ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

Inside looking outJeff Willis USA

Inside looking outJeff Willis USA

A major issue in the 15th ASEAN Summit was the official establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) according to article 14 in the ASEAN Charter. That could be regarded as the success of ASEAN in building the ASEAN Community.

The AICHR is aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental rights and freedom of people in ASEAN countries. It would help people to enhance their quality of life by gaining peace, dignity, and wealth.

The government of each country gathered ideas and visions from people in several aspects to set the scope and measures for the AICHR.

Thailand also fully supports this inclusive process. Under the domestic sphere, article 190 of the 2007 Constitution requires full public participation in all agreements which Thailand enters into. Indeed, since the end of 2007 to date, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand has held 13 seminars and round-table discussions on ASEAN-related issues in particular the ASEAN Charter, the 3 Community Blueprints and ASEAN Human Rights Body.

The funding for the first year performance of AICHR is worth US200,000 and will be pooled each year by the member countries. The AICHR comprises 10 representatives from 10 ASEAN member countries who come from the social sector and should not involve the government. The benefit from such a commission is the cooperation in solving problem of the trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

However, there are diverse opinions and criticism on the roles and the tasks of AICHR about its freedom, neutrality, power, including performance efficiency since the said commission has the limited power to approach the violation of human rights within the countries. Such concerns affected the reliability and capability of AICHR towards the global community and people around the world had kept their eyes on ASEAN and AICHR’s performance, whether it would be a working organization or not.