ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children

History

The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) is an ASEAN regional human rights institution established in 2010. It is an intergovernmental commission comprising 20 representatives, two from each of the ASEAN ten Member States.

ASEAN first called for the establishment of a commission on the rights of women and children in the 2004 Vientiane Action Programme (VAP). In 2009, this Commission was included as part of ASEAN’s community-building plan - the “Roadmap for the ASEAN Community (2009-2015)”.

In 2009, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council endorsed ACWC’s Terms of Reference (TOR) and the Commission was formally established on 7 April 2010.  ACWC held its 1st official meeting until February 2011, once all ASEAN Member States had nominated their ACWC representatives.

Mandate

ACWC’s TOR defines ACWC’s purpose, mandate and functions. ACWC’s primary purpose is to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children in ASEAN. ACWC is tasked with upholding rights contained in the Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which all ten ASEAN Member States have ratified.

ACWC is mandated to, among other:

  1. Promote the implementation of international and ASEAN instruments on the rights of women and children.
  2. Advocate on behalf of women and children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, and encourage ASEAN Member States to improve their situation.
  3. Promote public awareness and education about the rights of women and children in ASEAN, including through promoting research on the situation and well-being of women and children.
  4. Assist, upon request by ASEAN Member States, in fulfilling their international human rights reporting obligations on women and child rights.
  5. Encourage ASEAN Member States to collect and analyze sex disaggregated data, and undertake periodic reviews of national legislation, policies, and practices related to the rights of women and children.
  6. Facilitate the sharing of experiences and good practices between ASEAN Member States in order to improve implementation of CEDAW and CRC.
  7. Support the participation of ASEAN women and children in dialogue and consultation processes in ASEAN related to the promotion and protection of their rights.

See the ACWC TOR for a complete list of ACWC’s mandate and functions.

Complaints of Human Rights Violations

Like AICHR, the ACWC does not have a specific mandate to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations.

Composition

Each Member State appoints two representatives to the ACWC, one representative on women’s rights and one representative on children’s rights. The ACWC TOR requires that representatives be appointed through a transparent, open and participatory selection process. When appointing their representatives, the ASEAN Member States must take into account; the candidates’ competence in women and/or child rights, their integrity and gender equality within the Commission.

ACWC Representatives serve on a voluntary and part-time basis. Each ACWC Representative serves a term of three years and may be re-appointed for a second term. The government may decide at any time to replace its ACWC Representative without notice or explanation.

ACWC Chairmanship

Chair  
2010 - 2013 Cambodia  
2013 - 2016 Brunei  
 

Decision Making Process

ACWC must meet at least twice a year and can hold additional meetings if required. Decision making in the ACWC shall be based on consultation and consensus in accordance with Article 20 of the ASEAN Charter. This means that, like AICHR, ACWC cannot act without the full agreement of all Representatives.

Line of Reporting

ACWC submits an annual report to the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD), copying the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and other relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies. The AMMSWD meets once every three years.

ACWC falls within the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint.

Public Information

ACWC is obliged, by its Terms of Reference, to keep the public periodically informed of its work and activities. ACWC does not yet have its own public information strategy or a website, but publishes press releases on the ASEAN website.

Activities

Since its establishment, the ACWC has held seven meetings, the most recent of which on 22-24 July 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting focused on finalising the draft Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW) and Elimination of Violence Against Children (VAC). During its Sixth Meeting of the ACWC, members discussed the 15 projects undertaken in the ACWC’s 2012-2016 Work Plan - adopted during the 16-18 February 2012 ACWC Fourth Meeting - and tabled for adoption three new projects. As yet, none of ACWC’s planned activities have been implemented through to completion.