As Leaders Gather for ASEAN Summit, Human Rights Resource Centre Reflects on the Importance of Rule of Law for Integration

Phnom Penh, 8 October 2013 – On the 8th and the 9th of October 2013, the Human Rights Resource Centre (for ASEAN) will be hosting twin events on the theme “The Rule of Law in ASEAN: Prospects and Challenges for the Business Community in Cambodia for 2015 and Beyond.”

A conference, to be held in the morning of the 8th of October, will be attended by government and NGO officials, as well as representatives of business associations. H.E. Dato Param Cumaraswamy, Advocate and Former Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, is anticipated to give the Keynote Address. A screening of the short film, “Cambodia: Business and Rule of Law,” will be held in the afternoon of the 9th of October. This particular event, while open to government officials and representatives of corporations, is expected to mostly attract NGOs and other members of civil society. Both events will be held at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh.

The leaders of ASEAN have agreed to establish an ASEAN Community by 2015. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) envisages the following key characteristics:

  • a single market and production base,
  • a highly competitive economic region,
  • a region of equitable economic development, and
  • a region fully integrated into the global economy.

In summary, the AEC aims to shape ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital. However, there has been too few public discussion about rule of law and the business actors in ASEAN, which subsequently makes the ASEAN integration reverberate only in passing.

These events, made possible by the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aim to foster greater awareness of the preparatory steps Cambodia is taking to develop a strong environment for business as ASEAN moves towards economic and political integration.

The video-documentary that will be shown is a follow-on project to the Baseline Study on Rule of Law in ASEAN, completed by HRRC in 2011. The study showed that comprehension of the rule of law framework is crucial as ASEAN political-security, socio-cultural, and economic integration nears.

The video compiles footages and opinions to visualise the rule of law landscape in Cambodia as ASEAN moves towards integration. It mainly comprises of a series of interviews with Government spokesperson, H.E. Phay Siphan, and independent researcher, Mr. Kem Ley. Interviews are also conducted with a number of legal experts, including Mr. Sok Sam Oeun (Executive Director, Cambodia Defender’s Project) and Mr. Lao Mong Hay, independent researcher.

Similar events, focusing on business and rule of law in Indonesia within the context of the approaching establishment of the ASEAN Community, will also be held in Jakarta later this month.