36th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 8: General Debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Oral Statement Delivered by Rosanna Ocampo on behalf of
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Monday, 25 September 2017
Mr. President, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) emphasises on regional arrangements. We note that this year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) commemorates its 50th anniversary. In the last five decades, it has done little to promote human rights as an integral part of its efforts towards a people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN. The regional body has failed to address deteriorating human rights situations in its member states, and the overall trend of shrinking democratic space within the region.
For example, the body has failed to act meaningfully on emerging reports of egregious violations in Burma/Myanmar, the mounting death toll from extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’, shrinking space for civil society in several ASEAN states, and rising intolerance as well as discrimination in the region. ASEAN’s approach of solidarity has often been at the cost of overlooking serious human rights violations and the rise of autocratic regimes in the region. This is contrary to the values espoused in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the commitment the Declaration makes to the VDPA and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Regretfully, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) lacks independent enforcement powers and has a limited protection mandate. AICHR must be strengthened and provided with a meaningful and effective mandate for the protection of human rights.
On ASEAN’s 50th anniversary, FORUM-ASIA calls on ASEAN to review and strengthen its approach to human rights, as well as AICHR, and ensure that the values of the VDPA, UDHR and the AHRD find meaningful implementation in the region.