The 4th ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Human Rights Policy concluded on October 26 with all parties pledging to strengthen cooperation while reaffirming their commitment to further promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The three-day event, held at the ASEAN Secretariat in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, was led by Chin Malin, vice-president of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC). Malin represented Keo Remy, the CHRC president and rotating chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

According to an October 27 press release, the dialogue covered a broad range of human rights issues, including the protection of children and migrant workers’ rights, freedom of expression and religion, climate change and gender equality and social inclusion, as well as the protection of human rights while countering violent extremism.

The dialogue was an opportunity to take stock of key milestones of progress, and also an opportunity to discuss crises worldwide and their human rights ramifications. This included Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Myanmar, for which the EU raised particular concern.

“The EU and ASEAN stressed that multilateral and regional cooperation underpinned by the principles of the UN Charter, ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Human Rights Declaration [AHRD] and Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, EU treaties, and international human rights law is essential to overcome current challenges,” it said.

It added that the participants identified concrete steps to advance the promotion and protection of human rights. They also agreed to formalise cooperation in early 2023, in order to further strengthen the capacity of the AICHR.

Malin said national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from ASEAN and the EU shared best practices on ensuring access to justice as well as the prospects for human rights cooperation.

Bilateral meetings were also conducted between the EU delegation and representatives of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC); ASEAN Committee on the Implementation the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW); and the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW).

The press release added that Malin and EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore had exchanged views on the introduction of human rights measures required in the context of Cambodia, including the application of laws to maintain peace, stability and national development.