It is indeed an honor for me as Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to officiate this important occasion as we gather to celebrate the launch of the book on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD in the national languages of ASEAN Member States and to introduce the AHRD to all of you during the 46th Anniversary of ASEAN. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is a landmark document and milestone journey for our region demonstrating the commitment and support of ASEAN to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Promoting and protection of human rights cooperation in ASEAN is an evolving process. It was started by the endorsement of the Joint Communique of the 26th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 1993 in which ASEAN pledged, for the first time, its commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom. The United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria acknowledged and welcome this commitment. Since then, the process of establishing an ASEAN Mechanism to promote and protect human rights has been started.
Hanoi Plan of Action, as the first Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Vision 20202 reemphasized ASEAN's commitment to exchange information among its members on the promotion and protection of Human Rights as elaborated in section IV, paragraph 4.8.3 As the second phase of the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020, the 2004 Vientiane Action Program, under the sub-section Political Development, ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to promote human rights and fundamental freedom. ASEAN Charter that was entered into force at the end of 2008 gave a significant leapfrog to
the ASEAN’s efforts to establish its Human Rights mechanisms and to promote further the protection of human rights and fundamental freedom. As the last phase to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020 and the establishment of the ASEAN Community 2015, the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint, particularly under section A.1.5, charted the way forward to further strengthen ASEAN's commitment on the promotion and protection of human rights.
The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) established as the follow up the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, took up its role as the ASEAN overarching mechanism to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedom in close collaboration with other mechanisms, including the ACWC. Although the current role of the AICHR is mainly focusing on human rights promotion, however, a significant progress has been achieved in its work to develop the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which was endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders through the Phnom Penh Statement on the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
We, the Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (hereinafter referred to as “ASEAN”), namely Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, on the occasion of the 23rd ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam.
The ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection was adopted at the 23rd ASEAN Summit in 2013. The ASEAN Member States had declared to enforce adequate social protection measures, expand social insurance to the informal sector and social assistance to the unemployed and vulnerable groups.
As the overarching institution responsible for the promotion and protection of Human Rights in ASEAN, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter shall be referred to as “the AICHR”) will discharge its duties pursuant to Article 14 of the ASEAN Charter and the AICHR’s Terms of Reference (TOR). The operations of the AICHR shall be conducted in accordance to the following Guidelines:
WE, the Heads of State/Government of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the occasion of the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia;
REAFFIRMING ASEAN’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the purposes and the principles as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, including the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance;
REITERATING ASEAN and its Member States’ commitment to the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and other international human rights instruments, to which ASEAN Member States are parties as well as to relevant ASEAN declarations and instruments pertaining to human rights;
Pursuant to the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the AICHR, this five-year Work Plan for the period of 2010 – 2015 includes programmes and activities of the AICHR with indicative budget to be approved by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, upon the recommendation of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN.
AICHR is guided by the ASEAN Charter, the TOR of AICHR and the purposes and principles contained therein. AICHR desires that the ASEAN community shall be free from fear, war, aggression and poverty. The peoples of ASEAN shall enjoy the right to live in peace, dignity and prosperity. There shall be a balance between rights, duties and responsibilities of individuals in the context of the ASEAN Community. The Member States of ASEAN and all sectors of their respective societies have the shared responsibility to ensure the promotion and protection of these rights and duties.
The objective of the AICHR Work Plan 2010-2015 is to give reality to the Terms of Reference of AICHR. To that end, the Work Plan is aimed at realizing the aspiration of the people of ASEAN on human rights, strengthening AICHR, promoting awareness on human rights in ASEAN and enhancing cooperation with external partners, as well as to implement AICHR’s overarching mandate on human rights, thereby contributing to the successful building of an ASEAN Community by 2015.