Pillay urges ASEAN to set the bar high with its regional human rights declaration
11 May 2012 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday offered her encouragement to ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in drafting a regional human rights declaration, but called for a meaningful consultation on the draft with the widest spectrum of people in the region before it is presented to ASEAN’s foreign ministers in July.

As the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) concludes its latest drafting meeting in Bangkok, Pillay expressed her hope that the Declaration will play an important role in improving the enjoyment of human rights for people in South-East Asia.

“Regional human rights instruments should complement and reinforce international human rights standards,” Pillay said. “But my hope is that that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will go further by setting the bar higher for governments to ensure full protection and promotion of human rights through their policies, legislation and practices.”

While welcoming the consultation AICHR has had with ASEAN sectoral bodies as well as the planned consultation with NGOs at the end of June, Pillay emphasised that engaging early, in a transparent process of inclusive and meaningful consultation will help the Declaration to acquire the status and popular support it deserves.

“The process through which this crucial Declaration is adopted is almost as important as the content of the Declaration itself,” Pillay said. “I very much hope that AICHR recognises the value of holding meaningful consultations with people from all walks of life, in every country across the South-East Asia region.”

“This will help to ensure that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will have the distinction of embedding international human rights standards in the local context and representing the interests and aspirations of the people in the region.”

Pillay met with AICHR members as well as civil society groups and national human rights institutions from the region during her visit to the Indonesian island of Bali last November.

“During my visit last year, I heard about the fast pace at which the countries of the region are moving in terms of political reform and economic development, and how increased regional integration towards an ASEAN community in 2015 is reinforcing and complementing this process of change,” the High Commissioner said. “It is vital that universal human rights standards and principles shape this process of change – making the adoption of a credible ASEAN human rights instrument extremely significant and timely.”

The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is scheduled to be adopted by leaders during the ASEAN Summit this November.


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