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[Publication] Outcome Document from the Virtual Conference on ‘Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19: Addressing the Crisis in Southeast Asia’

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COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc throughout Southeast Asia. The health crisis has also catalysed the rise of authoritarianism, the over-securitisation of societies, and systemic efforts to suppress democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in the region. Hence, it is critical to activate, strengthen and protect spaces and mechanisms for civil society to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to monitor and hold duty bearers, especially governments, accountable. In such a worrying situation, coordination between civil society and mechanisms to protect human rights—at the national, regional, and international levels—is essential to ensure the protection and fulfilment of human rights and the State’s accountability to it.

From 9 to 10 August 2021, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) conducted a two-day conference entitled, ‘Human Rights in Times of Pandemic: Ways Forward to Address the Crisis in Southeast Asia.’

The conference aimed at highlighting and examining the situation of human rights while the COVID-19 pandemic rages in Southeast Asia. It sought to explore ways of collaboration amongst civil society organisations (CSOs), national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and ASEAN human rights mechanisms (AHRMs) in pursuit of sustainable and rights-based solutions. The conference brought together representatives from civil society organisations across the region, commissioners from the national human rights institutions of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor Leste, as well as representatives from ASEAN human rights mechanisms, namely the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

This publication, ‘Towards a Better Partnership Between Civil Society Organisations, National Human Rights Institutions, and ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms to Address the Pandemic’s Impact on the Human Rights Crisis in Southeast Asia—Outcome Document from the Virtual Conference on ‘Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19: Addressing the Crisis in Southeast Asia’ summarises the key points that were discussed in the conference and proposed collaboration from the CSOs, NHRIs, and human rights mechanism in ASEAN.

For the PDF version of the summary, click here.