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                                                                                                                           Asean Affairs  June 21, 2013  

‘Still Window-dressing’: Civil Society Launches Third Performance Report on the AICHR
FORUM-ASIA (The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development) and People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF) yesterday launched the  Performance Report on the third year of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), in Holiday Inn Hotel – Silom, Bangkok. This report follows two previous annual reports prepared by a network of civil society organizations in ASEAN region called Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy – Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR).

Entitled “Still Window-dressing”, the report provides comprehensive information on and a critical assessment of the work of the AICHR from 2011 until 2012.  FORUM-ASIA as the convenor of SAPA TFAHR views this report as one of the advocacy tools for strengthening this ASEAN human rights body. “We hope that through this regular assessment, civil society can contribute to strengthening the AICHR and help it become an independent and effective body that will protect and ensure human rights in ASEAN”, said Atnike Nova Sigiro (FORUM-ASIA Program Manager on ASEAN Advocacy). However, the report finds that the AICHR’s work is still very limited and therefore its impact on the life of  the people of ASEAN has been minimal. She continued, “That is why it civil society view that the AICHR so far ‘Still a Window-dressing’ for ASEAN on its commitment towards human rights”

Chalida Tajaroensuk, a human rights activist from PEF-Thailand, stated that, “Civil society organizations in Thailand and other ASEAN countries have been actively pushing for greater participation of civil society organization. Critical assessment is one of the things that CSOs do, but we also give concrete input to the AICHR on many aspects of its work.”

The researcher of this report, Shiwei Ye, pointed out that the report is made based on information from different formal and also informal sources from ASEAN, AICHR, and also civil society organization. He said, “It was a challenging work to gather all of this input, since much of the official information regarding the work of the AICHR is not available through official sources such as the websites of ASEAN and the AICHR”. The Performance Report strongly recommends that the AICHR become transparent and inclusive in its work, including by publishing  all relevant information such as documents and its agenda of activities on its official website.

Commenting on the AICHR’s main activity during the period, the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, Dr. Yuval Ginbar, Legal Adviser for Amnesty International, said: “The Performance Report shows that the drafting process was secretive, with civil society being brought in too late in the process to have any meaningful effect. Decision-making in the AICHR was based on a consensus approach that gave veto powers to those with the most regressive positions. The result was a deeply flawed Declaration subjugating all human rights to overarching limitations, balancing exercises and so-called national and regional contexts. This means in effect that the Declaration prioritizes government powers over human rights.”  

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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