AICHR Indonesia in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)