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The 2nd AICHR Regional Dialogue on Mainstreaming of the Right to Education in the ASEAN Community, 20-22 October 2019, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened its 2nd Regional Dialogue on Mainstreaming of the Right to Education in the ASEAN Community on 20-22 October 2019 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This is a follow-up event from the first dialogue on mainstreaming of the right to education across the three Community Pillars of ASEAN, which was organised in Cambodia in 2017.

As one of the activities in series of the AICHR on the right to education, the three-day Dialogue aims at: (i) raising awareness of the right to education as a cross-cutting issue in ASEAN; (ii) garnering inputs from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and relevant stakeholders to mainstream the right to education across the three Community Pillars of ASEAN; and (iii) creating a platform to strengthen regional cooperation on education and human rights.

The Dialogue gathered more than one hundred participants from the ASEAN Member States (AMS), ASEAN Organs, ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, Entities Associated with ASEAN, UN and international agencies and various stakeholders of ASEAN and its partners – including ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED), ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY), ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM), ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI), ASEAN Foundation, ASEAN Secretariat, Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, ASEAN Disability Forum, SEAMEO INNOTECH, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and International Labour Organization (ILO). In addition, there were relevant representatives from some government agencies of the AMS, national human rights institutions, CSOs dealing with education and human rights and academes from the region.

 

 

In her welcome speech during the Dialogue’s Opening Ceremony, H.E. Polyne Hean, Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, highlighted that the foundation of this regional dialogue series is based on common understanding that “Education is a fundamental human rights that should be promoted”. She underscored that it is imperative “to make education a meaningful right, education should be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. Participation and contribution from relevant stakeholders, especially from the ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, is another step forward in mainstreaming the right to education in the ASEAN Community.”

Further, H.E. Polyne pointed out the need for continued cooperation from pertinent bodies of ASEAN and relevant stakeholders that, “Coming together is a beginning, and our journey began in 2017; staying together is progress, which we are meeting during these three days; and working together is success that we should continue to further mainstream the right to education across the three Community Pillars of ASEAN, namely APSC, AEC and ASCC,” she added.

The Dialogue was also graced by H.E. Remy Keo, Minister attached to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee. H.E. Remy stated, “Education is a fundamental right. Education is a human rights means that the right to education is legally guaranteed for all without any discrimination and states have the obligation to promote the right to quality and access to education.” Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education submitted her recorded message to the Dialogue whereby she underlined that the right to education for all is key in sustaining economic development of nations. She also drew the point on the role of education as a means to achieve peace and prevent mass atrocities, genocides, human right violations and conflict. In addition, H.E. Remy highlighted some of ASEAN’s commitments and initiatives in the realisation of the right to education, among others, the 2009 Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation on Education to Achieve ASEAN Caring and Sharing Community, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and the ASEAN Work Plans on Education.

 

 

Pursuant to the Dialogue’s objectives, the 2nd Regional Dialogue mapped out good practices and challenges pertaining to the promotion of (i) the right to inclusive education for women, children and persons with disabilities, (ii) the right to education for development, (iii) the right to education for employment, (iv) the right to education in digital age, and (v) human rights education in ASEAN. The experts and participants shared good practices and challenges to enhancing the right to quality and inclusive education and discussed possible ways forward for the AICHR as well as relevant bodies of ASEAN to contribute to the mainstreaming of the right to education in the ASEAN Community.

At the close of the Dialogue, the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, as the host, expressed confidence that the Dialogue would be a strong platform to further strengthen regional cooperation on education and human rights and sought full support from relevant stakeholders to continue enhancing the right to education in the region.

The Dialogue was organised by the AICHR-Cambodia and received financial support from the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund (ACCF).

 

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