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U.S. secretary of state Clinton poses with ASEAN leaders during a meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta September 4, 2012 (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters).
Does the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Even Matter?

in INDONESIA, 30/09/2012

The Asia-Pacific remains the only UN-defined region that does not adhere to its own human rights treaty or possess a region-wide mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights. Thus, there was seemingly a lot riding on the backs of the ten ASEAN foreign ministers who gathered in New York on Thursday —on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly€” to review the second draft of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

Concern over the controversial draft (drawn up by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights) has, in the international media, far outweighed any sort of praise. 

Among the many aspects of the AHRD facing criticism are the possible inclusion of "public morality" as justification for suspending human rights, the opaque fashion in which the document was drafted, the limited participation of civil society organizations in its creation, and its failure to reference many of the marginalized populations who are in dire need of protection (including minorities, the LGBT community, and persons with disabilities).

Regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of these aspects, the fact remains that without a corresponding mechanism for enforcement, the AHRD, no matter how forceful its language, will be largely damned to irrelevance.

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