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.
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:
See the ACWC TOR for a complete list of ACWC’s mandate and functions.
Like AICHR, the ACWC does not have a specific mandate to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.