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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Civil Society’s Recommendations to ASEAN

HE Min Lwin of Myanmar Moderated the Lunch Discussion. Far left - Dato Hasnudin Hamzah
(Malaysia's Permanent Representative to ASEAN)
To the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR), the ASEAN High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs, the ASEAN Secretary-General (ASG), and the ASEAN Secretariat

Jakarta, Indonesia, 22-24 October 2014

1.      We, members of civil society organizations, think tanks and youth groups from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 22nd-24 October 2014 for the 5th ASEAN Human Rights Forum: Dialogues between Civil Society Representatives and the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR), the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs, the ASEAN Secretary-General (ASG), and the ASEAN Secretariat. The main objectives of the series of forums are to provide a venue for civil society to have a regular dialogue with ASEAN officials on important issues and provide human rights-oriented inputs for the Post-2015 ASEAN Community Blueprints, especially on effective and meaningful ways of engagement with civil society.

2.      We take note that the ASEAN Charter and the Post-2015 ASEAN Community Blueprints are the reflection of ASEAN’s commitment for the protection and promotion of human rights in the region. However, not all actions in these Blueprints are consistent with the principles of human rights. Human rights are virtually ignored on provisions related to free trade, labour mobility, traditional security, trafficking in persons, and identity. All human rights are cross-cutting, inherent, interrelated, indivisible, and should concern everyone.

 3.      It is very important that the Post-2015 ASEAN Community Blueprints not only focus on building an integrated society, but also develop a roadmap toward a human rights and equality agenda in the region. A roadmap where people are treated as the rights holders and key actors in the decisions that affect them. Furthermore, communication and consultation must be established without delay.
Ms Yuyun Wahyuningrum of Human Rights Working Group who
together with CSIS were the main organisers.

Human Rights Roadmap for ASEAN Community Post-2015

 4.      ASEAN must seriously tackle the pressing human rights issues of the peoples of Southeast Asia. It must also transform the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to an independent human rights body by creating mechanisms that take into account the concerns of its people and guarantees their fundamental rights and freedoms. We are of the view that AICHR must ensure that the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) is, at all times, in accordance with universally accepted human rights standards.  

5.      We call on ASEAN Member States to promote human rights cooperation among ASEAN’s sectoral bodies in partnership with stakeholders including civil society organisations.

6.      We call on ASEAN Member States to establish a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) based on the Paris Principles in countries where such institutions do not yet exist.

 7.      We demand that ASEAN institutionalize mechanisms of regular reporting and feedback on human rights to ensure accountability of ASEAN to its peoples. ASEAN should set targets for the monitoring of human rights through a scorecard with appropriate metrics. ASEAN also must make these assessments publicly available.

8.      We call on ASEAN to adopt a human rights approach in all of its community building pillars with corresponding implementation mechanisms in coordination with AICHR and the ASEAN Community Councils.

 Human Rights Based Approach to ASEAN Community Post-2015

9.      We demand that the Post-2015 ASEAN Community Blueprints adopt principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, fairness, and transparency in their community actions plans. The Blueprints must be all-encompassing of groups that have been marginalized in the previous ones, such as but not limited to: people with disabilities, unskilled migrant workers and/or members of the informal sector, stateless persons, refugees, internally-displaced persons, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, indigenous peoples, persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and the rural poor.

10.  We call for ASEAN Member States to ratify all core human rights conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the United Nations Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Their Families, and International Labour Organisation (ILO) core labour standards.

11.  We urge ASEAN to expedite the finalization of the instrument on the protection and promotion and the rights of migrant workers in the establishment of the ASEAN Community by the 31st of December 2015.

12.  We also request ASEAN to review its investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and expand it further in recognition of the new problems that arise from capital mobility in the region.

13.  We urge ASEAN to emphasize people-centered security instead of state-centric security. To this end, we call on ASEAN human rights bodies to pay greater attention to extra-territorial obligations among ASEAN Member States.

14.  We call for ASEAN to establish an ASEAN Women’s Forum to regularly discuss the state of gender equality in the region.

 15.  We request that ASEAN translates its policies and publications to local ethnic languages.

Meaningful and Effective Civil Society Engagement

 16.  ASEAN should ensure people’s substantive participation in decision-making processes with adequate and accurate information as the basis for decisions. Substantive participation requires a democratic environment where people are free to peacefully form associations, voice their opinions, have access to information, and engage politically without intimidation and fear of persecution from governments.

17.  We call for ASEAN sectoral bodies and organs to develop mechanisms for civil society consultation and participation on a regular basis.

18.  We call on ASEAN to provide means of youth capacity-building to participate in platforms such ASEAN Forum on Youth Policies and contribute to the developing an ASEAN Youth Charter.

19.  We call for ASEAN to strengthen the capacity of the communications office within the ASEAN Secretariat staff to be able to deal with stakeholders, including civil society organisations and the public at large.

20.  We demand that ASEAN establish a mechanism within the ASEAN Secretariat to follow-up recommendations made by the ASEAN Youth Forum and the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF).

21.  We call for ASEAN to establish an ASEAN University to widen access to internship opportunities and knowledge related to ASEAN studies for all ASEAN Member States.

22.  As Malaysia will be the next chair of ASEAN in 2015 and as the ACSC marks its 10th anniversary there is now space for retrospection on the success, challenges, and threats in the region. We demand that the Malaysian government include the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as part of the 2015 ASEAN Chair’s agenda. This would include measures that ensure substantive equality, non-discrimination, participation, accountability, and transparency which reflect the country’s initiative in revitalizing moderation.

Three Malaysians CSO participants together with Dato Hasnudin Hamzah
(Malaysian Permanent Representative to ASEAN)

23.  We reiterate our commitment to engage with ASEAN’s process at both the national and regional levels. We believe this is one of the ways in keeping with the spirit and purpose of the ASEAN Charter: “to promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building” (Article 1.13 of the Charter).

Jakarta, 22 October 2014

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