Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Effectiveness of rights body an open question



Effectiveness of rights body an open question

Effectiveness of rights body an open question

Dear Editor,

The 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting that recently concluded in Phuket, Thailand, raised the question of whether ASEAN will be able to transform itself into an organisation capable of effectively addressing human rights issues in the region ("Rights body lacks teeth: NGOs", July 21, 2009).

For the past year, ASEAN civic groups have submitted documents stemming from dozens of national and regional conferences demanding that ASEAN devise a human rights mechanism to conduct fact-finding investigations, receive complaints from human rights victims and organisations, and conduct reviews of the human rights situations of member countries.

But the final terms of reference for the ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB), approved on July 20, do not reflect these recommendations.

Under the terms of reference, the body's mandate will involve primarily the promotion rather than the protection of human rights. There is no article mentioning possible actions the body could take against states found to have committed massive human rights violations.

ASEAN officials praised themselves for taking a progressive leap with the body, though we must note that ASEAN falls far behind Europe, Africa and the Americas, where regional commissions capable of investigating the human rights violations of member states have been in place for decades.

ASEAN must now reflect on how human rights can be effectively protected. ASEAN governments must not be so naïve as to think that criticism of rights violations will be directed towards the AHRB rather than individual nations. And both ASEAN and the AHRB must be ready to answer to citizens of ASEAN countries and the international community if, in the years to come, the AHRB fails to strike the right balance between human rights promotion and protection.

Pokpong Lawansiri
Bangkok

The writer is an analyst on Southeast Asian affairs.

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there