Yangon, 10 January 2014. FORUM-ASIA (The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development) and Myanmar Equality today launched the Performance Report on the third year of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), in Yangon YMCA Hotel, Yangon. This report follows two previous annual reports prepared by a network of civil society organizations in ASEAN region called Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy – Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR). The launching of this report on the AICHR was held along with the beginning of Myanmar term as the chair of ASEAN in this 2014.
An important agenda for strengthening human rights in ASEAN will happen during the term of Myanmar as the chair of ASEAN in 2014; that is the review of the Term of Reference of the AICHR (AICHR ToR). FORUM-ASIA hopes that through the review of the AICHR ToR, this body will be given stronger mandates and support from ASEAN Member States. “We hope to see a progressive review of the AICHR ToR during Myanmar term in chairing ASEAN. Possible, that the result of this review of the AICHR ToR will be Myanmar’s legacy on human rights in ASEAN”, said Atnike Nova Sigiro (ASEAN Advocacy Manager of FORUM-ASIA).
This report which is produced by civil society organization, entitled “Still Window Dressing” show the provides comprehensive information on and a critical assessment of the work of the AICHR from 2011 until 2012, also aim to contribute to the review process of the AICHR ToR. Aung Myo Min from Equality Myanmar stated, “with the new situation inside Myanmar, Myanmar’s civil society should engage in the process as vibrant as civil society in other ASEAN countries. Our participation will enrich the review process which mainly will take place in Myanmar”.
Entitled “Still Window-dressing”, the report provides comprehensive information on and a critical assessment of the work of the AICHR from 2011 until 2012. FORUM-ASIA as the convenor of SAPA TFAHR views this report as one of the advocacy tools for strengthening this ASEAN human rights body. “We hope that through this regular assessment, civil society can contribute to strengthening the AICHR and help it become an independent and effective body that will protect and ensure human rights in ASEAN”, said Atnike Nova Sigiro (FORUM-ASIA Program Manager on ASEAN Advocacy).
The report finds that the AICHR’s work is still very limited and therefore its impact on the life of the people of ASEAN has been minimal. The mandates of AICHR still limited on promotion, therefore this body could not make response to any human rights situation on this region. Through this regular assessment since 2010, FORUM-ASIA and SAPA Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights has been actively advocating for an independent and effective ASEAN human rights body that protect and promote human rights in ASEAN.
The other focus of this report shows the lack of engagement between the AICHR and civil society. “Civil society organizations in many ASEAN countries have been calling for the AICHR to set up an inclusive guideline of engagement with civil society, but it is still not available until now. We heard that the AICHR will soon set up this guideline. We hope that the said guideline will be done by early 2014 so that civil society can involve in the review process since the very beginning” said Atnike from FORUM-ASIA.
“Civil society in ASEAN will continue advocating the AICHR to ensure that the body will work effectively in addressing human rights in ASEAN, especially as Myanmar civil society, we will ensure such process will bring a positive impact to the livelihood of the ASEAN people, including Myanmar”, said Aung Myo Min.