The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) has announced the “success” of recent human rights dialogue between the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the UN Office at Geneva. It noted that the talks had made a significant contribution to the implementation of a comprehensive partnership between ASEAN and the UN for the sake of the peoples of ASEAN.

A recent press release from the CHRC described the September 27-29 dialogues, attended by CHRC president Keo Remy CHRC member Ouch Nipun.

The release said an AICHR delegation, with the participation of observers from Timor-Leste, met with representatives from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), along with delegations from the OHCHR’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

It explained that the dialogue focused on the social, economic, political, development and business rights of all citizens, as well as with regard to environmental rights and climate change, the rules of law and the defence of human rights.

All sides emphasised the importance of cooperation in upholding and defending human rights in the region and the world. They sought to understand each other’s mandates and devise ways and means to address any challenges.

Nipun said in the press release that during the dialogue, all participants exchanged views, discussed what ASEAN has done so far and identified human rights challenges.

“This dialogue contributed to building the community of ASEAN. The ASEAN side studied UN mechanisms, along with other regional human rights mechanisms to see what we can learn and put into practice. We will continue to collaborate with the UN for the sake of upholding and protecting human rights,” she added.

She believed the dialogue marked a starting point for AICHR and the UN to seek to understand one another, in order to continue their cooperation and take steps to prepare for the second dialogue.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said the meeting had expanded the scope of cooperation between both sides, regarding human rights in ASEAN itself.

He added that the human rights principles of the AEAN members vary, from certain democratic and communist countries, while ASEAN common principles respect a unanimous voice. He noted that the human rights situations of a few ASEAN member states have not improved.

“Certain ASEAN member countries have deteriorating human rights situations. They have encountered many problems. Each of them has different human rights practices, as ASEAN adheres to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and the need to adopt a consensus. If we look at the Myanmar crisis, ASEAN has not yet been able to achieve a breakthrough,” he said.

He believed that each of the bloc’s members, including Cambodia, should conduct a periodic review and commit to improving their own human right situation. They should respect international human rights principles and accept the recommendations made by the UN so that the human rights situations of ASEAN will improve, in line with UN mechanisms.