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ASEAN NHRIs Forged Cooperation Agreement

The Human Rights Commissions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand have signed a Declaration of Cooperation for the protection and promotion of human rights in the South East Asia. The cooperation agreement was signed by the Chairpersons/heads of delegations of the four commissions at the conclusion of their third Consultation Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia from June 26-28, 2007.

The so called "ASEAN Four" agreed to carry out programs and activities particularly in five human rights issues of common concern. These interborder issues and common concerns provide the framework of their cooperation, namely: (a) suppression of terrorism while respecting human rights; (b) human rights aspects of trafficking in persons, (c) protection of the human rights of migrants and migrant workers, (d) implementation of economic, social and cultural rights and right to development, and (e) enhancement of human rights education.

In addition, they agreed to "advise their respective governments to take necessary steps to establish an appropriate ASEAN human rights mechanism and/or any organ in the ASEAN Charter."

CHRP Chairperson Purificacion C. Valera Quisumbing said the signing of the Declaration of Cooperation is a historic event, the result of three years of hard work among the commissions, which was conceived in June 2004 at the 4th Workshop on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism in Jakarta, Indonesia.

At the suggestion of Chair Quisumbing, the four human rights commissions agreed to hold regular consultation meetings among themselves, build closer cooperation, and come up with practical and most feasible actions to protect and promote human rights, and assist in the development of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

The first consultation meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand, where the four identified and prioritized five common concerns as areas of cooperation. They likewise agreed to prepare research papers on the five themes assigned as follows: terrorism - Indonesia; migration and migrant workers - Malaysia; human trafficking - Philippines; ESCR/right to development - Thailand; and HR education - Philippines and Thailand.

The papers were presented and discussed at the second Consultative meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in March 2006 and at the first Regional Workshop of Human Rights Cooperation held in Manila in April 2006.

At the Bali Meeting, the four commissions discussed the draft Cooperation Framework initially prepared by the Indonesian Human rights Commission based on the research papers on the five thematic areas.

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