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High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
UN rights chief to Southeast Asian leaders: make your landmark human rights declaration more inclusive

in WORLD, 12/11/2012

The top United Nations human rights official today called leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to review their efforts to produce the region’s first ever human rights declaration, saying there had been insufficient input from civil society and other stakeholders in the document’s drafting.

“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,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said at the 5th Annual Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia, where ASEAN leaders are among representatives of more than 80 governments and international organizations meeting to discuss promotion of democratic practices.

In expressing her concerns, Ms. Pillay noted that “inadequate involvement of civil society and other stakeholders” had prompted similar reservations “even among some members of the ASEAN institutions,” according to a news release from the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
She highlighted that blanket restrictions in the draft that were “not part of international human rights law,” the release noted, though she also welcomed the inclusion of many fundamental rights.

The declaration is one of the key mandates of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which the association of 10 member states created in 2009, saying it was intended to “promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedom” of the 600 million people within their borders. The declaration, according to OHCHR, is due to be adopted at the ASEAN Summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh later this month.

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