MANILA, Philippines — A senior United Nations rights official on Friday called on leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to produce an “all inclusive” human rights declaration as she noted “inadequate” inputs from civil society groups in the document.
“This is not the hallmark of the democratic global governance to which ASEAN aspires, and it will only serve to undermine the respect and ownership that such an important declaration deserves,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said at the 5th Annual Bali Democracy Forum, where ASEAN leaders are among the representatives of more than 80 governments and international organizations meeting to discuss the promotion of democratic practices.
Leaders of the regional bloc’s 10 member-states are scheduled to adopt the rights declaration at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh later this month.
ASEAN groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Malaysia.
The declaration is one of the key mandates of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights established in 2009 to promote and protect human rights of citizens of the member-countries.
Pillay said the “inadequate involvement of civil society and other stakeholders” in drawing up the declaration had prompted similar reservations “even among some members of the ASEAN institutions.”
“I urge the governments of the region to take the necessary time to develop a Declaration that fully conforms with international human rights standards and is framed with the participation of all key stakeholders,” she said.
Pillay also welcomed the emergence of the Bali forum as an important platform for the promotion of good governance, the rule of law and human rights in the region.
“The Bali Democracy Forum is particularly relevant at this time when a new wave of democratic aspirations and change is sweeping different parts of the world,” she said.
“Intergovernmental regional gatherings like this one can provide effective and relevant platforms for bringing stakeholders together — but it is crucial that mechanisms exist for broad and meaningful consultations with civil society,” she added. –Stella Tomelda, InterAksyon.com
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