At FORUM-ASIA, we employ a range of strategies to effectively achieve our goals and create a lasting impact.

Through a diverse array of approaches, FORUM-ASIA is dedicated to achieving our objectives and leaving a lasting imprint on human rights advocacy.

Who we work with

Our interventions are meticulously crafted and ready to enact tangible change, addressing pressing issues and empowering communities.

Each statements, letters, and publications are meticulously tailored, poised to transform challenges into opportunities, and to empower communities towards sustainable progress.

Multimedia Stories

With a firm commitment to turning ideas into action, FORUM-ASIA strives to create lasting change that leaves a positive legacy for future generations.

Explore our dedicated sub-sites to witness firsthand how FORUM-ASIA turns ideas into action, striving to create a legacy of lasting positive change for future generations.

Subscribe our monthly e-newsletter

ASEAN should establish a human rights body that is not below international standards

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

asean hrb.jpgCivil society organisations in the region are concerned that ASEAN
is about to establish a human rights body that is below international

asean hrb.jpg (Bangkok,
18 June 2009) Civil society organisations in the region are concerned that ASEAN
is about to establish a human rights body that is below international
standards. The Solidarity for Asian People's Advocacy Task Force on ASEAN
and Human Rights (SAPA TF-AHR), a network of more than 50 organisations, is
apprehensive that the final draft of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the
establishment of the ASEAN Human Rights body (AHRB) will result in a body that
will be engaged mostly in the promotion of human rights, while lacking a
mandate in protection work. The TOR is planned to be adopted by the ten Foreign
Ministers in the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Phuket,
Thailand, in July 2009.

is disturbing that we are only a month away from the AMM, yet, we continue to
hear that the protection mandate and the appointment of independent experts are
yet to be included in the TOR", said Rafendi Djamin, the coordinator of
Indonesian's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Working Group (HRWG).

should not go below international standards when setting up the ASEAN human rights
body", stressed Djamin, who is also Convenor of the SAPA TF-AHR.

are not rejecting ASEAN's plan to promote human rights but stressed that the
AHRB should be empowered to carry out protection work to address human rights
violations in the region.

Swee Seng, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, said that "while the promotion of
human rights is essential, in a region where human rights violations are common
place, it is of paramount importance that the first regional human rights
protection mechanism in Asia should have the mandate to carry out on-site
visits to inquire into specific human rights concerns as well as to investigate
human rights violations".

added, "The experience of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
showed that when they visited Argentina in 1979, they received 5,000
complaints. The ensuing report remains one of the most important reports
prepared by the IACHR as it showed patterns of how people were detained, taken
to secret detention centres and then extra-judicially executed."

Saray, the President of Cambodian Human Rights and Development (ADHOC), also
Cambodian focal point of SAPA TF-AHR said "Another key role for a human rights
body would also be to assess and review the general human rights situation in
the region and to publish reports and recommendations for collective action at
the regional level." He pointed out that this mechanism differs from the
universal periodic review (UPR) process of the United Nations Human Rights
Council. The UPR leaves the implementation of each country's commitments to
that particular country itself.

Naidu, the Gender Focal Point for SAPA TF-AHR and Programme Officer of the
International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific based in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, stressed that appointing experts to serve on the AHRB is vital. "They
should serve in their personal capacity to promote and protect human rights.
The selection process of these experts should be transparent, carried out after
extensive and meaningful consultations with civil society", said Naidu. 

body must provide human rights protection mechanism to ensure just remedies for
all victims. A body with teeth should be established, and not another toothless
mechanism", said Sinapan Samydorai, the Singapore Country Focal Point of SAPA
TF-AHR and the Convenor of the SAPA Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers.

envision an ASEAN Human Rights body that complies with the Paris Principles. It
must be to fulfill the ASEAN peoples' legitimate expectations for a body that
can protect their rights", added Cres Lucero, Philippines Country Focal
Point for SAPA TF-AHR and the Deputy Director of Task Force Detainees of the

TF-AHR was established during the first Regional Consultation on ASEAN and
Human Rights in Kuala Lumpur on 26-28 August 2007. It is a network of civil
society organisations which aims to a) hold ASEAN member states accountable to
their international and domestic human rights obligations, and b) make the
ASEAN human rights mechanisms more accountable and effective. Early in 2009,
the SAPA TFAHR launched the campaign on "we want ASEAN human rights commission
with teeth!: accountable, effective and independent".

more information, please contact:

  • Yap Swee Seng,
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (in Bangkok), +6681 868 9178, [email protected]
  • Rafendi Djamin,
    Indonesia's NGO Coalition on International Human Rights Advocacy (in Jakarta), +6281311442159, [email protected] 
  • Cres Lucero,
    Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (in Manila), +632 437 8054, [email protected]  
  • Thun Saray, Cambodia
    Human Rights and Development (in Phnom Penh), +855 23 218653, [email protected]
  • Sinapan Samydorai,
    Think Centre, (in Singapore), 6594791906, [email protected]