Placing Human Rights at the Forefront of Indonesia's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011
In the beginning of 2011, KontraS, HRWG and FORUM-ASIA on behalf of the Solidarity of Asian People's Advocacy (SAPA) Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (TFAHR), would like to welcome and highlight our demand for Indonesia's Chairmanship of ASEAN this year on the promotion and protection of human rights in the ASEAN region.
Having branded as a democratic country with respect for human rights within national and international communities, there is a high expectation on Indonesia towards its Chairmanship of ASEAN this year.
Therefore, as a civil society movement in Southeast Asia, we strongly hope that Indonesia should put human rights at the forefront of its Chairmanship's agenda and maximise its role in advancing human rights mechanism in ASEAN through several ways:
Firstly, providing support to the institutional building of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). It has been more than one year since the establishment of the AICHR. Yet, until today this human rights body cannot operate effectively due to the lack of resources such as the regional secretariat and staffs to support its work, let alone the political constraint among ASEAN member states. The same thing also applies to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). We hope that during its chairmanship, Indonesia can ensure that these human rights bodies will be equipped with sufficient resources to support its works.
Secondly, as stated in the ASEAN Charter that ASEAN is a 'people oriented' organization, it is important for Indonesia to show its willingness to broaden people's participation in ASEAN policy making, especially those policies which have a lot of impacts to the wellbeing of the people, such as the ASEAN instrument on Migrant Worker, the ASEAN Disability Forum, and the work of the ASEAN Community Councils. This can be achieved by providing institutional framework for the engagement of civil society. For example, how the Government of Indonesia can ensure that the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People Forum (APF) will serve as a meaningful forum for civil society to participate in ASEAN. How the Government of Indonesia can ensure that rooms are provided for civil society to follow and engage with ASEAN meetings: ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and ASEAN Summit, to name but a few examples.
Thirdly, having good image at the international level on human rights and democracy, we hope that Indonesia can also show its leadership in ASEAN in promoting and responding to human rights in this region. In the AICHR's work plan for 2011 and the Term of Reference (ToR) of the AICHR, AICHR has a mandate to draft the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. We strongly urge that the Government of Indonesia can play its diplomatic role to ensure that this declaration will finish timely and become a sound instrument that in line with the universal human rights.
We also hope that the Government of Indonesia can play its diplomatic role to persuade and push the ASEAN member states in responding to human rights situation in this region, such as what happens in Burma. As hoped by Aung San Suu Kyi in an interview in December 2010, she hopes that ASEAN and the government of Indonesia as the chair would urge the government of Burma to present an inclusive political process for improving the situation in Burma.
Finally, as civil society in the ASEAN region, we will continue our work to pursue better human rights promotion and protection in ASEAN and therefore welcome and expect the best of Indonesia as the Chair of ASEAN in 2011.
Jakarta, 6 January 2011
Solidarity of Asian People's Advocacy – Task Force on ASEAN & Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR)