The Enhancement of Human Rights in the ASEAN Region is Relatively Slow

ELSAM, Jakarta – Promotion of Human Rights in Southeast Asia region is still relatively slow. One possible cause is prolonged formulation of ASEAN Human Rights Body and its AICHR TOR, planned since 2009, but completed in 2014. AICHR TOR does not give a mandate to receive complaints should there be violations of human rights.

Indonesian former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Hasan Wirajuda expressed his personal view in the opening of public discussion entitled “The ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism Post-2015 Indonesian Perspective,” in Jakarta, on Tuesday (4/21). The Indonesian representative for ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in collaboration with the Embassy of Netherlands Kingdom for Indonesia organized this public discussion, and Deputy Head of Mission and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands W. Wouter Plomp and Director of the Political and Security Cooperation of ASEAN Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs M. Chandra Widya Yudha commenced this public discussion.

According to Hasan Wirajuda, the lagged promotion of human rights was mainly caused by four classic reasons. First, most ASEAN member countries have yet implemented democratic values. Although most ASEAN countries have introduced a general election system, but the political commitment of public officials is absolutely necessary to implement human rights.

The second reason is the inequality of development concept in Southeast Asia. Most ASEAN members emphasise the importance of economic development through ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) but often neglect the development of civil society freedom aspect.

Third, ASEAN member countries are still rigidly defining the concept of non-interference. For example, when Myanmar government committed act of violence to Muslims in Rohingya, they claimed that other countries cannot intervene the action of Myanmar government. In fact, the concept of non-interference has been recognized in Art. 2, paragraph (7) of the UN Charter.

Fourth, ASEAN member countries, for the sake of “ASEAN values”, often justify actions that are clearly contrary to the promotion of human rights in the region without interpreting this concept accurately.

Commissioner of National Commission on Human Rights Roichatul Aswidah, Indonesian Representative for ACWC Lily Purba, Commissioner of National Commision on Violence Against Women Yuniyanti Chuzaifah and coordinator of KontraS Haris Azhar were also invited as commentators in this public discussion, held at Erasmus Huis, Jakarta. They were asked to discuss three basic propositions, regarding the mainstreaming of human rights and gender equality in the 2016-2025 ASEAN vision; AICHR’s works for the next five years in order to work together with ASEAN sectoral bodies in the field of human rights; as well as AICHR’s creative steps for the next five years, in establishing mechanism for the protection of human rights in ASEAN.

Author: Bernhard RF. Sumigar
Editor: Purnama Ayu/Ari Yurino