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Joint Statement: Calling AICHR to release ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

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We, the undersigned civil society organizations and networks from Southeast Asia, express our grave concern and disappointment over the continuing secrecy in the drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is mandated under Article 4.2 of its Terms of Reference to develop an ASEAN Human Right Declaration with a view to establishing a framework for human rights cooperation through various ASEAN conventions and other instruments dealing with human rights. At the 6th meeting of the AICHR in Vientiane on 28 June – 2 July 2011, a Drafting Group was officially established by the AICHR to prepare a draft of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. In January 2012, the Drafting Group submitted to the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) a draft AHRD for deliberation and debate.

To this date, the draft AHRD remains confidential while the public has been excluded from any meaningful participation in the drafting process. There has not been any substantive and broad-based regional consultation with the peoples in the region on the draft AHRD.

While we commend the representatives of the AICHR from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for holding consultation with their civil society at national level, we are disturbed that no such initiative has taken place in the rest of the ASEAN countries.

If ASEAN’s aspiration to be “People-Oriented” is to be achieved, the AICHR that is tasked to defend the fundamental freedoms of the peoples in the region must set a good example in ensuring meaningful and substantive consultation and people’s participation in the drafting of the historic AHRD.

We therefore strongly urge the AICHR to heed the recommendation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, that “no discussion of human rights can be complete or credible without significant input from civil society and national human rights institutions” and immediately begin dialogues and consultations with civil society organizations on the AHRD.

We further call upon AICHR to implement the following steps to ensure that the drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will be credible, inclusive, transparent, reflective and consistent with universal human rights standards:

1) To immediately publicize the draft AHRD so that the public can meaningfully participate in the drafting process. Consultations will remain meaningless if the draft declaration is kept confidential and out of reach of the peoples.

2) AICHR representatives who are already conducting national consultations in their respective countries must continue to do so, and ensure that these consultations are held nation-wide and in an inclusive and more regular manner. They should further encourage other AICHR representatives that have not taken such initiatives to do the same. The AICHR should also conduct consultations both at national and regional levels, especially if national consultations are not applicable yet in particular places.

3) To translate the draft AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public participation in the region.

4) To ensure that consultation meetings of the AICHR will be inclusive of all stakeholders, especially civil society organizations and national human rights institutions.

Until and unless the AICHR consults and engages with all stakeholders in a transparent, meaningful and substantive manner, the AICHR should postpone its submission of the final draft of AHRD to the AESAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), which is scheduled to take place in July 2012.

This call is made to public as wide as possible in the ten countries of ASEAN and is endorsed by different sectors of civil society organizations such as youth organizations, women’s organizations, child rights organizations, LGBT organizations, migrant workers network organizations, labour unions, farmers organzitions, environmental organizations, human rights organizations, development organizations and some academic institutions. The joint statement is also translated into ASEAN major languages, Burmese, Bahasa-Indonesian, Bahasa-Malay, Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese to indicate our commitment to promote the basic human rights of the people that they are entitled to receive information and awareness about ASEAN and its works.

For Vietnamese version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Thai version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Burmese version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Bahasa Indonesia version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Khmer version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Laos version of the joint statement, please click Here.

For Bahasa Malaysia version of the joint statement, please click Here.

Media contacts:

Yap Swee Seng , Executive Director, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), +66 (0) 818689178

Aung Myo Min, Director and Founder, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), + 66 (0) 819925293

Mr. Pung Chhiv Kek, President, Cambodian League for the promotion and defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), + 885 (0) 12589091

Mr. Haris Azhar, Coordinator, Kontras, Indonesia, + 62 (0) 815-13302342

List of endorsers:

  1. Aceh Human Rights Coalition of NGO, Indonesia
  2. Action for Environment and Community (AEC), Cambodia
  3. All Arakan Students and Youth Congress (AASYC), Burma
  4. All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), Burma
  5. All Burma Students League (ABSL), Burma
  6. All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU), Burma
  7. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia
  8. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean Burma)
  9. Arakan League for Democracy (Exile) Youth (ALD-Youth), Burma
  10. ASEAN WATCH, Thailand
  11. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
  12. Asian Indigenous People’s Pact
  13. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma
  14. Back Pack Health Worker Team
  15. Banteay Srei, Cambodia
  16. Boat People SOS
  17. Building Community Voice (BCV), Cambodia
  18. Burma Issues, Burma
  19. Burma Medical Association, Burma
  20. Burma Partnership, Burma
  21. Burmese Women Union, Burma
  22. Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), Cambodia
  23. Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
  24. Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), Cambodia
  25. Cambodian Food Service Workers Federation (CFSWF), Cambodia
  26. Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), Cambodia
  27. Cambodian League for the promotion and defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Cambodia
  28. Cambodian Watchdog Council (CWC), Cambodia
  29. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), Cambodia
  30. Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines
  31. Child Rights Coalition-Asia
  32. Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), Burma
  33. Chin Students Union (CSU), Burma
  34. Christians for Social Justice (CJS), Cambodia
  35. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), Cambodia
  36. Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesia
  37. Community Action Network, Malaysia
  38. Community Resource Centre (CRC), Thailand
  39. Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
  40. Dignity International, Malaysia
  41. EarthRights International, Burma
  42. Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (EARTH), Thailand
  43. Education and Research Association for Consumers (ERA Consumer), Malaysia
  44. EMPOWER Foundation, Thailand
  45. Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC), Cambodia
  46. Ethnic Community Development Forum (ECDF-Burma)
  47. FOKER LSM, Papua
  48. Foundation for Consumers (FFC), Thailand
  49. Foundation for Ecological Recovery, Thailand
  50. Foundation for Sustainable Development, Thailand
  51. Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), Thailand
  52. Foundation for Women, Thailand
  53. EMPOWER Foundation, Thailand
  54. Highland Peoples Task force (HPT), Thailand
  55. Homenet, Thailand
  56. Housing Rights Task Force, Cambodia
  57. Human Rights Documentation Unit, Burma
  58. Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
  59. Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Burma
  60. Human Rights Lawyers Association, Thailand
  61. Humanum, Indonesia
  62. Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), Cambodia
  63. Indigenous People Task Force on ASEAN
  64. Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), Indonesia
  65. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
  66. JATAM, Indonesia
  67. Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand (KWAT), Burma
  68. Karen Youth Organization (KYO), Burma
  69. Kayan New Generation Youth (KNGY), Burma
  70. Khmer Ahimsa Organisation, Cambodia
  71. KIARA, Indonesia
  72. KontraS (National Office, Jakarta, Indonesia)
  73. Kuki Students Democratic Front (KSDF), Burma
  74. Lahu Women’s Organization, Burma
  75. Lao Movement for Human Rights (MLDH)
  76. LPSHAM, Indonesia
  77. M Plus Foundation, Thailand
  78. Messenger Band (MB), Cambodia
  79. Migrant Forum in Asia
  80. Migrante International, Philippines
  81. Mon Youth Progressive Organization (MYPO), Burma
  82. My Village Organization (MVi), Cambodia
  83. Naga Youth Organization (NYO), Burma
  84. National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (Youth), Burma
  85. Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), Burma
  86. Network for Human Rights Documentation in Burma
  87. Network of Eastern Democracy, Thailand
  88. NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD), Thailand
  89. Northern Development Foundation, Thailand
  90. One-2-One, Cambodia
  91. Pa O Youth Organization (PYO), Burma
  92. Palang Thai, Thailand
  93. Palaung Women’s Organization, Burma
  94. People’s Action for Change (PAC), Cambodia
  95. People’s Defense Force (Burma)
  96. People’s Empowerment Foundation
  97. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia
  98. Pokja 30, Indonesia
  99. Project for Ecological Awareness Building (EAB), Thailand
  100. Pro Rights Foundation, Thailand
  101. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (PUSAT KOMAS), Malaysia
  102. Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam
  103. Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Cambodia
  104. Sahakum Teang Tnaut (STT), Cambodia
  105. Sex Workers Organization, Thailand
  106. Shwe Gas movement
  107. SILAKA, Cambodia
  108. Social Action for Change (SAC), Cambodia
  109. Social Agenda Working Group, Social Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  110. Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), Philippines
  111. South East Asia Working Group/ Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network
  112. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
  113. Southeast Asia Coalition to stop Child Soldiers
  114. Southeast Asia Popular Communications Programme (SEAPCP)
  115. Students and Youth Congress of Burma
  116. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
  117. Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, Thailand
  118. Sustainable Development Foundation, Thailand
  119. Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO), Burma
  120. Tavoy Youth Organization (TYO), Burma
  121. Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation, Thailand
  122. Thai Working Group for Climate Justice (TCJ), Thailand
  123. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Cambodia
  124. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodian
  125. The Northeastern Women’s Network, Thailand
  126. Think Centre, Singapore
  127. Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), Thailand
  128. United Lahu Youth Organization, Burma
  129. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
  130. Volunteers for Sustainable Development (VSD), Cambodia
  131. Women and Children Protection Foundation, Thailand
  132. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
  133. YLBHI, Indonesia
  134. Yoma3 News Service, Burma
  135. Youth for Social Change, Myanmar
  136. Zomi Students and Youth Organization (ZSYO), Burma