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Regional human rights mechanisms

Graphic: Group of people in the Philippines

Unlike Europe, Africa and the Americas, the Asia-Pacific does not have a region-wide inter-governmental system – such as treaties, courts, commissions or other institutions – to protect and promote human rights.

However, steps have been taken at a sub-regional level to strengthen human rights.

In South-East Asia, the 10-member ASEAN group officially inaugurated the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights in 2009.

In addition, Pacific Island nations are actively exploring strategies to develop human rights bodies that best meet their specific needs and circumstances.

The APF, its member institutions and other partner organisations seek to support and engage with the various human rights protection systems in place across the region.

Regional cooperation of NHRIs

APF members also cooperate closely on human rights issues of common concern.

One current area of joint action is the protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and migrant workers, as set out in the Seoul Guidelines (2008).

In June 2007, the national human rights commissions of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines signed a Declaration of Cooperation, which committed them to work together on five areas of shared concern.

The four institutions - jointly known as the ASEAN NHRI Forum - have developed a common policy on engaging with ASEAN's human rights body and they also continue to encourage other ASEAN governments to establish national human rights institutions.

In 2010, the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice of Timor Leste was invited to join the ASEAN NHRI Forum.

Image credits

  1. Group of people in the Philippines - APF/Pip Dargan