Working Group for ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism
Resolutions and Statements

Roadmap for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism

Introduction

It has been a long and winding road.

In 1993 the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) broached the possibility of establishing an (inter-governmental) mechanism on human rights for the region as follows:

“ (The Foreign Ministers) in support of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (of the World Conference on Human Rights) agreed that ASEAN should also consider the establishment of an appropriate regional mechanism on human rights.”

It is ten years on, since that seminal statement. Yet, no such mechanism has been established, and to date, ASEAN Governments have not yet put forward ideas on the shape and substance of such mechanism. It is thus high time to move from mere intention to more concretization.

Developments

The impetus for developing a regional inter-governmental human rights system was provided by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 in its reiteration that there is “the need to consider the possibility of establishing regional and sub-regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights where they do not already exist”. Since all ASEAN countries were represented at this World Conference, they were and are part of this momentum.

Subsequently ASEAN parliamentarians added their support to the impetus by their adoption of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary organization (AIPO) Declaration on Human Rights in 1993 stating that “it is likewise the task and responsibility of member States to establish an appropriate regional mechanism on human rights”.