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The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is the core human rights mechanism within ASEAN. Although it is mandated to oversee the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the body itself was written into the ASEAN Charter. The significance of this inclusion means that the AICHR has the ability to interact with all bodies within the AICHR, as opposed to being restricted by a treaty-based, thematic mandate. However, this also means commissioners lack independence as they are appointed to the AICHR as political representatives of their respective member states.

The AICHR consists of one representative from each ASEAN member state. Appointed by their respective governments, the AICHR commissioners serve a three-year term that is once renewable. The AICHR meets twice a year, with the possibility of special sessions.

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights is responsible for (AICHR Terms of Reference):

  • Developing strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms to complement the building of the ASEAN Community
  • Developing an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration with a view to establishing a framework for human rights cooperation through various ASEAN conventions and other instruments dealing with human rights
  • Enhancing public awareness of human rights among the peoples of ASEAN through education, research and the dissemination of information
  • Promoting capacity building for the effective implementation of international human rights treaty obligations undertaken by ASEAN member states
  • Encouraging ASEAN member states to consider acceding to and ratifying international human rights instruments
  • Promoting the full implementation of ASEAN instruments related to human rights
  • Providing advisory services and technical assistance on human rights matters to ASEAN sectoral bodies on request
  • Engaging in dialogue and consultation with other ASEAN bodies and entities associated with ASEAN, including CSOs and other stakeholders, as provided for in Chapter V of the ASEAN Charter
  • Consulting, as may be appropriate, with other national, regional and international institutions and entities concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights

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How does it help tackle violence against women?

As ASEAN’s core human rights mechanism, the AICHR is the principle body for ensuring the rights of all individuals within the ASEAN region. It is the ASEAN body responsible for drafting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and helps member states meet their human rights obligations. Given that violence against women is the cause and result of human rights violations and inequality, eradicating gender-based violence has become a part of the AICHR’s work. To fulfil its mandate, the AICHR regularly seeks consultation from organisations at all levels – from civil society to UN Women.

In the past, the AICHR has organised joint consultative meetings with the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) to foster greater cooperation in the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN. In an effort to strengthen cooperation, the AICHR and ACWC have discussed the development of joint programmes, projects and activities to promote both Declarations within member states. Four primary areas of cooperation have been identified by the two Commissions: trafficking in persons, especially women and children, disability, education and gender, peace and security.

iconStarCivil Society Engagement: Consultative Relationships and Informal Complaints

Consultative Relationships

CSOs wishing to engage with the AICHR’s work may consider applying for a consultative relationship. To do so, CSOs fill out an application form that can be found on the AICHR’s website (see link below) and submit their completed applications directly to the AICHR. If approved, CSOs will be invited to fulfil consultative roles to the AICHR and assist it in fulfilling its objects and purposes. Some examples of participation include:

  1. Consultation – meeting to seek views and advice on something that is being decided. The consulted parties should be given adequate information and study the matter to be discussed prior to the meeting. While the response from consulted parties should be noted, it does not necessarily imply any commitment for the consulting parties to do anything about the response
  2. Seminar – meeting to provide information on one of more subject matter, primarily via lecture and discussion
  3. Workshop – a meeting of a group of people, to engage in intensive discussion and activity focuses especially on methods, techniques and skills in a particular field
  4. Regular reporting/briefing to the AICHR on its activities, which may include policy recommendations and feedback on various initiatives undertaken at national and regional levels in line with the AICHR’s Work Plans
  5. Implementation of specific studies – upon request of the AICHR, any organisation with consultative relationship may carry out specific studies or prepare specific papers, subject to the relevant financial regulations
  6. Project implementer of the AICHR Work Plans

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Informal Complaints

The AICHR does not have the power to formally accept complaints from individuals or groups, however there have been cases where CSOs have submitted informal complaints to the AICHR requesting it respond to human rights violations in the region. Although these informal complaints were initially resisted by the AICHR, it eventually relented and allowed submissions (communications and complaints) to be communicated through the ASEAN Secretariat.

Submission can be via email, the online query form on AICHR’s website, or in person at the Secretariat in Jakarta to the ASEAN Secretariat. The Secretariat will take note of the complaint and pass it on to the AICHR Chair. The Chair is then responsible for circulating the complaint amongst the other AICHR Representatives and tabling it for consideration during an AICHR meeting. Discussions of complaints take place during closed meetings so it cannot be confirmed if and what cases have been discussed by AICHR. AICHR has not yet taken any public action to respond to a human rights situation or complaint.

iconLockWant more? Sample complaints and more information can be found on the ‘Human Rights in ASEAN’ online platform

Contact Information

The ASEAN Secretariat Public Outreach and Civil Society
70A, JI. Sisingamangaraja
Jakarta 12110

Tel. (62 21) 726 3372 or (62 21) 726 2991 | Fax. (62 21) 739-8234, 724-3504
public@asean.org – the AICHR also has an online form you may fill out and submit electronically.

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