Asean human rights body to be launched in October

Former ambassador Rosario Manalo, member of high level panel drafting the terms of reference for the Asean human rights body, says Asean's policy of non-intervention remains.
The high level panel drafting the terms of reference for the Asean human rights body has finished the principles to be observed, the purpose of the body as well as its mandate, but has yet to give the human rights body a name, says former Ambassador Rosario Manalo, Philippine representative to panel.

The human rights body will be intergovernmental in character and will be an integral part of the Asean structure, operating within the hierarchy of the Asean setup under the Asean charter, Manalo said in a press briefing Friday at the foreign affairs department.

It will be made up of representatives from each member state, to be chosen by the member state. Appointment to the body will be at the discretion of each member state and may be changed anytime.

Manalo says they expect a political declaration to come out in October, during the Asean heads of state summit, to launch the human rights body.

The human rights body does not have the power to investigate specific cases, Manalo says. “We have not come to that as yet but if you will judge the effectiveness of the human rights body in due course of time the investigate component will have to come in.”

“I don’t think the member states are ready for that. Some are but not all.”

In October, when the human rights body is launched, its strongest power would be the promotion of human rights. “It will involve access to information, education, training, all of these instruments
that provide capacity. And understanding what human rights means,” Manalo says.

Promotion of human rights, she says, actually envisions reengineering of society, because it involves a “total review in society” of what practices…are discriminatory.

The Asean principle of non-intervention was carried over from the Asean charter to the terms of reference that the high level panel is now drafting, Manalo says. “We cannot intervene but as partners in Asean we can dialogue…and influence.”

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