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Spotlight on East-West Center in Washington: The ASEAN Commission on Human Rights and Beyond


EWC Visiting Fellow Dr. Hao Duy Phan discusses human rights mechanisms in Southeast Asia.

More than forty years after its founding, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is on the verge of establishing a human rights commission. On July 20, 2009, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting adopted the Terms of Reference for the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) designed to promote human rights and address human rights concerns among member countries. Though many regard the creation of AICHR as an important step forward for ASEAN, others argue that ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in the affairs of member nations will render AICHR ineffective in delivering real human rights protections.

At a recent East-West Center in Washington forum, Visiting Fellow Dr. Hao Duy Phan discussed the implications of AICHR and whether the body will be adequate and effective in responding to major human rights problems in the region. He also discussed the opportunities and challenges this initiative poses to regional governments and the international community. “The establishment of AICHR is not only an important first step forward for promoting universal human rights and creating a human rights system in Southeast Asia,” stated Phan. “It is also a significant development in ASEAN history with implications for regional politics.”

To download Dr. Phan’s Asia Pacific Bulletin on this topic, please click here .

To view Dr. Phan’s PowerPoint presentation from the EWC in Washington forum, please click here .