Malaysia was one of the five founding members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. Malaysia has acted as ASEAN Chair in 1977, 1997 and 2005. Human rights-related achievements or statements of intent under Malaysia’s Chairmanship include:
- The 1997 “ASEAN Vision 2020” in which the ASEAN Heads of State committed to greater regional integration and articulated a vision of ASEAN becoming, “a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies”. Although there is no explicit mention of human rights in Vision 2020, there is a commitment to respect for the rule of law.
- Establishment of the ASEAN Foundation in 1997 as a channel for development cooperation between the ASEAN Member States, to alleviate poverty and to promote people-people exchanges.
- The establishment in 2005 of an Eminent Persons Group to draft the ASEAN Charter, the Charter which later allows for an ASEAN human rights body.