Call for Creation of ASEAN Human Rights Body; Quick Ratification
of ASEAN Charter
Dato' Param Cumaraswamy, Dato' Seri Nazri Aziz, Parliamentary
Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, and Hon. Teresa Kok.
The heads of state of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a Charter
that will turn the regional bloc into a rules-based organization.
The Charter embodies ASEAN’s commitment to the principles
of good governance and the rule of law. It also provides
for the establishment of a regional human rights body.
Now, it is left to parliamentarians in each ASEAN member-state
to ratify the Charter before it can be implemented. By
way of preparing for the next stage of the Charter process,
the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Caucus on Good Governance
(AIPCGG) held a colloquium at the Parliament House in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 3-4 December 2007 themed “good
governance, rule of law, and human rights: the way forward
for ASEAN”. Co-organized by the Working Group for
an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (Working Group) and supported
by the Malaysian government, the colloquium was the first
major ASEAN-wide event after the signing of the ASEAN
Charter. It was attended by members of parliament from
ASEAN member-states and representatives of civil society.
The tone of the colloquium was set by Y.B. Datuk Seri
Mohamed Nazri Bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, chairman of the
AIPCGG: “We aspire to provide a forum for ASEAN
parliamentarians concerned about good governance issues.
It is clear that the concept of good governance is being
envisaged as the norm of the ASEAN Community. My hope
is that this colloquium will be able to propose suggestions
and recommendations for the improvement of good governance,
rule of law, and human rights in ASEAN”. Datuk Aziz,
who is also a minister in the prime minister’s department,
said that he was pleased that the promotion and protection
of human rights and good governance were upheld in the
To concretize their commitments and the outputs of their
discussions, the parliamentarians drew an AIPCGG
Plan of Action. In here, they endeavored to advocate
the ratification of the ASEAN Charter as early as possible.
They also committed to support the adoption of the terms
of reference that will establish an effective and independent
ASEAN human rights body.
The Working Group said that they were encouraged by
the support of the AIPCGG parliamentarians for the human
rights elements of the Charter. The ratification of the
Charter would mean that work on establishing an ASEAN
human rights body can begin. “We strongly believe
that parliamentarians have a crucial role on the promotion
of good governance, the rule of law, and human rights
in our region. We are grateful for this opportunity to
engage them,” said Chairperson Wigberto Tañada
of the Philippine Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights
The AIPCGG was organized in December 2005 and launched
in July 2006 by members of parliament from ASEAN member-states
who are concerned about good governance issues of accountability,
transparency, integrity, justice, democracy, human rights,
the rule of law, and participation. Its steering committee
is comprised of Dr. Muhammad AS Hikam (Indonesia), Senator
Aquilino Pimentel (Philippines), Senator Kraisak Choonhaven
(Thailand), Hon. Charles Chong (Singapore), Dr. Than Sina
(Cambodia), and Hon. Lim Kit Siang (Malaysia).
here to view the joint press statement by AIPCGG Chairman
Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz and Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy
of the Working Group.