The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened its Twelfth Meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat from 6 to 10 May 2013. The Meeting was chaired by H. E. Pehin Dato Dr. Awang Hj. Ahmad bin Hj. Jumat, the Representative of Brunei Darussalam and the Chair of the AICHR. The AICHR welcomed the new Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, H.E. Mr. Srun Thirith. The AICHR held several bilateral meetings, including with the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR), the Secretary-General of ASEAN, the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism and the representatives of relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, namely the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Women and Children (ACWC).
The joint annual meeting between the AICHR and the CPR takes place during the regular AICHR meetings. This practice of a joint annual meeting began in 2010 when the AICHR held its first meeting in the ASEAN Secretariat. The AICHR and the CPR discussed how both ASEAN bodies can work together in the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). It was agreed by both parties that a joint event on the AHRD would be held in conjunction with the celebration of the 46th ASEAN Day in August 2013.
With the Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh, the AICHR discussed how human rights could be mainstreamed into the ASEAN community building efforts with the involvement of all the ASEAN community pillars and the unique role the Secretary-General has with regards to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Secretary-General of ASEAN shared his views on the challenges of ASEAN, which resonated with the challenges faced by the AICHR in the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the AHRD. The Secretary-General also shared the ASEAN Secretariat’s efforts on mainstreaming human rights by conducting human rights training for the ASEAN Secretariat’s staff. He further expressed his readiness to consider the proposal for a dedicated unit to support the work of the AICHR in the context of the reorganisation of the ASEAN Secretariat’s structure.
The AICHR warmly welcomed the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis, and exchanged ideas of possible cooperation between the AICHR and the EU. The AICHR also met with the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, led by Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, and was informed of the activities and efforts conducted by the Working Group in support of the AICHR’s mandate. The Working Group reiterated their support to the AICHR in the implementation activities on the AHRD and looked towards further future cooperation.
The Meeting was informed of the latest developments from the work plans of the ACW and the ACWC. The AICHR commended the work of the Sectoral Bodies and discussed how to enhance cooperation in the promotion of human rights and avoid duplication.
The AICHR Meeting finalised the AICHR’s Annual Report for 2013 and their Priority Programmes/Activities for 2014 for submission to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in June 2013. The AICHR Representatives also had an extensive discussion on the need to establish a dedicated unit within the ASEAN Secretariat to support more efficiently the increasing work of the AICHR.
The Meeting expressed their appreciation to the ASEAN Secretariat for the hospitality and excellent arrangements. The AICHR plans to conduct a special meeting in August 2013 in Viet Nam.