asean Human Rights Regime and Mainstreaming the Responsibility to Protect: Challenges and Prospects

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Sriprapha Petcharamesree Mahidol University,

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This article explores the challenges and prospects of mainstreaming RtoP in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean) through the analysis of the roles and performance of the asean human rights bodies, in particular the asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (aichr). The author argues that although asean has made some progress in institutionalizing the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, it will take more time for asean to mark substantial shift in intra-asean relations and suggests that, in Southeast Asia where sovereignty is still jealously guarded, norms and ideas such as RtoP cannot yet have a decisive impact in practice. Specifically, mainstreaming RtoP in asean is constrained by the principles of non-interference and consensus decision-making, which unfortunately remains the norm. In order for asean to effectively care for people, a paradigm shift is necessary. Such shift can be anchored in the asean Human Rights Declaration (ahdr) as well as employing the ‘asean minus X’ decision-making formula, activating the Troika, and dispatching of special envoys. These options, which are not new to asean and have historically helped in its engagement with human rights, could also enable asean to prevent and respond to systematic human rights violations and other issues which may amount to war crimes. As well, promoting national and regional dialogues on RtoP could influence asean member states, especially those who are not yet comfortable with the principle. Different workshops and seminars that the aichr has been organizing already provide the body opportunities for sharing and learning from other regions.

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