ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was inaugurated in October 2009 as a consultative body of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The human rights commission exists to promote and protect human rights, and regional co-operation on human rights in the member states of (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam).[1] The AICHR meets at least twice per year.[1]

Human rights are referenced in the ASEAN Charter (Articles 1.7, 2.2.i and 14) and other key ASEAN documents. The commission operates through consultation and consensus—each of the 10 member states has veto power. The commission makes no provision for independent observers.[2]

The AICHR is directed by a body of representatives, one per member state, each nominated by and answerable to their government and serving a three-year term, renewable once. The commission has 14 mandates, mainly around the promotion and protection of human rights, capacity building, advice and technical assistance, information gathering and engagement with national, regional, and international bodies.[1][3] One of its mandates was "to develop an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration", but when this was adopted, in November 2012,[4] it came under criticism from human rights groups for including wording that suggested that access to human rights was contingent on "the performance of corresponding duties as every person has responsibilities to all other individuals, the community and the society where one lives".[5] NGOs in the region presented cases of alleged violations to it at its inaugural meeting in Jakarta.[6]

The commission has been described as "toothless" by observers including the Wall Street Journal.[2] The ASEAN chair at the time of AICHR's founding, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said that "...the commission's 'teeth' would be strengthened down the road",[7] but six years after AICHR's founding, critics charge that "...since it was launched,...[AICHR] has yet to take any action to safeguard the most basic freedoms of citizens it supposedly represents."[7]

AICHR Commission members


Name Country
Om Yenting  Cambodia
Rafendi Djamin  Indonesia
Bounkuet Sangsomsak  Laos
Awang Abdul Hamid Bakal  Malaysia
Kyaw Tint Swe  Myanmar
Rosario G. Manalo  Philippines
Richard Magnus  Singapore
Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree  Thailand
Do Ngoc Son  Vietnam


Name Country
Pehin Dato Dr. Awang Hj. Ahmad bin Hj. Jumat  Brunei
Srun Thirith  Cambodia
Rafendi Djamin  Indonesia
Phoukhong Sisoulath  Laos
Tan Sri Dato' Sri Dr. Muhammad Shafee Abdullah  Malaysia
U Kyaw Tint Swe  Myanmar
Rosario G. Manalo  Philippines
Chan Heng Chee  Singapore
Dr. Seree Nonthasoot  Thailand
Le Thi Thu  Vietnam


  1. ^ a b c ASEAN Secretariat (2012) AICHR: What you need to know, ISBN 978-602-7643-18-5
  2. ^ a b "Asean's Toothless Council". Wall Street Journal. 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  3. ^ Terms of Reference of AICHR Archived October 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Archived December 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ United Nations comment on Declaration
  6. ^ "NGOs to report rights abuse cases to AICHR". The Jakarta Post. 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  7. ^ a b Ganjanakhundee, Supalak (2016-05-18). "Asean's shameful silence over Thai rights crisis". The Nation. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  8. ^

Further reading

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External links

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

In 2009, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) established the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to promote human rights in the ten ASEAN countries. By mid-2012, the Commission had drafted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. The Declaration was adopted unanimously by ASEAN members at its 18 November 2012 meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Declaration details ASEAN nations' commitment to human rights for its 600 million people. The Declaration includes 40 paragraphs under 6 headings.The first five Articles affirm that human rights belong to "Every person," specifically emphasizing that they belong to "women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, and vulnerable and marginalised groups (Art 5). Article 10 directly affirms "all the civil and political rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," and these are detailed in Articles 11- 25. Article 26 next affirms "all the economic, social and cultural rights in the Universal Declaration...," with these described in Articles 27 to 34. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration goes beyond the Universal Declaration by making explicit "the right to safe drinking water and sanitation" (Art. 28. e.), "the right to a safe, clean and sustainable environment" (Art 28.f.), protection from discrimination in treatment for "people suffering from communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS" (Art. 29), the "right to development ... aimed at poverty alleviation, the creation of conditions including the protection and sustainability of the environment...(Art. 36), and the right to peace (Art. 30).However, the Commission has been widely criticized for the lack of transparency and failure to consult with ASEAN civil society during drafting process. The Declaration itself has been criticized by ASEAN civil society, international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the U.S. Department of State, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Human Rights Watch described it as a "declaration of government powers disguised as a declaration of human rights". ASEAN civil societies have noted that "The Declaration fails to include several key basic rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of association and the right to be free from enforced disappearance." Further, the Declaration contains clauses that many fear could be used to undermine human rights, such as “the realization of human rights must be considered in the regional and national context” (Art. 7), or that human rights might be limited to preserve "national security" or a narrowly defined “public morality” (Art. 8).The U.S. Department of State and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights welcomed the Declaration, but with substantive reservations. The U.S. State Department issued a statement of support, "in principle," for "ASEAN's efforts to develop a regional human rights declaration," but expressing concern for "the use of the concept of 'cultural relativism' ..., stipulating that domestic laws can trump universal human rights, incomplete descriptions that are mentioned elsewhere, introducing novel limits to rights, and language that could be read to suggest that individual rights are subject to group veto." The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights "welcomed the renewed commitment by leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to universal human rights norms" noting that "Other regions have shown how regional human rights systems can evolve and improve over time" and that "it is essential that ASEAN ensures that any language inconsistent with international human rights standards does not become a part of any binding regional human rights convention.”

Ampon Tangnoppakul

Ampon Tangnoppakul (Thai: อำพล ตั้งนพกุล; RTGS: Amphon Tangnopphakun; 1 January 1948 – 8 May 2012), commonly known in Thai as Ah Kong (อากง; meaning 'grandpa') or in English as Uncle SMS, was a Thai national accused of sending four Short Message Service (SMS) messages from his cell phones to Somkiat Khrongwatthanasuk, secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The messages were deemed offensive to the King and Queen of Thailand, as proscribed by section 112 of the Criminal Code of Thailand and the law on computer-related offences. Having been found guilty of four charges in November 2011, he was sentenced by the Criminal Court to four consecutive five-year terms, for a total of twenty years in prison. His death in prison during the first year of his sentence attracted national and international criticism, prompting a national discussion of Thailand's lèse majesté law.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) [previously known as Forum-Asia] is a membership-based regional human rights organisation with 58 member organisations in 19 countries across Asia. It is committed to the promotion and protection of all human rights including the right to development.

FORUM-ASIA was founded in 1991 in Manila, The Philippines and opened its Regional Secretariat in Bangkok in 1992. Subsequently, offices have also been opened in Geneva, Jakarta and Kathmandu. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.FORUM-ASIA is committed to building a peaceful, just, equitable and ecologically sustainable community of peoples and societies in Asia, where all human rights of all individuals, groups and peoples – in particular, the poor, marginalised and discriminated against – are fully respected and realised in accordance with internationally accepted human rights norms and standards.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN AH-see-ahn, AH-zee-ahn) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia. It also regularly engages other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as a global powerhouse, the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific, and a prominent and influential organisation. It is involved in numerous international affairs, and hosts diplomatic missions throughout the world.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations–European Union relations

The European Union-ASEAN relations refers to bilateral foreign relations between the two organizations, the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). EU and ASEAN have been interacting with each other on the economic, trade and political levels for more than four decades. The partnership between the EU and ASEAN dates back to 1972 when the EU (then known as the European Economic Community) became ASEAN's first formal dialogue partner.Relations between the two regions are expanding, developing progressively on the economic, political and cultural fronts. Dialogue between the two regions has been enhanced with numerous technical level meetings and bi-annual Ministerial meetings. Whereas in the past, much of the Europe–Southeast Asia relationship has focused on Southeast Asian development, the focus of cooperation has transformed to an emphasis on diplomacy, where the two sides discuses regional and international problems, and finally to a new emphasis on non-traditional risks and regional integration support.

Barry Desker

Barry Desker is a Singapore diplomat and corporate executive. He is the non-resident ambassador to the Vatican and Spain, as well as Singapore's representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Desker also serves as the chairman of the board of governors of Singapore Technologies Marine. He is a trustee of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, as well as a distinguished fellow and former dean of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. He is also a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.He was Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993. He retired from the foreign service in 1993 and was appointed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Trade Development Board (1994-2000). He was Singapore's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. He was previously on the Boards of Sime SembCorp Engineering Sdn Bhd, Sembawang Engineering and Construction (now SembCorp Utilities) and Jurong Port.

Desker took over as director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in 2000. The IDSS was expanded to a full graduate school and policy-focused think tank in 2007, and was renamed as the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Desker stepped down as dean of the school in 2014.Desker, a President's Scholar, graduated from the University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) degree and obtained his master's degree from the University of London.

Desker is also an Asia-Pacific member of the Trilateral Commission.

Chan Heng Chee

Chan Heng Chee (born 19 April 1942), , is a Singaporean academic and diplomat. She is currently the Ambassador-at-Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, chairman of the National Arts Council and a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights. She was Singapore's Ambassador to the United States from July 1996 to July 2012.

De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde

De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde Manila (DLS-CSB, Benilde) is a private Catholic college in the Malate district of Manila, Philippines. There are 3 campuses, one is along Taft Avenue, with two campuses along Pablo Ocampo Street and Arellano Avenue. The college is a member institution of De La Salle Philippines, a network of 16 schools under the De La Salle Brothers Philippine District.

The college was established in 1980 during the administration of Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC as the College of Career Development, a night school for working students at De La Salle University. In 1988, it was renamed the De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde, after Saint Bénilde Romançon, a Christian Brother who taught in France during the 19th century. In 1994, the college became autonomous, and in 2004, along with a restated vision and mission, received its present name, dropping the University and became De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde.

The college uses "learner-centered instruction" to offer degree and non-degree programs in the arts, design, management, service industries, computer applications in business, and special fields of study. The college is the first in the Philippines to offer degrees in animation, consular and diplomatic affairs, digital filmmaking, export management, fashion design and merchandising, multimedia arts, music production, photography and information technology major in game design and development.The college's sports teams, known as the Blazers, compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association with La Salle Green Hills representing the junior division. Since joining the league in 1998, the college has won five general championships, first in the 2005 season, back-to-back in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and another back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Human rights

Human rights are "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, freedom of expression, pursuit of happiness and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in science and culture, the right to work, and the right to education.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Human rights commission

A human rights commission, also known as a human relations commission, is a body set up to investigate, promote or protect human rights.

The term may refer to international, national or subnational bodies set up for this purpose, such as national human rights institutions or (usually temporary) truth and reconciliation commissions.

Human rights in Asia

The topic of Human Rights in Asia is one that encompasses an immense number of states, international governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations. All these institutions contribute a variety of services and perspectives towards human rights, covering topics including the enforcement, monitoring, and criticisms of human rights in Asia. There is no single body that covers all of human rights in Asia, as such a diverse and widespread region requires a number of institutions to properly monitor the multitude of elements that fall under the scope of human rights. There have historically been numerous criticisms of human rights in Asia, but a variety of new treaties and conventions now strive to accomplish a level of human rights as they are known on the international stage.

Human rights in Asia are monitored by many organizations (both governmental and non-governmental), a few examples being the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and Human Rights Watch. Tolerance of these organizations varies from state to state, with voluntary intergovernmental programs (i.e. ASEAN) often seeing more state-cooperation than neutral non-governmental organizations would typically receive.

The number of criticisms towards Asian states has dramatically increased in recent decades, with many human rights advocates calling for increased transparency and greater international pressure upon Asian states to refrain from any human rights infractions. Aforementioned calls for international pressure have gone unanswered, however, as most of the international community finds it increasingly difficult to challenge the actions of the growing Asian powers: particularly China. While states have put forward somewhat muted complaints in recent years, non-governmental organizations continue to 'name and shame' states that have shown themselves to be guilty of human rights infractions.

Kyaw Tint Swe

Kyaw Tint Swe (Burmese: ကျော်တင့်ဆွေ; born 19 March 1945) is a Burmese politician and incumbent Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar.

List of human rights articles by country

This is a list of human rights articles by country.

Rosario Manalo

Rosario Manalo (née González) is a career diplomat, political scientist, and educator in the Philippines. She is the Special Representative of the Philippines to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and has served as undersecretary of Foreign Affairs in charge of International Economic Relations from 1997 to 2001. Moreover, she has served as Philippine ambassador to Sweden (with concurrent accreditation in Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), to France (with concurrent accreditation in Portugal), to Belgium (with concurrent accreditation in Luxembourg) and to the European Economic Community.

Zoya Phan

Zoya Phan (born 27 October 1980) is a political activist from Burma of Karen descent. She resides in the United Kingdom, and is the Campaigns Manager of the human rights organization Burma Campaign UK. She was an outspoken critic of the Burmese government when it was under direct military rule, repeatedly calling for democratic reform in Burma, as well as economic sanctions from both the British government and the United Nations. Following political changes in the country from 2011, she has continued to campaign for international action to end ongoing human rights violations, especially regarding the use of rape and sexual violence against ethnic women by the Burmese Army.

In April 2009, she published her autobiography, Little Daughter, in the UK, which was published under the title Undaunted in the United States in May 2010.

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