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Print this pageASEAN: Lobby your government on human rights declaration!




Southeast Asian Press Alliance

Resource type:

News release


Information about developments towards a regional human rights declaration in Southeast Asia, encouraging people in the region to contact their country representatives of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights, as well as their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and independent human rights institution, suggesting 10 questions to ask them on key issues.

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[11 July 2012] - The 45th Ministerial Meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is currently underway in Phnom Penh and is scheduled to end on July 13, 2012. On the eve of the meeting, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) called on the members of the media community in the region to closely monitor the ministers’ crucial discussion on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration put forward by the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

The draft currently contains many elements that fall short of universal standards and principles on human rights under the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) that each ASEAN member is a party to, raising concerns in the civil society community that the regional human rights declaration will be undermined by the invocation of State sovereignty and national and regional particularities.

AICHR, whose first three-year mandate will expire at the end of 2012, has yet to establish a formal consultation with civil society, both at local and regional levels, on its deliberations on policies and workplans. There are still formal guidelines for its engagement with the media.

The consultations with civil society organisations (CSOs) on the draft declaration have so far been sporadic and limited in spite of repeated calls for a transparent and broad-based dialogue between the AICHR and CSOs on the draft.

Selected CSOs at local and international levels were invited to participate in a regional consultation about the draft in Kuala Lumpur on 22 June 2012, others were excluded for reasons not shared openly. But CSOs who participated in the meeting did not hear how their recommendations on improving the draft would be reflected in the refined draft before it was forwarded to the Ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh this week. Nor has there been any indication as to whether the report from the consultation will be made public.

In the interest of the people of ASEAN who have the right to access the draft that will directly affect their lives, SEAPA believes that the media has a critical role to play. They have come up with a list of 10 Top Questions to ASK your governments and national representatives to the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) about the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

They urge the media to use every opportunity to pose the following questions to the ASEAN officials in their country. This is a list of suggested questions addressing issues of transparency, public participation, meeting international standards, and freedom of opinion and expression:

1. Have the recommendations submitted by members of the civil society organisations been incorporated into the present draft in a meaningful way since the regional consultation with the CSOs in Kuala Lumpur on 22 June 2012?

2. Will the ASEAN foreign ministers make the draft declaration public and call for more broad-based consultation with the CSOs and experts working on human rights on the improvement of the draft before it is forwarded to the ASEAN leaders in November 2012?

3. How would ASEAN ensure that the draft Declaration will not undermine the universal standards and principles of human rights each member state is already subscribed to? And what then will be the purpose of having the declaration if it does not go beyond the reinforcement of the universal standards and principles? 

4. Does the draft Declaration recognise freedom of opinion and expression as instrumental to the realisation of other human rights? If this is the case, is this adequately reflected in the draft Declaration?

5. Is the protection of press freedom and the right to access public information adequately guaranteed so that it is not lower than the standards provided for under article 19 of the UDHR?

6. Does the draft Declaration clearly spell out the protection of the right to self-determination of traditional communities and of indigenous peoples of ASEAN in decision-making processes that will impact the political, social and economic aspects of their lives? If not, how is the right of indigenous peoples and traditional communities recognised under the Declaration?

7. Will the draft Declaration clearly spell out the protection of rights of marginalised groups such as stateless people, indigenous people, undocumented migrants, and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans gender people (LGBT)? If so, how?

8. How would ASEAN deal with the issues of non-derogable rights and limitation of rights?

9. Civil society strongly criticised the inclusion of “balancing rights and responsibilities” into the General Principle section of the draft, arguing that no other international or regional human rights instrument seeks to define the relationship between these two terms. How would ASEAN respond to this and is it likely that this provision will be removed from the draft Declaration?

10. What are some of the key elements in the current draft Declaration that reflect the concept of added value to the universal standards and practices both in terms of principles and substance?

Contacts for the Country Representatives to the AICHR

- Brunei Darussalam - Pehin Dato Dr. Awang Hj. Ahmad bin Hj. Jumat:

- Cambodia – H.E. Om Yentieng Representative:, or
                       Dr. Chealy Chet :

- Indonesia – Mr. Rafendi Djamin:

- Lao PDR – H.E. Mr. Bounkeut Sangsomsak Representative:

- Malaysia – Dato’ Muhammad Shafee Abdullah:

- Myanmar – Amb. Kyaw Tint Swe: and

- Philippines – Amb. Rosario Gonzales Manalo: and

- Singapore – Mr. Richard Magnus: and

- Thailand – Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree Representative: 

- Viet Nam – Amb. Nguyen Duy Hung:

- ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) - Ms. Leena Ghosh:


Contacts from the civil society groups

- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) - Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director:

- SEACA/ South East Asian Committee for Advocacy - Consuelo Katrina A. Lopa (Corinna), Regional Coordinator:

- Human Right Working Group for Advocacy (HRWG) (Indonesia) - Yuyun Wahayuningrum, senior policy advisor:

- Southeast Asia Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (SEASUCS) - Ryan V. Silverio, Convenor, regional coordinator:

- Southeast Asian Women’s Caucus on ASEAN - Nina Somera, representative:


Further Information:

Previous News release items

Organisation Contact Details:

Southeast Asian Press Alliance

Last updated 16/07/2012 09:30:31

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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