Working Group for
an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism welcomes the imminent
creation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on
MANILA, 27 July 2009 - The Working Group for an ASEAN
Human Rights Mechanism welcomes the approval and adoption
of the Terms of Reference for the ASEAN Intergovernmental
Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) by the ASEAN Foreign
Ministers during the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in
It is apparent that the current ToR is not what we aspired
for. However, as the Working Group has constantly engaged
in a consultative, constructive and step by step process
with ASEAN on the issue of establishing an appropriate
regional human rights mechanism, it recognizes the fact
that the terms of reference is, ultimately, a political
document formed out of negotiations and compromises. Indeed,
the completion of the terms of reference and the imminent
establishment of the regional commission on human rights
are significant hallmarks of ASEAN’s move towards
a more people-oriented organization.
The Working Group further stresses the importance of
two very necessary processes which must manifest people’s
participation – the selection process for the AICHR’s
composition and the review process of the terms of reference.
The Working Group thus encourages governments of ASEAN
to adopt a participatory and transparent process in choosing
their representatives. Likewise, although the ToR provides
for a mandatory review after 5 years, the Working Group
believes that a discretionary review, when necessary,
should be undertaken to enhance the functions of the body
especially those concerning the protection of human rights.
Finally, the Working Group reiterates that the ASEAN
Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights is not the
aggregate mechanism of the envisioned human rights regime.
Any action to build on such a regime is welcome so long
as it is consistent with international human rights standards
and does not go below those standards.