ASEAN’s commitment to human rights began after its initial six member countries participated in the United Nations’ World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria, in 1993. Subsequently, at the 26th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in July 1993, member countries declared their commitment in supporting the Vienna Declaration that resulted from the UN conference. This was the first time ASEAN publicly formed a consensus on building a region-wide human rights mechanism, which in turn is a fundamental premise to the establishment of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).
At the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November 2002, ASEAN leaders adopted the AHRD and declared that the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is to develop regional cooperation on human rights. Human rights also figures in the realization of the Roadmap Toward the ASEAN Community 2015.
Currently, four ASEAN bodies and committees focus different aspects of human rights in Southeast Asia. They are the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), and the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Right of Migrant Workers (ACMW).
The 2009 ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting adopted the 14 mandates of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). At the 2009 ASEAN Summit in Cha-am Hua Hin, Thailand, ten AICHR Representatives, one from each member country for a two-year term, were appointed and AICHR inaugurated.
The establishment of AICHR, as ASEAN’s overarching human rights institution, demonstrates its commitment to pursue forward-looking strategies to strengthen regional cooperation on human rights, with the overall responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN. Learn more about AICHR by visiting its website.
The ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) serves as ASEAN primary body on key regional priorities and cooperation in relation to gender mainstreaming and women’s advancement and concerns. With roots in the 1975 ASEAN Women Leaders’ Conference, the ACW was the result of the 2002 restructuring of the ASEAN Women’s Programme founded in 1981. The ACW participated in the drafting of the terms of reference for the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). Learn more about ACW by visiting its ASEAN webpage.
The ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Right of Migrant Workers (ACMW) was established at the 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the Philippines on July 30, 2007. The first ACMW meeting took place in Singapore on September 15-16, 2008. Learn more about ACMW work plan by visiting the ASEAN webpage.
The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) was inaugurated on April 7, 2010, at the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Learn more about ACWC by visiting its ASEAN webpage.