The Southeast Asian Women’s Caucus on ASEAN formally submitted its inputs on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) on 21 October 2011 to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). The AHRD is set to become the region’s first human rights declaration, which is also expected to be expanded into a convention.
The Women’s Caucus emphasized human rights such as those on non-discrimination, substantive equality, freedom from violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, marriage, decent work, freedom of movement, food sovereignty and climate justice.
The submission is the result of a series of national and regional consultations across the region in the last several months since AICHR formed a Drafting Team for the AHRD. “Our submission reflects the issues, concerns and aspirations of women in Southeast Asia who typically confront discriminatory laws and practices, violence, political marginalisation, economic disempowerment and discrimination and violence in the context of the perils of migration,” explains Rena Herdiyani of the Indonesian women’s group Kalyanamitra.
“The AHRD must not go below the standards of existing international human rights instruments. Culture must not be barrier for ASEAN to follow CEDAW especially when culture results in discrimination and violence against women and girls,” asserts Le Thi Quy of Hanoi University’s Center for Gender and Development.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are the only legally binding international human rights instruments which are ratified by all 10 ASEAN member states.
“There can’t be regression and negotiation of the recognised norms and principles of human rights that are underpinned by legal treaty obligations. However the AICHR may develop its own practices and approaches best suited to the ASEAN context,” Thida Khus of Cambodia’s women’s organization Silaka says.
“As it makes a human rights declaration on our behalf, AICHR should further open its doors for dialogue and consultation with civil society organisations, Hoy Sochivanny of Positive Change for Cambodia points out. The development of the AHRD is overseen by AICHR. The Drafting Team is expected to submit a draft to AICHR in December 2011 The declaration will be finalised in December 2012. The full text of the Women’s Caucus submission is available here.