10 February 2017 | Boracay, Philippines

ASEAN acknowledges that human rights issues among its Member States need to be prioritized and addressed, which is why one of its focuses is on promoting and protecting the rights of the vulnerable groups and improving their access to social services.

There will be important meetings on human rights, including the 23rd Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to be held in Boracay from February 13 to 15.

ASEAN 2017 centers on a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN that is especially concerned with the rights of its citizens, especially women, children, migrant workers, and persons with disabilities, among others.

The Duterte administration supports these focus points because it is in line with its endeavor to be a government for the people. The President’s commitment from cutting down red tape in the government, fighting illegal drugs, and bringing opportunities to Filipino farmers depict an administration that is people-oriented and people-centered.

ASEAN puts a premium on human rights, as evidenced in 2009, when the ASEAN founded the AICHR as a means to promote human rights among the 10 member states. This brought to fruition Article 14 of the ASEAN Charter, which called for the establishment of an ASEAN human rights body.

AICHR was instrumental in the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in 2012. In addition, AICHR has either undertaken or is planning to implement projects on women, children, corporate social responsibility, peace, migration, access to justice, youth debate, trafficking in persons, Millennium Development Goals, environment and climate change, development of ASEAN legal instrument on human rights, and persons with disabilities.

AICHR also interacts regularly with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (a yearly Interface is held), other ASEAN sectoral bodies, and external partners.

For 2017, AICHR Philippines will undertake two projects: a Thematic Study on Women Affected by Natural Disasters and a 2nd Workshop on Developing an ASEAN Legal Human Rights Instrument.

For ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary this year, AICHR will undertake the following commemorative activities: Launch of the Regional Action Plan on Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community; AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights; and 50th Anniversary Edition of the AICHR Booklet and Video.

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