AICHR conducted their First Regional Consultation with regional and international civil society organizations (CSOs) in order to get their inputs and contributions to the development of the AHRD. Only a limited number of AICHR-approved organizations were able to participate in this consultation. Each ASEAN member state approved four national organizations to represent civil society in the consultations. International civil society organizations could only participate if their request had been approved by all AICHR member states. Prior to this formal Consultation, CSOs held a forum to coordinate and compile their comments on a June version of the draft Declaration. CSOs were not provided with an official copy of the up to date draft Declaration prior or during this Consultation.
AICHR continued discussions on the draft Declaration. It debated the notion of national and regional particularities , the limitation on rights, balancing rights with duties and responsibilities, and the protection of vulnerable and marginalized groups. AICHR also prepared for the first Regional Consultation with civil society organizations in Kuala Lumpur on June 22.
AICHR determined the Thematic Study on Corporate Social Responsibility's framework, methodology and timeframe. National focal points are to submit their national study to Study Team Member (STM) on July 20, 2012. This will be a consolidated into a comprehensive report taking into account inputs from all member states.
AICHR met with ASEAN sectorial bodies to receive input on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. AICHR did not share a copy of the draft Declaration prior to or during the consultation. Some sectorial bodies stated that this kind of consultation is a good practice and should continued in the future. However, others thought that their inputs were not meaningful, as they did not have access to the document upon which AICHR was consulting. AICHR never responded to the official letters sent by some sectorial bodies asking AICHR to share the draft. Some sectorial bodies reminded AICHR that the principle of transparency is part of human rights values. There was a request to AICHR not to monopolize human rights issues as it concerns all parties in the governments as well as the stakeholders.
ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) suggested AICHR consider five issues in the Preamble: a) the importance of implementing the principle of transparency as one of the values of human rights, b) implementation is equally important as ratifying or acceding international human rights instruments, c) the participation of all stakeholders, the protection of all human rights defenders, d) the importance of supporting and collaborating efforts with national mechanisms for human rights protection at ASEAN member states, e) support the involvement of stakeholders including civil society organizations. ACWC also highlighted the urgency of the inclusion of CEDAW, violence against women, the principle of equality and non-discrimination, equal protection to all persons especially women.
The Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime suggested that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration should include protection for victims of people smuggling and trafficking in persons. SOMTC also said that AHRD should be drafted based on universally accepted human rights but at the same time should not in contradict the laws and norms that applied in the ASEAN member states.
The Senior Officials Meeting on Education suggested that AHRD should guarantee: a) free elementary education, and b) equal access to higher education for all.
The ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers stated that the Declaration should deal with labour and migrant workers as these issues are being handled by ACMW. ACMW requested that the word migrant workers not be mentioned in anywhere in Declaration. In response to this request, AICHR clarified that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will include all elements of human rights and will not duplicate but rather complement the existing ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Migrant Workers.
The Senior Officials Meeting on the Environment requested that the Declaration include principles of sustainable environment, MDGs and clean and green .
The Senior Official Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Reduction requested that the human rights based approach to poverty, the universality of human rights and the principles of empowerment, participation and rights related to rural community be considered in AHRD.
The Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development stated that AHRD should ensure the rights of the elderly, persons with disability and children are protected.
Discussed the Principles of the Declaration for all sections. Some issues emerged as follow:
- Some countries (especially Laos) insisted that the words of National and Regional specificity can be added which then refused by other member countries in AICHR.
- There was an objection to include right along with the term statelessness .
- There were member countries that suggested that the word the duties of states to be changed with the responsibilities of state .
- One country has insisted that the number of page for the declaration should be limited to five pages only.
- There was a debate on the right to practice and change one s religion.
ACWC conducted a study tour to the United States of American in order to exchange Information and views on the protection of the rights of women and children in the U.S. and ASEAN member states. ACWC representatives met with senior government officials, members of Congress and UN Agencies, and visited a community school and met with corporate and media actors to discuss how they can support women and children s rights.
AICHR discussed the sections of the Declaration on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development . AICHR approved the modality for consulting with the ASEAN sectorial bodies on the Declaration which would not include distributing the draft Declaration prior to consultations.
The ACWC DT agreed to create a zero draft instrument on migrant worker rights involving the following 7 elements:
' The definition of undocumented Migrant Workers will be included in brackets and discussed during phase 2 of the negotiations over the instrument
' The ASEAN Secretariat will prepare a zero draft and will: i) circulate the revised provisions by May 2012 for comment by ASEAN Member States, ii) incorporate comments by July 2012, iii) compile the comments and circulate to all Member States by mid-August 2012, iii) have a compilation of Member State views for discussion at the 6th ACMW-DT Meeting in Viet Nam in September 2012.
AICHR discussed the section of the Declaration on Civil and Political Rights and debated: a) the issue of enforced disappearances under the paragraph on the Right to Personal Liberty and Security; b) restrictions of rights, i.e. right to move, right to seek asylum. There was also a debate about conducting a consultation with civil society organizations that had been earlier agreed to in 2011. Some member states argued that it is more important to consult with sectorial bodies in ASEAN on the Human Rights Declaration rather than with civil society. AICHR agreed to consult with the ASEAN sectorial bodies before consulting with CSOs. AICHR also formally adopted its Guidelines of Operations.