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FORUM-ASIA releases updates on ratification records of Asian countries

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FORUM-ASIA released updates on the ratification record of key international human rights instruments of Asian governments on 10 December, Human Rights Day. The updates this year show that the ratification record of Asian governments remains dismal.
Today, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) released updates on the ratification record of key international human rights instruments of Asian governments. These updates are part of FORUM-ASIA’s P4R Campaign (Popularise, Ratify, Remove, Report and Remedy), which aims to popularise key international human rights instruments, encourage governments to ratify them, remove reservations made, and establish mechanisms for timely reporting and remedies under these instruments. The release of the updates also marks the celebration of the International Human Rights Day and the 59th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The updates this year show that the ratification record of Asian governments remains dismal. In 2007, it was only Japan which ratified a key international human rights instrument, the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Many governments have signed the two new instruments, the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, however they have yet to ratify these conventions and implement the standards embodied therein at the national level.

Certain governments also stand out with respect to the extent to which they are willing to be bound by the human rights instruments that they have signed and ratified. For instance, Malaysia, a member of the Human Rights Council, has ratified just two core human rights treaties – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and has entered a number of reservations against both. This is clearly unacceptable from a member of the main human rights body in the UN.

The updates also reveal certain patterns. Cambodia, for example, performs well when ranked according to the number of treaties ratified, but is the third worst country in the region when ranked by overdue reports to treaty monitoring bodies. This suggests not only a lack of resources, but the likelihood of a significant gap between the human rights obligations that the Cambodian government has assumed, and the extent to which those obligations have translated into domestic policies in the country.

FORUM-ASIA hopes that the material will be useful in the advocacy efforts of member and partner organisations and other civil society actors in the region. Considerable work clearly remains to be done if Asian states are to be convinced to fully engage with the international system for the protection of human rights.

For more information, please contact:

Anselmo Lee, Executive Director, Tel: +66 2 391 8801; [email protected];
Em Gil, Programme Manager, Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Programme, Tel: +66 2 391 8801 ext: 606; [email protected]