We, civil society organizations (CSOs) with consultative relationship with the AICHR are gathering in Bohol, Philippines, on 28 November 2017 to join the first interface meeting between AICHR and CSOs as part of the ASEAN Round Table Dialogue (RTD) on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). We would like to convey our appreciation toward AICHR and ASEAN Member States (AMS) for organizing this interface meeting.
We believe that this meeting is a pivotal moment for a better communication, coordination, and meaningful engagement between CSOs and AICHR in our common aspiration that no one is left behind in the ASEAN community. We welcome the initiative to discuss the AHRD, which was adopted in 2012 and recognize this is the first formal interface meeting between CSOs and AICHR.
In this occasion we would like to discuss ways to review towards better cooperation between CSOs and AICHR on the implementation of AHRD. We applaud the AMS commitment to the international human rights standard such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Convention of the Rights of the Children, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, International Conference on Population and Development, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other international instruments enshrined in the AHRD and Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of AHRD.
We support the recognition of rights to enjoy peace of its people within an ASEAN framework of security and stability, neutrality and freedom. The AHRD further reiterates the AMS commitment to enhance cooperation in the furtherance of peace, harmony, well-being, quality of life and stability in the region. Reiterating the general principles of the AHRD especially non-discrimination, to protect the rights of all peoples especially the most marginalized and vulnerable groups including but not limited to: women, children, the elderly, person with disabilities, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, ehtnic minorities, peoples with diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, and the key affected populations such as People who Use Drugs, People Living with HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis. We need to work together to urgently improve the human rights situation in the ASEAN region.
We are concerned about the shrinking democratic space that affects CSOs’ capacity and ability to effectively engage and complement AICHR’s work in upholding human rights. Therefore, as a pivotal step to enhance better cooperation, communication and involvement of CSOs on the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN, we call upon AICHR to: ● Advance and strengthen communication, cooperation, and exchange of ideas with the CSOs at the regional and national level through:
1. Institutionalising annual interface meetings between CSOs and AICHR to discuss key issues in the region;
2. Encouraging more CSOs to obtain CSO consultative status with AICHR; 1 FORUM-ASIA, CRC Asia, PKNI, Pusat KOMAS, SUARAM, IRF, ASETUC, HRRC, HRDF, AIPP, EMPOWER, VPD 9.25 AM 28 Nov 2017
3. Guaranteeing that CSOs with consultative status are invited of every AICHR regional and national consultations, and provided updates of these consultations;
4. Collaborating with CSOs in doing human rights advocacy, research, and awareness-raising activities;
● Create the communications mechanism between AICHR and CSOs to document key human rights concerns in the national and regional level for the protection and promotion of human rights in ASEAN;
● Support AMS in ensuring that human rights principles are consistently upheld, in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through: 1. Supporting CSOs in effectively monitoring the implementation of the SDGs in their respective AMS;
2. Providing independent input with regards to national implementation of the SDGs in the annual Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) whenever any AMS volunteered to be reviewed;
● Ensure that the results to AICHR’s regional consultations and dialogues have concrete improvements in the lives of the ASEAN peoples, through:
1. Enhancing transparency and wider participation reviewing the implementation of AHRD and its follow up activities;
2. Support and complement national human rights institutions’ independent reports to treaty bodies, including the Universal Periodic Review, whenever any AMS are under review, with specific focus on the implementation of the AHRD and other relevant ASEAN instrument;