February 12, 2010

Workshop Enhances Civil Society Engagement with the ASEAN Intergovernmental

Hon. Michael Kirby, retired justice of the High Court of Australia, and Professor Maureen Maloney of the University of Victoria shared expertise during the workshop on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

February 2010

In January, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a three-day workshop on ensuring the effectiveness of the Association of Southeast AsianNations’ (ASEAN’s) Inter governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Morethan 35 people gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to explore opportunities forcivil society engagement with the recently established regional human rights body.

Prominent civil society representatives including lawyers, human rights activists and research institutions’ representatives from all 10 ASEAN member countries attended. They discussed the role of civil society inpromoting human rights through ASEAN before the establishment of the AICHR, thesignificance of the new institution for human rights in Southeast Asia and future civil society challenges and opportunities.

Eight international experts from outside the region also provided comparative expertise from the Inter-American, African and European human rights systems. The interactive sessions addressed preparation for effective engagement between civil society and new regional bodies, the evolution ofregional human rights systems, successful advocacy strategies in regional contexts and the impact of regional institutions on promoting human rights atnational levels.

Based on the discussions on other systems, participants identified importantopportunities for how civil society can encourage AICHR’s effectiveness,particularly in its early stages. Participants also developed plans to strengthen their regional networks, to increase public awareness of the AICHR and to engage constructively with the institution’s members and processes.

The workshop was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau ofDemocracy, Human Rights and Labor. A human rights mechanism for ASEAN was first proposed in the early–mid 1990s.

To learn more about our work in the ASEAN region, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <rol@staff.abanet.org>.