Doomed from the start – the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (LoyarBurok)

This article was published in Loyarburok.

Doomed from the start

Doomed from the start – the AHRD | Badly drawn by Yu Ren Chung. Original picture from http://jvsc.jst.go.jp/find/sports_e/s02_sld/d2_mech/m40_tx.htm

Last week, Prime Minister Najib Razak and other ASEAN leaders signed a document called the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, or more fondly, the “AHRD”. In the ensuing days, much was said about the AHRD. ASEAN and governments praised it, the United Nations expressed caution, and civil society condemned it.

Many are disappointed with the Declaration, as am I. But honestly, were our expectations that high to begin with?

The AHRD was doomed from the start – doomed by poor and varied human rights standards among ASEAN countries coupled with a consensus style decision-making process, ASEAN’s compulsive focus on sovereignty and non-interference, a non-independent human rights commission, and a secretive and non-inclusive drafting process. Continue reading