MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is taking the lead in strengthening the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration amid concerns that it does not conform with universal human rights.

In a statement issued on Saturday, November 17, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said concerns were raised by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is deficient in many areas with respect to international standards.

“Since our President has strong views and is a staunch advocate of human rights, we also further take the position that ASEAN has this unique privilege to speak up firmly for all those who may not be able to do so,” Secretary del Rosario said at the ongoing ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh.

Secretary del Rosario also requested for an official ASEAN commitment to ensure that the implementation of the Declaration will comply with international human rights standards and instruments as a condition to joining the consensus.

An official commitment is expected to be included in the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. The declaration will be signed by the ASEAN Leaders during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on November 18, Sunday.

The full Declaration, as approved, will include provisions on civil and political rights, economic rights, social and cultural rights, right to development, rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups and cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights.

The Declaration was drafted by the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), a group of experts appointed by all ASEAN Member States. – Rappler.com