Asia Centre invites the submission of abstracts on the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in Southeast Asia in protecting human rights. We welcome submissions from specialists in this field, including by former and current practitioners in the region’s NHRIs.
Background and rationale:
In 2008, the ASEAN’s first-ever Charter came into force. After years of discussion coupled with
external pressure, the ASEAN leaders ultimately consent to include an article on human rights that eventually lead to the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR) in 2010. Two years later in 2012, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was adopted. These regional human rights developments were significant for an association that is rooted in the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of neighbouring states. Nevertheless, the capacity of the regional human rights mechanism to protect human rights is a major question mark that awaits an answer.
A vital complement to this regional system is the group of NHRIs that lie at the intersection of civil society (national, regional and international) and the state. Six NHRIs have been established in the region, some pre-dating the regional mechanism. They are the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines (CRP), Indonesia National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) and the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice of Timor Leste (PDHJ). The latter is a special case. As of now, Timor Leste has yet to be admitted as a full member of ASEAN.
In addition, in order to face the regional developments and challenges, these NHRIs, while seeking to improve their national capacities, have also evolved and formalised their network and named it as the Southeast Asia NHRI Forum (SEANF) in 2009. The formalisation of SEANF is considered a commitment of the Southeast Asia NHRIs in further strengthening and enhancing their roles in protecting human rights in the region.
Internationally, they are also members in the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) and are part of the Global Alliance of the National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), formerly known as the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC). They also contribute stakeholder submissions to the UPR process of the Human Rights Council.
The question arises, however, as to whether these government-sponsored NHRIs are effective in providing protection of human rights in the region. Preliminary analysis has questioned their effectiveness in providing protection.
The unique position of the NHRIs between the government and civil society provide opportunities and at the same time dilemmas in protecting human rights in the region. Their capacity to investigate human rights violations, to conduct national inquiries or public hearings and to secure remedies for human rights victims are often questioned.
This conference aims to serve as a platform for representatives from NHRIs, academics, researchers, students and civil society interested in the topic to explore, through evidence based research, the potentials, challenges and opportunities of these Southeast Asian NHRIs and their contribution to human rights protection in the region. It seeks to explore their protection roles at the national, regional and international levels.
This conference aims to achieve the following objectives:
Submit an abstract in English, of 300 to 350 words, together with a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. Full papers should be 5000 words.
Limited space is available for 4 to 5 poster presentations. Your presentation may be submitted in word / pdf format to the Asia Centre for consideration. A 60×80 cm poster will be printed and displayed during the conference.
We welcome presentations and participation via Skype. Full conference fees apply.
Day Rate (For participants interested in attending a single day of the conference)
This is a self-funded conference, conference fees will go towards covering the cost of the venue, equipment and logistics, coffee breaks on all days, certificates for participants, and conference communications.
Applicants are reminded that the Centre is not in a position to provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships, subsidies, discounts, fee-waivers or reimbursements.
Day 1 (13 July 2017): 9am to 5pm
Day 2 (14 July 2017): 9am to 5pm
The conference will be structured in accordance with the four themes above.
It will be open to participation by civil society organisations, civil society groups, international organisations, government officials and the academic community to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking opportunities.
Host: Asia Centre, Bangkok, Thailand.