1 March 2021 The Human Rights Resource Centre, with the generous support of Universitas Indonesia, published its latest publication, “Human Rights in ASEAN: Indonesian and International Perspectives.” The book, composed as a manifestation of the Centre and Universitas Indonesia’s commitment to increase the academic discourse on ASEAN and Human Rights, was published by World Scientific, a leading academic and professional publisher in the Asia and Pacific Region. “Human Rights in ASEAN: Indonesian and International Perspectives” is a collection of 13 essays that offers different insights on the institutional, legal, social, and cultural human rights dynamics in the region, with Indonesia as the primary country case study. The essays are written by eminent statesmen, diplomats, development practitioners, and academics who are experts in their respective fields. They are curated to cover the issues pertinent to the Centre’s areas of concern, especially rule of law and vulnerable groups. Some of the contributors capture human rights issues of immediate concern in Indonesia, which other ASEAN contexts may draw lessons and comparisons from, such as child marriage, democracy and Islam, and participation of women in communal decision-making. A reflection from Singapore in the area of human rights and peace education can also be found in the book, providing a starting point to contemplate on how shifting ideas on these matters may be achieved. It also offers external and internal perspectives of ASEAN human rights dynamics since the ASEAN Charter was signed in 2007, a binding treaty that envisages the establishment of a regional community that adheres to “the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. The following are the list of chapters in this volume: Bridging the Internal-External Nexus: ASEAN’s Human Rights Development (RM Marty M Natalegawa) Personal Reflections on the Formation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (Bilahari Kausikan) An Overview of Human Rights Developments in ASEAN (Param Cumaraswamy) Civil Society and ASEAN: Of the People, By the People, For the People (Braema Mathi) ASEAN Treaty Practice: Trends in the Post-Charter Era (Ranyta Yusran) One Vision, Three Communities? Reflections on Human Rights in ASEAN’s Community Blueprints (Michelle Staggs Kelsall) International Human Rights in the Constitutional Orders of the ASEAN States: A Preliminary Survey (Kevin YL Tan) Human Rights and Democracy and the Response of Indonesian Islam (Syafiq Hasyim) Women, Customary Law, and Rights to Participate in Decision-Making Process: Stores from the Customary Council in Rote and Labuan Bajo (Lidwina Inge Nurtjahyo) Imagined Justice in Practice: The Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia (Daniel Mattes) Statelessness in ASEAN: Causes and Responses to a Protracted Problem (Rodziana Mohamed Razali and Christoph Sperfeldt) Child Marriage in the Eyes of Indonesian Police Officers: A Socio-Legal Perspective (Sulistyowati Irianto and Harkristuti Harkrisnowo) Human Rights and Peace Education in Singapore (Tamara Nair) The Centre believes that the publication of this book is timely to contribute to the human rights discourse in the region as we pass the halfway point of ASEAN Vision 2025: Forging Ahead Together. It will especially be useful for students and academics with interest in, among others, law and human rights, international law studies, and international relations especially in the context of ASEAN. The book can be purchased from the World Scientific website, and the Centre has also distributed copies to its partner and affiliated universities’ libraries in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, and Vietnam as well as regional academics and experts in order to increase this volume’s accessibility.
Jakarta, 26-27 October 2019. The Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC) hosted the Summer Institute 2019: “The State of Rules-based Development” on 26-27 October 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The key objective of this Workshop is to increase awareness of the rules-based development in the building of the ASEAN Community, and how far ASEAN has transformed itself into the rules-based regional organisation as envisaged by the ASEAN Charter and “ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together” which laid out the current blueprints for the three pillars of the ASEAN Community. The Summer Institute 2019 began with Welcome Remarks by Professor Harkristuti Harkrisnowo (Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Indonesia; and Acting Executive Director, HRRC), and Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, (Former Secretary-General, ASEAN; and Chairperson, HRRC Governing Board). In the first session, Professor David Cohen (Director, WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University) highlighted that ensuring compliance with the rule of law in ASEAN runs counter to the ASEAN Way, particularly the informal way of decisionmaking in ASEAN, and the non-interference principle. Dr. Dian Rositawati (Indonesia Programs Director, WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University) provided an overview of the legal environment in Indonesia – pointing out how the Indonesian judiciary has transitioned from one with no checks and balances before 1998, to one that is more committed to democratic rule of law and is more transparent. Dr Rositawati also suggested how the judiciaries of ASEAN Member States (AMS) could potentially work with other partners like civil society organisations and universities to undertake reforms. In the second discussion session, Dr. Tan Hsien-Li (Co-Director of Teaching, ASEAN Law and Policy Programme, Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore) spoke on how the ASEAN rulesbased regime has developed over ASEAN’s history, and discussed the reasons that ASEAN has a less than stellar record when it comes to compliance with ASEAN-set rules. Professor Kevin Tan (Adjunct Professor, RSIS; and Member of HRRC Governing Board) underscored that a rules-based order necessarily subjugates national sovereignty over these rules, which has caused tensions between AMS’ own individual national interests, and the push for a rules-based regime in ASEAN. At the end of the day, there was a Special Session by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot (Former Representative of Thailand to the AICHR) who gave a comprehensive talk on the state of human rights in ASEAN. He also highlighted the challenges that AICHR faces: it is only a consultative body, and not designed to be independent as each AICHR representative is accountable to his/her appointing government, even if he/she is supposed to “act impartially”. Again, the tensions between the need for human rights and the ASEAN concepts of consensus and non-interference were highlighted. During the question and answer segments, the problem of coordination among AMS to promote a rules-based ASEAN was discussed. The role of Indonesia was highlighted as being important in this regard, and the concept of non-interference was debated, though it was pointed out that AMS have gradually allowed certain types of intervention by other AMS within their own borders. At the same time, due to the focus on informality and the reluctance to pursue legal routes in implementing rules, AMS have at times implemented certain measures in a time-consuming way. The diversity of cultures and political systems in ASEAN necessitates a give-and-take approach. On the second day, an open forum format was adopted for a wide-ranging discussion session with Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Dr. Kavi Chongkittavorn (Senior Fellow at the Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University; and Member of HRRC Governing Board), and Ms. Elaine Tan (Executive Director, ASEAN Foundation). The importance of ASEAN centrality and a people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN was underscored. It was also pointed out that rapport among policymakers in the AMS had been crucial in achieving concrete results for building the ASEAN Community. The challenge is differing national conditions and priorities. The encompassing ASEAN identity is not yet grasped by a majority of citizens in the AMS. They do not know ASEAN well and cannot accept national interests being subsumed by ASEAN rules and objectives. This underscored the need for greater media and public education efforts to raise awareness of the ASEAN Community among the peoples of the AMS.
Manila, 15-17 October 2018. The Southeast Asian Human Rights Studies Network (SEAHRN) held its fifth international conference on human rights and peace and conflict last week, with the theme “Making it Matter: Empowering Societies for Human Rights and Dignity in Southeast Asia”. Co-organized also by Human Rights Center of Ateneo de Manila University, the Department of International Studies of the Miriam College, the Law Center of the Institute of Human Rights of the University of the Philippines, the SHAPE-SEA Programme, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the event gathered academics on the field of human rights in the region, resulting in a rich, three-day-discussion on the state of human rights in the region. Various issues were covered by the speakers, from the review of the existing human rights mechanism in ASEAN, the resolution of past human rights violations, conflict transformation, civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural rights in the region, all with the background of the global realities that are witnessing the dawn of post-truth era and rise of authoritarianism. The conference was opened by Keynote Speaker International Criminal Court Judge Raul C. Pangalangan, who centered his speech on the issue of activism through law. He advocated for those who seeks to transform through law not to stray from the legal path. He cautioned against violating legal principles and procedures to secure a certain change, for such method opens the door for others to use the same method to undermine human rights and rule of law. The Human Rights Resource Centre’s attendance in the conference was facilitated by the Minority Networks, a network based in Norway that facilitates dialogue between academic scholars, NGO experts and decision-makers at the national and international level on what a human rights based minority protection implies and how it may be implemented and secured in conflict-ridden societies. Ms. Aviva Nababan of the HRRC assisted as a moderator in the session sponsored by the Network, which discussed the topic of “Inclusive Citizenship or Majoritarian Nationalism: Current Challenges and Good Practices in Myanmar and Its Neighbor States”. Mr. Nbyen Dan Hkung Awng, the Director of Kachinland School of Arts and Science in his presentation highlighted the need for taking into account minority identities in building a cohesive, united society in a highly diverse context such as can be found in Myanmar. Pointing to his organization’s strategy to build inclusive education, he underlines the need for an educational system that does not further policies of denying minorities’ cultural identities but rather nurture cultural exchange between different cultures as ignorance furthers hatred and violence. Discussing securitization of Islam in Myanmar, Mr. Nickey Diamond of Fortify Rights addressed the situation of Rohingya Muslims, discussing the security approach being employed on the situation. Analyzing security discourses in media outlets, official documents as well as promotional materials, he underlined how treating Islam as a security issue potentially aggravates the situation and may perpetuate more violence against Rohingya and other Muslim population in the country. Ms. Phyu Zin Aye, a doctoral candidate at Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University, focused her presentation on applying gender analysis on the right to a nationality in Myanmar. Ms. Aye firstly underlined that the right to citizenship in the country is problematic for both men and women, especially due to the existing different types of citizenship and challenges for those of minority religions and ethnicities in attaining their citizenship documents. Focusing on whether women are able to acquire citizenship equally with men and retain or confer their citizenship after marriage as well as confer citizenship to their children in Myanmar, she found that women experienced additional layers of challenges compared to their male counterparts. She pointed to the 2015 Buddhist Women Special Law and Population Control and Health Care Law that apply marriage and procreation to specific populations, as well as the existing gender norms that impact women’s access to information, mobility, and independence in deciding and retaining their citizenship status from their spouses. During the session, as a comparison from another country in the region, Dr. Deasy Simandjuntak of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, National University of Singapore gave a presentation on citizenship, religious activism, and identity politics in the context of Indonesia’s electoral democracy. She underlined the nexus between citizenship and religious activism in Indonesia and the tug of war between the more moderate and conservative groups in the country’s political discourse. With the rise of identity politics, Dr. Simandjuntak highlighted the dilemma faced by Indonesia as well as many other countries in the world, namely how to balance the need to curb hardline groups and to preserve civil society and democracy, which necessarily require freedom of expression. The context of democratization and human rights emerged in the ensuing discussion after the presentation, as well as the need to resolve past and ongoing egregious human rights violations in order to avoid repeating the same patterns of oppressions. In the conclusion of the session Ms. Nababan emphasized that democracy alone, especially the procedural kind, will not automatically grant equal rights for all citizens. In fact it can be a vehicle to strengthen the tyranny of majority. Only with strong human rights regime a genuine democracy can be established, one that keeps in check majoritarian tendencies and protect the rights of minorities. The Conference was closed by a keynote speech by Ms. Kemala Chandrakirana, a feminist human rights activist from Indonesia who cofounded Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women and led the Commission from 1998-2009 and served as a member of the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice. In her speech Ms. Chandrakirana referred to the legacy of violence and abuse of power all countries in Southeast Asia has to grapple with and calls for all to realize transformative justice. Such justice, she asserted, would require cultural advocacy, securing acceptance to the principle of universality of human rights inter alia by engaging with various communities, including religious. She also called the academics […]
Chiang Rai, 13 – 15 October 2018 On 13-15 October 2018 AICHR held CSO Symposium 2018. The forum, aimed at furthering communication and coordination between the Commission and its counterpart ASEAN bodies and other relevant organizations, was attended by the AICHR Representatives as well as delegates from 20 civil society organizations with consultative relationship with the AICHR (accredited CSOs), including the Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC). Additionally, representatives of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC),Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD). National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from ASEAN member states, and some UN agencies (UNDP and UNESCAP) were also in attendance. H.E. Amb. Barry Desker, AICHR Representative of Singapore and current Chair of the Commission in his welcome remarks underlined the significance of the forum as part of AICHR’s larger efforts to engage more actively with CSOs in its programs and activities, including seeking CSOs as resource persons for its events. He reminded all in attendance that the symposium was expected to further vigorous discussions between the commission and the organizations represented by the participants. The discussions ensued were lively, focusing on the rights of women and children and people with disabilities in the region. Additionally, it covered other urgent human rights issues including trafficking in persons, business and human rights, and environmental protection. On the second day, AICHR Thailand organized site visits to showcase civil society efforts in integrating development, human rights, and environmental sustainability to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the visit to Ban Pha Mee Efficiency-Tourism, Choui Fong Tea Plantation and Singha Park, Wat Rong Khun, the participants learned how the principles of human rights and environmental preservation are applied in tourism and agricultural commercial ventures. The symposium was closed on the third day. As the host, H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR, encouraged all to take note of the progress in human rights discourse in ASEAN. He raised as an example the issues of human rights defenders and torture, which had been considered as taboo topics in previous years. However, he conceded that there remained to be areas that could bear more improvement for AICHR, such as the rights of convicts and freedom of religion. He also pointed to the Symposium as a sign of progress, noting that it had taken three to four years to secure the necessary arrangements and agreements for AICHR to reach such level of engagement with CSOs. H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot also thanked the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway for its support in the organization of the event.
Jakarta, 29 March 2018 – The Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC) and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University (WSD Handa Center) successfully launched the results of the study “Understanding the Landscape of Human Trafficking Data Collection in ASEAN and Promoting Government- and Civil Society-Led Promising Practices” on 29 March 2018 at the Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia. Prof. Dr. David Cohen, Director of WSD Handa Center, opened the launch and welcomed the distinguished guests composed of representatives from the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC), the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Secretariat, the diplomatic community, government ministries, and civil society organisations involved in anti-trafficking in persons efforts in the region. Delivering the keynote address, Dir. Leocadio Trovela SOMTC Philippines representative, as the lead shepherd in the area of trafficking in persons, apprised the participants of the ongoing efforts and workplan of the SOMTC on the matter of trafficking in persons and stressed the urgent need for stronger multi-sectoral collaboration and cooperation to combat this menace. He recognized the importance of data collection and the role of civil society in the fight against trafficking, and expressed gratefulness for the conduct of the study, which he believed “would lead in a robust policy discourse on key issues and challenges facing the ASEAN Community, particularly in the area of trafficking.” Ms. Jessie Brunner, Lead Researcher and Program Manager of WSD Handa Center, in presenting the highlights of the findings of the nine-month study, stressed the importance of good data to the anti-trafficking movement and the need to understand existing data systems across the region, particularly in light of the recently ratification of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) with provisions relevant to data collection, including the development of a regional database for trafficking in persons. Through interviews with 75 civil society and government agencies in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, the lead researcher was able to identify challenges commonly faced regarding data collection as well as promising practices in these countries. She observed that the benefits of digital data are not being fully utilized, there is lack of infrastructure and technical support for data security, database is viewed as an outcome and not as resources, and task forces have not realized their full potential as data hubs. She nevertheless found promising practices from the four ASEAN Member States: the victim identification standards being implemented in Cambodia, the one data policy initiative in Indonesia, the anti-trafficking in persons legislation in the Philippines that clearly stipulates the relevant rules on the issue, and the unified database in Thailand that allows the inputting of data by different government entities into a single system. These findings are encapsulated in a policy report and in the guidelines “Getting to Good Human Trafficking Data: Everyday Guidelines for Frontline Practitioners in Southeast Asia”. The presentation was followed by insightful commentaries from an esteemed panel of leaders in human rights and anti-trafficking efforts in the region: H.E. Ms. Yuyum Fhahni Paryani, Indonesia’s Representative on Children’s Rights to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, H.E. Dr. Dinna Wisnu, Indonesia’s Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, Police Comm. Rz. Panca Putra, SOMTC Indonesia Representative, Police Major Gen. Reaksmey Sok, SOMTC Cambodia Representative, and Ms. Susan Ward, Chief of Party of the Asia Counter Trafficking in Persons Program of Winrock International. The panel commentaries were complemented by astute comments and questions from participants in an open forum and the event was capped with spirited closing messages from Ms. Theresa O’Mahony-Heer, Political Counsellor of the British Embassy Jakarta, and Prof. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, Executive Director of HRRC. The study is made possible with the generous support of the British Embassy Jakarta and contribution from the East-West Center.
Bali, 29-30 January 2018 – The Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC) hosted the 2017 Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (Summer Institute) with the theme “Trade, Investment, and Rule of Law in ASEAN” on 29 and 30 January 2018, in Conrad Hotel, Bali, Indonesia. H.E. Ambassador, Ong Keng Yong, Chairperson of HRRC’s Board, and Prof. David Cohen, Director of WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University and HRRC Advisor, welcomed the participants to the Summer Institute, composed of esteemed representatives from the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM), ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW), business sector, government ministries, civil society, and academia. Prof. David Cohen explained the focus on the rule of law and its relationship to trade and investment is made as “the rule of law is the foundation for everything: it is basis on which we build, it is the basis for good governance, it is the foundation for the promotion of cross-border trade and investment, and that means it is the foundation for the for the prosperity of the peoples of ASEAN as promised in the ASEAN Charter for a people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN. And of course, it follows that without the rule of law, human rights will be an empty promise rather than something that can be fulfilled.” Mrs. H.E. Dr. Yvonne Baumann, Ambassador of Switzerland to Indonesia and ASEAN, delivered the keynote address, expressing the crucial need for enhanced cooperation between government and private sectors to build a competitive but sustainable business environment that respects rule of law and human rights. She exhorted the different sectors to work together towards common goals to ensure that economic development is broad-based, sustainable, and inclusive. Delivering a message on behalf of the SEOM, H.E. Ms. Sulaimah Mahmood, SEOM Chairperson for 2018, addressed participants on the work and progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), stating that ASEAN has come a long way since its inception in 1967 and there is great potential for continued economic growth in the region. While challenges to the AEC remain, ASEAN Member States continue to strive to hurdle these together. She emphasised that Singapore’s focus as Chair this year is to build on the good works accomplished in the previous years, and ensure that ASEAN remains relevant with increased connectivity in the region. The first day of the panels featured discussion on opportunities and challenges for responsible business in advancing the rule of law, how the business sector can be partners for a more resilient and inclusive economic growth in ASEAN, and good governance and human rights in the emerging digital economy in ASEAN. The second day sessions, meanwhile, tackled the rights dimensions in trade and investment and the need of the different sectors to for greater inclusivity and resilience as the ASEAN strives to realize its 2025 vision of a rules-based, people-oriented and people-centered community. The conference culminated in a plenary session, facilitated by Amb. Ong Keng Yong and Dr. Tim Buerher Chief of Party of US-ACTI, where participants actively engaged in a constructive exchange of insights on the challenges and the ways to move forward towards the promotion of rule of law and human rights in businesses in the region. The Summer Institute is hosted by HRRC in partnership with the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at the Stanford University, Udayana University, and the East-West Center. This event is made possible through the generous support of the ASEAN Connectivity on Trade and Investment (US-ACTI), ASEAN – U.S. PROGRESS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, and the Embassy of Switzerland in Jakarta.