ASEAN INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (AICHR)
Article 14 of the ASEAN Charter states that “in conformity with the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, ASEAN shall establish an ASEAN human rights body”. On this basis, the High Level Panel on an ASEAN Human Rights Body drafted the Terms of Reference (TOR) of AICHR, which was then adopted by the ASEAN Minister Meeting in July 2009.
On 23 October 2009, the ten AICHR Representatives, representing each of the ASEAN Member States were appointed. AICHR was inaugurated at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am Hua Hin, Thailand. The AICHR is part of the intergovernmental cooperation on human rights and this was reflected in the Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on the Inauguration of the AICHR.
The establishment of AICHR demonstrates ASEAN’s commitment to pursue forward-looking strategies to strengthen regional cooperation on human rights. This has been designed to be an integral part of ASEAN organisational structure and an overarching institution with overall responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN.
In term of decision-making, the AICHR adopts consultation and consensus basis. The AICHR engages in dialogues and consultation with entities associated with ASEAN, and also consults national, regional and international institutions and entities concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights. The AICHR holds two regular meetings in a year and additional meetings when required. The AICHR has produced several foundational documents as a framework and basis for its operationalisation. These include;
- AICHR Five Year Plan 2010-2015 and its indicative budget;
- AICHR Priority Programmes/Activities with its respective annual budget;
- Guidelines on the Operations of the AICHR (also known as the Guidelines of the AICHR);
- Rules of Procedure of the AICHR Fund (also known as the ROP of the AICHR Fund);
- Guidelines on the Budget Standardisation; and
- Guidelines on the AICHR Website’s Editorial Board
Mandates and Functions of AICHR
The TOR of AICHR lists out fourteen (14) mandates of the AICHR. These include;
- To develop strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms to complement the building of the ASEAN Community;
- To develop an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration with a view to establishing a framework for human rights cooperation through various ASEAN conventions and other instruments dealing with human rights;
- To enhance public awareness of human rights among the peoples of ASEAN through education, research and dissemination of information;
- To promote capacity building for the effective implementation of international human rights treaty obligations undertaken by ASEAN Member States;
- To encourage ASEAN Member States to consider acceding to and ratifying international human rights instruments;
- To promote the full implementation of ASEAN instruments related to human rights;
- To provide advisory services and technical assistance on human rights matters to ASEAN sectoral bodies upon request;
- To engage in dialogue and consultation with other ASEAN bodies and entities associated with ASEAN, including civil society organisations and other stakeholders, as provided for in Chapter V of the ASEAN Charter;
- To consult, as may be appropriate, with other national, regional and international institutions and entities concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights;
- To obtain information from ASEAN Member States on the promotion and protection of human rights;
- To develop common approaches and positions on human rights matters of interest to ASEAN;
- To prepare studies on thematic issues of human rights in ASEAN;
- To submit an annual report on its activities, or other reports if deemed necessary, to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting; and
- To perform any other tasks as may be assigned to it by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting.