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Human Rights and Refugees High Commissioners welcome ASEAN Charter

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Human Rights and Refugees High Commissioners welcome ASEAN Charter

21 November 2007 Also available in:

Wednesday 21 November, 2007

GENEVA (UNHCR/OHCHR) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres welcome the adoption by ASEAN leaders in Singapore on Tuesday of an ASEAN Charter and the commitment to establish a human rights mechanism.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter, signed at a summit meeting, includes a firm commitment to international human rights and humanitarian principles and pledges to set up a dedicated ASEAN human rights body.

The High Commissioners note that ASEAN was leading the way in a region that, until now, has been without its own regional human rights framework or mechanism. They congratulate ASEAN officials, national institutions and civil society leaders who have worked tirelessly towards this goal.

"Regional and sub-regional arrangements of this kind can play an important role in complementing and reinforcing both international and national human rights protection systems," the High Commissioners said.

"An ASEAN human rights body will hopefully assist ASEAN Member States in dealing with common and transnational human rights and protection challenges, such as migration, forcible displacement and trafficking, as well as provide individuals in the ASEAN countries with new channels for redress," they added.

The High Commissioners encourage ASEAN to begin broad consultations on the terms of reference for the human rights body with a view to its early establishment and pledge their full support and assistance.

The 10-member ASEAN grouping comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.