Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism
News and Updates

RWG Scores Double Victory in the 12th ASEAN Summit

The Regional Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (RWG) did not only have one but two good reasons for hailing the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cebu, Philippines as a success. Two of its core advocacies have been significantly advanced in the Summit. First, an ASEAN Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of the rights of Migrant Workers was passed. Second was the endorsement by ASEAN heads of state of a blueprint for the ASEAN Charter. The blueprint, which contained the recommendations of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), mentioned the need for a regional human rights mechanism.

RWG was highly encouraged by the acknowledgement of the EPG, comprised of former ASEAN statesmen and leaders, of the establishment of an ASEAN human rights mechanism as a worthy idea that should be pursued. It is hoped that the ASEAN accepts this recommendation and incorporates it in the final drafting of the ASEAN Charter later this year. Read the RWG Statement on the EPG’s Recommendations for Inclusion in the ASEAN Charter here.

The Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers is a pledge among ASEAN governments to ensure decent working conditions, protection from all forms of abuse and a guaranteed wage to migrant workers within the region. Although the declaration is not legally-binding and does not specifically say how it will implement its provisions, RWG still sees it as a significant move towards the creation of a sectoral mechanism that can protect migrant workers. Read the RWG statement on the ASEAN Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers here.

“These are positive developments,” said Working Group Program Manager Ray Paolo Santiago. “It demonstrates that ASEAN recognizes that human rights is a pressing concern in the region that must be properly addressed,” he said. “There are still many challenges ahead for the Working Group,” he added. “We will continue to meet with ASEAN, not merely to lobby for paper victories, but to ask how we can work together to realize these commitments.”