Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Civil Society’s Recommendations to the ASEAN Secretary General on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in ASEAN

Civil Society’s Recommendations to the ASEAN Secretary General
on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in ASEAN[1][1]
Submitted in Jakarta, Indonesia on 12 July 2011

1.    We, civil society organizations from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao P.D.R., Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, have gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia for the Second Informal High Level Meeting between the ASEAN Secretary General and Representatives of Civil Society in ASEAN, organized by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) on 11-12 July 2011, to provide feedback and recommendations to the ASEAN Secretary General on how he can help in the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN.

2.    We appreciate the commitment displayed by the ASEAN Secretary General to continue the process of dialogue with him. We are confident that the ASEAN Secretary General and civil society have a shared common understanding on the importance of the democratic and constructive dialogue and consultation with stakeholders, including civil society.

3.    We reiterate our recognition of the role of the ASEAN Secretary General as an important channel for civil society to hold ASEAN Member States accountable to their international and regional obligations to promote, protect and fulfill human rights as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.

4.    We welcome the move of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to start the drafting process for an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration that is expected to be adopted during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 2012.

5.    We see the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration as a landmark document that will define the human rights architecture in the region. We are prepared to contribute and engage with ASEAN to realize such document that will “uphold international human rights standards as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties” consistent with the Terms of Reference of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

6.    Despite one of the principles of ASEAN being “[t]o promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building,” we are concerned that there has been no institutionalized access for civil society to engage ASEAN at all levels. The limited access allowed by the different organs of ASEAN has been very much dependent on the chairmanship of such. Thus, civil society is not able to effectively participate in ASEAN community-building.

7.    We recognize that ASEAN is currently pursuing its goal of building an ASEAN Community by 2015. We are, however, alarmed that human rights is not mainstreamed in the Three ASEAN Community Blueprints. Worse, there has been no synergy displayed among the three ASEAN Community Pillars that further negatively impact on the rights of the ASEAN peoples.

8.    We renew our commitment to engage the official processes of ASEAN at all levels to be able to participate, contribute and ultimately benefit from the ASEAN Community envisioned for the peoples of ASEAN.

9.    We reiterate the call of many civil society organizations and groups for the need to have a platform to generate new ideas and further enhance existing mechanisms in ASEAN that deal with human rights. We have lots of ideas that can be considered by ASEAN to further develop its emerging human rights architecture.

10. At the same time, the following are the pressing unaddressed human rights issues in ASEAN:
·         migrant workers
·         refugees
·         asylum seekers
·         border disputes
·         trafficking
·         climate change and environment
·         political participation
·         discriminatory laws and practices (e.g., women and LGBTs, PWDs, IPs)
·         economic rights (e.g., land rights)
·         impunity.


11. We ask the ASEAN Secretary General to formally share his actions on our previous inputs submitted to him last 26 August 2009 on the occasion of the Regional Workshop on ASEAN Forum on Human Rights.

12. We request the ASEAN Secretary General to bring to the attention of the AICHR and ACWC the review of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints to develop coherence and cohesion of the ASEAN Community building process.

13. We urge the ASEAN Secretary General to encourage the development of protection mechanisms of human rights in ASEAN, in view of access to justice, particularly with the AICHR and ACWC.

14. We support the goal of ASEAN in mainstreaming human rights in all of its activities and work, it becoming a shared value. Such mainstreaming of human rights can start by partnering with civil society to gather ideas on how this goal can be realized, still as part of the ASEAN Community Building process. We therefore call on the ASEAN Secretary General to introduce and further strengthen this envisioned partnership in the ASEAN Secretariat and with all organs of ASEAN by taking concrete steps for its realization.

15. We reiterate the need for human rights to be immediately mainstreamed within the ASEAN Secretariat and its operations. This is in recognition of the important and critical role of the ASEAN Secretariat in servicing ASEAN and its Member States and by being their repository and resource center of all ASEAN-related documents and materials.

16. We call on the ASEAN Secretary General to encourage the different organs of ASEAN, more particularly the ASEAN Summit, the various ASEAN Ministerial Meetings, ASEAN Senior Officials Meetings, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, and all other relevant human rights bodies, to institutionalize a platform of dialogue with broader civil society. As such, we reiterate our previous call that any kind of accreditation in ASEAN should not be used to qualify who can participate and who cannot. The ASEAN accreditation guidelines must be simplified and open to all sectors of civil society and organizations in the region.

17. We request the ASEAN Secretary General to identify units in ASEAN that will receive all communications and submissions by ASEAN civil society. Such units should be responsible in disseminating the civil society inputs to the relevant offices within the Secretariat and ASEAN.

18. We encourage the ASEAN Secretary General to ensure the access to information of civil society to all documents, materials and information within the ASEAN Secretariat, by identifying units within the ASEAN Secretariat.

19. We call on the ASEAN Secretary General to direct the relevant offices in the ASEAN Secretariat to regularly update civil society and the public of developments, such as in the ASEAN website.

20. We acknowledge that all ASEAN Member States have ratified CRC and CEDAW. We urge the ASEAN Secretary General to develop a dedicated unit within the ASEAN Secretariat to support the secretariat needs of the ACWC, particularly by providing needed data on women and children’s issues.

21. We recommend to the ASEAN Secretary General to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues to address the above-mentioned regional human rights issues.

Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 July 2011

[1][1] Submitted on the occasion of the Second Informal High Level Meeting between the ASEAN Secretary General and Representatives of Civil Society in ASEAN, 11-12 July 2011, Jakarta, Indonesia.

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