ASEAN

16th ASEAN Summit: media coverage on ACWC (for documentation)

ASEAN commission to protect rights of women & children

By S Ramesh

The Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) flag (R) leads the flags of the member countries

SINGAPORE: Preparatory meetings for the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi have begun.

Kicking off the series of meetings on Wednesday was the launch of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

Taking part in the ceremony was Singapore's Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who said setting up of the Commission is an important milestone in ASEAN's development.

It fulfils one of the ideals spelt out in the ASEAN Charter - which is to strengthen regional cooperation in this area.

The ASEAN Secretariat says the Commission will serve as a bridge for the well-being, development, empowerment and participation of women and children in the community-building process.

Speaking at the event, Vietnam's Prime Minister and current ASEAN Chair, Mr Nguyen Tan Dung, said he hopes the Commission will work closely with the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights and other institutions to protect ASEAN women and children.

He said women and children make up over half of ASEAN's population and are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of the 10-member grouping's development process.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1048513/1/.html

ASEAN gets commission for children and women

Sri Wahyuni ,The Jakarta Post ,Hanoi

ASEAN officials inaugurated Wednesday the Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), to augment the human rights body established last year.

The ACWC has a mandate to, among others, develop policies, programs and innovative strategies vis-vis the rights of women and children in the region.

โ€œAs commissioners we have the task of improving the standard of implementation of the rights of children,โ€ Indonesian ACWC commissioner Ahmad Taufan Damanik said after the inauguration, held a day prior to the blocโ€™s summit, which kicks off Thursday in Hanoi.

Under the terms of reference of the establishment of the commission, the ACWC comprises representatives from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Each state is represented by two commissioners, one for womenโ€™s rights and the other for childrenโ€™s rights, who serve three-year terms and may be consecutively reappointed for an additional term.

Child rights activist Damanik, based in North Sumatra, has been appointed the Indonesian commissioner for child rights, while activist Rita Serena Kalibonso, from the Mitra Perempuan womenโ€™s crisis center, has been named the countryโ€™s commissioner for womenโ€™s rights.

โ€œIn the next three years, we are mandated to establish a childrenโ€™s and womenโ€™s rights monitoring system in Southeast Asia and will deal with sensitive issues relating to children and women,โ€ Damanik said.

Among the issues are child trafficking, abuse and labor, which he said was experienced almost universally in the 10 ASEAN member states.

Some states also face the problem of child combatants.

Damanik said tackling child trafficking could begin by focusing in the Mekong Delta countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, and between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Indonesian human rights activist Yuyun Wahyuningrum, who works with ASEAN, lauded the inauguration of the ACWC and said the new body had an even bigger mandate than the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

โ€œThe ACWC has a protection mandate, which the AICHR doesnโ€™t,โ€ she said in Hanoi.

She added the ACWC had the mandate to support the participation of women and children in the dialogue and consultation processes in ASEAN as related to the promotion and protection of their rights.

โ€œThis opens up the opportunity for public participation in the processes,โ€ Yuyun said.

Indonesiaโ€™s representative to the AICHR, Rafendi Djamin, was upbeat about the rights commission and the ACWC working together and cooperating closely to prevent an of overlap of responsibility or scope of work.

Djauhari Oratmangun, the Indonesian Foreign Ministryโ€™s director general of ASEAN affairs, said the establishment of the new commission boded well for the region.

โ€œSome five years ago it was difficult to imagine that ASEAN would have special bodies dealing with human rights issues,โ€ he said.

โ€œNow, a year since the ASEAN Charter took effect, we have inaugurated the AICHR and the ACWC.โ€

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/04/08/asean-gets-commission-children-and-women.html

Malaysia Commits To Women And Children Commission

HANOI, April 7 (Bernama) -- Kuala Lumpur is prepared to play an active role in and is fu21lly committed to the future undertakings of the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children in the advancement of the two groups.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that at the national level, Malaysia had established the mechanisms to promote the rights of women and children to live in peace, dignity and prosperity.

This was in line with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of Children as had been adopted by Malaysia since 1995, she said in the country's statement at a meeting after the inauguration of the commission at the National Convention Centre, here, Wednesday.

The statement was read out by Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum.

Shahrizat said the existence of the commission should be viewed as a commendable effort to elevate women socially, economically and politically as well to ensure that the future of children in the Asean countries are protected.

She said the existence of the commission would be a momentous move in providing a comprehensive agenda for the development of the region as it moved towards becoming an Asean Community by 2015.

"Thus, our presence today will be a big step towards ensuring and safeguarding the rights of all women and children in Asean in our efforts to achieve a better tomorrow," she said.

She said the establishment of the commission and its alignment with the Asean Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights, which was set up last year, would further strengthen Asean's human rights framework as a whole.

Malaysia, she said, acknowledged the importance of the establishment of the commission as a special commission dedicated to addressing the issues of women and children.

Women and children, who represent 50 per cent of Asean's 550 million population, were an integral part of society and contributed in no small measure to the development of a nation, she said.

Malaysia also believed that the contribution from women, especially those in the labour force, was highly significant in this region, she said, adding that the presence of women in the economic sector was a pivotal contributor to the prosperity of a nation.

In this regard, she added, the participation of women in the labour force had resulted in an increase in productivity, creating wealth for the nation.

"Consequently, we firmly believe that investing in women is smart economics."

Source: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=488618

Asean Body On Rights Of Women, Children Established

Written by James Kon in Hanoi

Hanoi - ASEAN's human rights protection, especially for women and children, received a boost yesterday following the official establishment of the Asean Commission on Promotion and Protection of Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) at the 16th Asean Summit at the National Convention Centre, in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The inaugural ceremony was held yesterday in front of senior representatives from Asean countries.

The establishment of the ACWC is another significant milestone in the evolution of Asean as it provides the concrete expression to the implementation of the purpose and principles of Asean as stipulated in the Charter, the Vientiane Action Programme 2004-2010, ASCC blueprint, the APSC blueprint and Asean commitment to strengthen regional cooperation on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.

Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who is among the Asean Ministers responsible for Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council, was present to witness the inaugural ceremony.

The ACWC will serve as a bridge for the well-being, development, empowerment and participation of women and children in the Asean community building process. ASCC and Asean ministers responsible for social welfare and development (AMSWD) are confident that with the establishment and operation of the ACWC, Asean cooperation on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children will continue to evolve and develop step by step.

The ACWC and the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) shall continue to discuss on the ultimate alignment between the ACWC and the AICHR. Meanwhile, the ACWC will collaborate with other relevant Asean sectoral bodies in order to deal with issues pertaining to women and children.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, as the Asean Chair, in his welcoming remarks said, "The establishment of the ACWC represents the common will of the Asean leaders enshrined in the Vientiane Action Programme and the Roadmap for Asean Community for 2009-2015, which rests on the three pillars of political security, economics and socio-culture and the plan for narrowing the development gap.

"The foundation of the ACWC is one of the important measures to enhance social welfare, development, empowerment for and participation of women and children in building the Asean Community.

"The ACWC is now in operation with the mandate of realising the aspirations of Asean women and children thus translating into reality the objectives on women and children set out in the Charter, the Asean Community Building Roadmap and in other documents," he added.

Also present were Hj Mohammad Hj Abd Rahman, Brunei's Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports representing the minister with Hajah Misnah binti Hj Bolhassan, Acting Director of Community Development.

Two prominent Bruneian women have been appointed as Brunei's Commissioners for the Asean commission on Promotion and Protection of Rights of Women and

Children. They are Datin Hajah Adina binti Othman, former Director of Community Development, and Datin Paduka Intan binti Hj Md Kassim, former Director of the Anti Corruption Bureau.

Meanwhile, regional campaigners welcomed the creation of the body but said it could face the same limitations as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' human rights commission founded late last year, AFP reported.

They expressed concern about the independence of commissioners, and whether either body can actually protect the region's most vulnerable.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Rights Watch's Asia division, called the commission a step forward but said: "We're really going to have to watch very closely."

At a ceremony in Hanoi, Asean proclaimed that the commission on women's and children's rights marks a "turning point" for the region.

"These are the vulnerable half of the Asean community, the women and the children," the bloc's Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan, told reporters.

"So if we wish to become a compassionate community, a sharing and caring community... we have to take care of the women and the children."

Activists say they expect the new commission to examine issues including human trafficking, child labour, child soldiers, and gender discrimination.-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Source: http://www.brudirect.com/index.php/2010040719143/Second-Stories/asean-body-on-rights-of-women-children-established.html

Asean turf war hinders rights protection

By The Nation

Two human rights bodies squabble over responsibilities, leaving victims wondering who to look to for help

However, at the eleventh hour, the AICHR and ACWC still cannot resolve their disagreement on the latter's status. Within the Asean circle, this issue has been labelled as a "problem of alignment".There is a real turf war going on between the two newly established Asean human rights mechanisms - theAsean Inter-governmental Commission for Human Rights (AICHR) and the Asean Commission on the Protection of Women and Children (ACWC). At issue here is whether these two bodies should work together in safeguarding the human rights of an estimated 595 million citizens of the regional grouping; or should the ACWC be brought within the remit of the AICHR, as the latter is mandated to be the "overarching" body on human rights in Asean. The ACWC will be officially inaugurated in Hanoi ahead of the 16th Asean Summit, which opens tomorrow.

At the joint consultation session between representatives of the two bodies in Jakarta on March 30, it was clear that the AICHR did not want to see the ACWC acting independently. The ACWC, which has protective mandates, could thus compete with the AICHR, which was set up in October last year and has not yet reached functional status.

Several AICHR members, especially those from Burma, want to amend the terms of reference for the ACWC, adopted by the Asean Ministerial Meeting for Social Welfare and Development. The ongoing battle has threatened the scheduled inaugural ceremony. The Philippines opposed any launch of the ACWC before the settlement of the "alignment issue".

However, the host, Vietnam, is anxious to follow the plan. The bickering is the outcome of the vague mandate contained in the Asean Charter and the AICHR's terms of reference. First of all, according to Article 14 of the charter, Asean is mandated to create a human rights body, which it did and which has been transformed into the current AICHR.

In the terms of reference of the AICHR (Article 6.8), the body is mandated to be the "overarching" body for human rights protection. As such, several AICHR members have argued that their body represents the only Asean human rights mechanism, and that other regional human rights bodies such as the ACWC should come under its auspices.

Contrarily, the ACWC members argue that their body is not competing with the AICHR because it seeks to protect the rights of only a portion of the Asean population - women and children. However, this group comprises at least half of the region's people.

A Thai commissioner of the ACWC, Saisuree Chutikul, argues that Asean is becoming more active in improving the quality of life of its citizens, so it is imperative that "we should also leave room for further development in establishing other bodies similar to the AICHR and the ACWC".

It is interesting to note that within the UN human rights set-up, the UN Human Rights Council serves as the governing body, with the UN Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Women and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as international human rights bodies dealing with women and children respectively. Each of these bodies operates independently.

The ACWC commissioners would like to see Asean adopt a similar structural model. Furthermore, there is a sticking point of external funding. Both the AICHR and ACWC are expecting financial assistance from abroad for their programmes.

The Philippines has been adamant that the ACWC must drop the external funding provision from its terms of reference. Manila reiterated that only the AICHR should have the authority to receive foreign funding and have a say over funding management, as it fears that foreign donors could manipulate rights bodies via hidden agendas.

After the inauguration today, it will become clearer what should be the proper alignment between the two bodies. The best way out is for the two commissions to complement instead of compete with each other.

Source: http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=11253&sec=3

Official Opening of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Women and Children's Rights

Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this morning attended the Official Opening of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Women and Children's Rights, AWAC.

Her Royal Highness was joined by the ASEAN Ministers responsible for Social Welfare and Development. The Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, His Excellency Nguyen Tan Dung expressed his pleasure and welcomed the creation of another new body within ASEAN. The establishment of this body became an ASEAN landmark towards contributing a concrete expression in the implementation of the ASEAN Charter principles. This is in line with its commitment to strengthen regional cooperation on the promotion and protection of Women and Children's rights. This body becomes the platform for development and participation of women and children in the process of building an ASEAN Community.

Earlier, Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna attended the 3rd ASEAN Socio-Culture Community Council, ASCC, Meeting. The meeting discussed global challenges and efforts towards developing human resources for the economic development and recovery. The meeting also touched on the implementation of the ASCC Master Scheme which covers efforts to develop individual potential, and boosting social welfare and protection. The Scheme was approved during last year's 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand.

ASEAN commission on womenโ€™s rights debuts

The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) was officially established in Hanoi on April 7, with 20 members from 10 ASEAN nations taking part.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vietnamโ€™s Prime Minister and Chair of ASEAN 2010 Nguyen Tan Dung said that the setting up of the ACWC reflects the aspirations of ASEANโ€™s leaders as stated in the 2004 Vientiane Action Programme, the roadmap for building the ASEAN Community from 2009-2015 based on the three pillars of politics-security, economics and socio-cultural issues and narrowing the development gap.

โ€œThe move will also contribute to realising the theme of ASEAN 2010 which is, Towards the ASEAN Community: From Vision to Action,โ€ said the PM.

The formation of the ACWC is considered an important measure that will help to increase social welfare and promote the participation of women and children in building the ASEAN Community.

PM Dung said that the commission will champion the wishes of women and children within the ASEAN member countries, as well as the targets related to women and children set out in the ASEAN Charter, the roadmap for building the ASEAN Community and other legislation.

The government leader said that he hopes the ACWC will work closely with the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights and other bodies both in and outside the bloc to help promote and protect the rights of women and children.

The Vietnamese Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chair of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community meeting, said the establishment of the ACWC marks an important milestone in ensuring the equal development of women and children in the process of building the ASEAN Community.

Ngan, who also takes over the chair of the ASEAN Social Welfare Ministersโ€™ meeting, said that the ACWC will hold its first meeting to discuss targets and operational directions for the near future.

Participants in the third meeting of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) prior to the 16thASEAN Summit discussed carrying out the ASCCโ€™s master plan, the deployment of the communityโ€™s plans in the near future and debating and defining priorities for 2010 whilst adopting a number of documents related to the ASCCโ€™s activities.

Source: http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/ASEAN-commission-on-womens-rights-debuts/20104/114399.vov

Asean Commission On Women And Children

By Jamaluddin Muhammad

HANOI, April 6 (Bernama) -- Acknowledging that 50 per cent of Asean's population of 550 million people consists of women and children, the grouping will take a major initiative to protect their rights and conditions with the setting up of a commission Wednesday.

The establishment of the Asean Commission on the Protection of Rights of Women and Children at the ongoing Asean Summit, here, aimed to further improve their livelihood, said Vietnam Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam.

He said the commission would be launched during the ministerial-level Asean Socio-Cultural Council meeting at the National Convention Centre, here.

"The commission will draw concrete programmes in assisting Asean women and children," he said.

The setting up of the commission is in line with the vision of forming an Asean Community by 2015 based on three pillars including Asean Socio-Cultural Community.

The 10-member grouping wants to form the Asean Community based on its own mould and strives to create a caring society, focusing on social development, education and human resources development and public health under the Asean Socio-Cultural Community pillar.

The other two pillars are Asean Economic Community and Asean Political- Security Community.

The establishment of the commission is one of the three major initiatives at this summit apart from two statements on climate change and sustained economic recovery and development.

Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) formed during last year's Asean Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, was also part of the initiative towards building the Asean Community by 2015.

Source: http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/ASEAN-commission-on-womens-rights-debuts/20104/114399.vov

ASEAN launch commission to protect rights of women and children ahead of Leaders Summit

Preparatory meetings for the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi have begun.

And kicking off the series of meetings today was the launch of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.

Taking part in the ceremony was Singapore's Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who said setting up of the Commission is an important milestone in ASEAN's development.

It fulfils one of the ideals spelt out in the ASEAN Charter - which is to strengthen regional cooperation in this area.

The ASEAN Secretariat says the Commission will serve as a bridge for the well-being, development, empowerment and participation of women and children in the community-building process.

Speaking at the event, Vietnam's Prime Minister and current ASEAN Chair, Mr Nguyen Tan Dung said he hopes the Commission will work closely with the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights and other institutions - to protect ASEAN women and children.

He said women and children make up over half of ASEAN's population and are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of the 10-member grouping's development process.

Source: http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4016589

ASEAN body to address rights of women and children

HANOI--Southeast Asia on Wednesday took another step towards addressing long-neglected human rights issues, with the inauguration of a commission to address the rights of women and children. Regional campaigners welcomed the creation of the body but said it could face the same limitations as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' human rights commission founded late last year.

They expressed concern about the independence of commissioners, and whether either body can actually protect the region's most vulnerable.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, called the commission a step forward but said: "We're really going to have to watch very closely."

At a ceremony in Hanoi, ASEAN proclaimed that the commission on women's and children's rights marks a "turning point" for the region.

"These are the vulnerable half of the ASEAN community, the women and the children," the bloc's secretary general, Surin Pitsuwan, told reporters ahead of a summit which opens Thursday.

"So if we wish to become a compassionate community, a sharing and caring community... we have to take care of the women and the children."

ASEAN aims by 2015 to form a free-market "community" of almost 600 million people committed to democratic ideals.

Activists say they expect the new commission to examine issues including human trafficking, child labor, child soldiers, and gender discrimination.

Among its stated functions, the 20-member commission is to "promote and protect rights"; build judicial and administrative capacity; and encourage data collection, studies and research.

Yap Swee Seng, executive director of Forum-Asia, an umbrella for regional rights groups, said the commission's terms of reference lean more towards promotion of rights.

"I think it will be difficult for the commission to embark on a protection mandate," he said, a criticism also levelled at ASEAN's human rights commission.

The 10-nation ASEAN has a principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which activists say has restricted its ability to criticize rights abuses, particularly in military-run Myanmar.

Activists said rules and procedures for both the new commission and the existing rights body need to be further defined for them to work effectively, including with non-governmental organizations.

Robertson said both commissions are dominated by current and former civil servants, rather than independent experts, raising questions about their potential effectiveness.

"I think, before this, ASEAN was criticized for not having these kind of mechanisms. Now that we have them we are being criticized that they will not be effective enough. I think, give us a chance," Surin told AFP.

He said that, given time, the institutions can develop "into something that I think the region can be proud of."

In the past, ASEAN was focused on economic issues, but since the bloc's 2008 charter committed it to tighter links as a "community", there must be a strong social component as well, said one Asian diplomat.

Despite what critics say, the new rights mechanisms will at least "put things on the table to talk about," said the Hanoi-based diplomat.

Asia-Pacific was the only region in the world without a formal human rights body, Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in its latest report on global rights.

It said it welcomed ASEAN's commitment to establish a rights mechanism.

Source from Agence France-Pressehttp://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20100407-262920/ASEAN-body-to-address-rights-of-women-and-children

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