Human rights on the agenda of Asean foreign ministers meet

PHOTO: The Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - Human rights will be on the agenda of ASEAN foreign ministers when they meet today.

The 10 ministers will have a meeting with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) representatives and discuss the commission's next five-year workplan on promoting human rights in the region.

This meeting takes place ahead of the official opening of the 48th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at Putra World Trade Centre tomorrow.

According to a Wisma Putra statement, representatives from the Commission will also present to the ministers their priority programmes for next year.

Set up by ASEAN in 2009, the AICHR is responsible to help promote and protect human rights in the region.

However, the Commission has been widely criticised as being toothless and lacking a clear mandate.

Malaysia's representative to the Commission, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, is chairing the AICHR meeting as Malaysia is the ASEAN chairman this year.

Bernama quoted Shafee as saying that he hoped the session today would address priority issues, especially those concerning human trafficking.

The AICHR had completed a thematic study on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and would suggest to the foreign ministers to look seriously at the CSR mechanism as a holistic approach to promote people-centred and socially responsible ASEAN member states.

A judiciary symposium in Kuala Lumpur in October involving chief justices and supreme court judges from ASEAN and several other countries would be a platform to share and exchange views and experiences on how the judiciary should play its role on the issue of human rights, he added.