Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

NGOs feel ignored by ASEAN rights council

Despite renewed criticism from civil society and a call for its drafting to be postponed, finalisation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was well under way, officials said yesterday at the beginning of a week of ASEAN meetings.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and the Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the assembled diplomats had called for work on the declaration to advance.

“[We have] asked [AICHR] to engage with the stakeholders, including civil society, in preparing their ASEAN human rights declaration,” said Natalegawa, whose home country was chair of ASEAN last year.

His comments follow an open letter released on Friday by 63 civil-society organisations, asking for a postponement of the AHRD, which is due to be adopted in November.

The groups called for increased drafting transparency and civil-society consultation as well as the technical and expert assistance of UN agencies.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development executive director Yap Swee Seng told the Post the groups were worried the declaration will be undermined by the national, regional, cultural and historical context of the 10 nations.

“Of course, the track record of human rights in the region for many countries has been quite bad, and that is why it is important the human-rights declaration would set the standard for the government to follow,” Swee Seng said by telephone.

Continuing human-rights abuses by member states were also being left on the sidelines, Swee Seng said, pointing to sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination and enforced disappearances as examples of controversial abuses.

However, Kao Kim Hourn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ruled out any likelihood of a postponement.

“The first draft [of the declaration] is already a very good text. We still have time . . . That’s why ASEAN foreign ministers requested AICHR to continue to improve [the draft]. We expect to have a very good text to be ready for the [summit in November],” Kao Kim Hourn said at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

“The Asean foreign ministers also decided to release key elements of the draft.

“AICHR will have to come up with key elements, and those key elements will be released to the public,” he added, without saying when such elements would be released.

To contact the reporters on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]
Cheang Sokha at [email protected]


  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget