Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism
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NHRI Conference Assures Continued Cooperation with Working Group

Participants during the First Regional Conference on Building Networks to Strengthen ASEAN Human Rights Cooperation, held in Makati City on April 3 to 6, 2006, agreed that the four national human rights institutions in the ASEAN region should continue to collaborate with the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (the Working Group) towards the establishment of an appropriate regional mechanism on human rights as envisaged in the Joint Communiqué of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in 1993.

Representatives from national human rights institutions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand; ministries of foreign affairs and other government offices from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; the Working Group; and the ASEAN Secretariat resolved to engage the ASEAN Eminent Persons’ Group in order to ensure that the ASEAN Charter includes a principle calling for the establishment of an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

“This conference represents a positive step in the right direction towards the eventual establishment of national human rights institutions in all the countries in the ASEAN region,” said Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Vice Chairman Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Simon Sipaun in his opening remarks. “These institutions could become an effective pressure group to persuade their respective governments that they have nothing to lose by having an ASEAN Human Rights mechanism which is already in existence in the other continents of the world except in Asia,” he added. “If the creation of a Human Rights Mechanism for Asia appears too ambitious at present, I believe its establishment for the ASEAN region would be a more realistic goal. Any development which can contribute towards the achievement of such an objective would be welcomed and appreciated.”