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Jakarta Post

ASEAN: Chartering human rights

  • Debbie Stothard

Bangkok   /   Wed, July 25 2012   /  05:00 am

Mid-July saw ASEAN sink to unprecedented depths when leaders failed to issue a joint communiqué at its latest Ministerial Meeting in Cambodia because of disagreement over reference to the South China Sea dispute with China. Unsurprisingly, the Indonesian foreign minister called this latest roadblock to “ASEAN consensus” “utterly irresponsible”.

ASEAN consensus focuses on agreement among the governments of member states instead of consensus with the population. It routinely avoids and even suppresses public participation in key debates and initiatives relevant to the public interest. Nowhere is this more evident than the process of drafting an ASEAN human rights declaration.

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is tasked with drafting the declaration, but has done this largely behind tightly closed doors. Limited consultations with civil so...