promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms to complement the building of the ASEAN Community (2012) and five-year work plan (2011) which have been published in its official website. However, the Guideline further restricts the work of AICHR for being transparent and open to public participation. While the five-year work plan does not provide a direction onto what extent the progressive benchmark can be achieved periodically. Para. 4.2 – To develop an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration with a view to establishing a framework for human rights cooperation through various ASEAN conventions and other instruments dealing with human rights Despite the fact that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) signifies ASEAN’s collective acknowledgement to human rights codes, it has major disappointment and setback in upholding human rights in the region
. It is noted that AHRD has been translated into local languages of ASEAN countries. However, the popularization of the document is still relatively low at the national level. There is no effort from AICHR to provide clarification on the meaning of each right mentioned in AHRD, perform the actual implementation of it and mainstream it in ASEAN’s programs toward the building of integrated community by 2015 (and beyond). Rather, AICHR prefers to conduct a debate or art competition related to AHRD. AICHR should use AHRD as a tool to communicate with other organs in ASEAN on human rights, by developing a series of guidelines on human rights based approach to ASEAN integration. Unless, AICHR actually thinks AHRD is a useless document. Para. 4.3 – To enhance public awareness of human rights among the peoples of ASEAN through education, research and dissemination of information AICHR’s initiative to raise awareness and appreciation of human rights by publishing AICHR booklets, organizing the ASEAN Youth Debate on Human Rights as well as the public discussion on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration to commemorate the ASEAN’s anniversary and conducting road shows (Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines) should be commended. More public activities that involve wider audiences in all ten ASEAN countries are encouraged to increase the understanding of the role of AICHR in the region. It is well noted that some Representatives also utilize the social media to inform their activities to public. Para. 4.4 – To promote capacity building for In its 53 months of work, AICHR only conducted one training on
The end product of AHRD has failed to reflect the AICHR’s initial ambition for AHRD to add values to the existing international standards on human rights. AHRD does not recognize the freedom to assembly, which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has guaranteed such a right. AHRD also makes rights subject to national laws, which in reality have marginalized minorities, women, children, migrant and refugees. Further more, AHRD undermines international human rights standards by including the General Principle 6, which provides that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms “must be balanced with the performance of corresponding duties”. The enjoyment of human rights cannot be made conditional upon their performance of duties. In fact, human rights limit the scope and nature of the duties that States may impose on an individual. Another problematic paragraph is under General Principle 7, which states, “… must be considered in the regional and national context, bearing in mind different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical, and religious backgrounds.” As a matter of fact, under international law ASEAN Member States have the duty, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to respect and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. While General Principle 8 permits limitations and restrictions for all rights across in the Declaration as it stipulates, “national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality, as well as the general welfare of the peoples in a democratic society.” This category is so broad that could be interpreted to cover almost all States’ activities.