National Human Rights Institutions in Southeast Asian States: The Necessary Foundation for an Efficient ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
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Twenty years ago, the Tehran Framework, adopted during the yearly Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regional workshop for Asia-Pacific laid out four pillars, of which one suggested the idea that National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are the most solid foundation at the national level to build an efficient regional human rights mechanism (Baik, Tae-Ung. 2012. Emerging Regional Human Rights Systems in Asia. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 194).
In the absence of a strong regional mechanism, the NHRIs have an important role to play for the promotion and the protection of human rights in the Southeast Asian (SEA) states, in the event where those NHRIs are in conformity with the 1993 Paris Principles. Those principles include independence both in their funding and in their operations, with the possibility of conducting enquiries based on individual communications. According to the Global Alliance on NHRIs (GANHRI), which is mandated by the UN to grade and give accreditation to NHRIs, most of the SEA NHRIs do not enforce those principles at an efficient level, or not at all.
Given the lack of independence of the SEA NHRIs and the inefficiency of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), there has been little literature on the complementarity of the NHRIs and the AICHR in their roles, both at the national and at the regional level. Indeed, we strongly believe that such complementary is a luckily possibility if the NHRIs and the AICHR take their cooperation to the next level.
Our chapter will explore (1) how, within their own mandates, the existing SEA NHRIs and the AICHR can work together to advance the promotion and protection of Human Rights in the region; (2) how laws that would establish NHRIs in the remaining countries could be adopted in order to respect the Paris Principles while being strong foundations to the AICHR; and (3) how best practices from NHRIs evolving in a different regional environment (Inter-American Court of Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), African Commission on Human Rights (AfHRC)) can influence the AICHR to strengthen the relationships between SEA NHRIs.
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