2012 Nov 19
November 19, 2012

Asean to protect human rights

0 Comment

PHNOM PENH: Asean leaders yesterday adopted the Asean Human Rights Declaration in committing themselves to further promoting and protecting human rights.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak signed the declaration on behalf of the Malaysian government at the Peace Palace here during the 21st Asean Summit. The other nine Asean leaders also signed the declaration.

The declaration, among others, protects the rights of people from all walks of life. The declaration is one of the important outcomes of this summit as the 10 member nations move towards establishing the Asean Community by 2015.

Asean secretary-general Dr Surin Pitsuwan said the declaration was a commitment by the grouping’s leaders in pursuing the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, not only based on “our way”, but also conforming to the highest international standards.

Asean leaders also decided that the Asean Community be established on Dec 31, 2015, when Malaysia takes over the chairmanship of the Asean Summit that year.

Najib said the date was chosen to give ample time for member nations to make preparations.

Initially, it was speculated that the Asean Community would be established by Jan 1, 2015.

The Asean Community will be based on three main pillars — Asean Political-Security Community, Asean Economic Community and Asean Socio-Cultural Community.

The Asean Community will be based on the region’s norms and values, creation of a single market with a 600 million population and a freer flow of trade and investment.

Najib said yesterday’s meeting acknowledged that 74.2 per cent of work towards the formation of the Asean Community had been achieved.

On the South China Sea issue, he said Asean leaders acknowledged that the sensitive issue needed to be resolved peacefully through talks.

Apart from China and Taiwan, four Asean countries, namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, have also made individual claims to parts of the waters.

On his bilateral meeting with Myanmar President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the summit, Najib said the leader appreciated Malaysia’s humanitarian assistance extended to both Muslims and Buddhists who became victims of recent violence in Rakhine state.

He said Thein Sein had informed him of Myanmar’s long-term solution to the problem, including the possibility of recognising the third generation of Rohingya as Myanmar citizens, as well as providing education and job opportunities for them.

Najib hoped the new development would enable 80,000 Rohingya, currently seeking shelter in Malaysia, to return home. Bernama