JAKARTA, 9 June 2021– The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Consultation on Mainstreaming Human Rights in Humanitarian Actions took place physically, adhering to a strict health protocol, and virtually on 4 June.

In her welcome remarks, H.E. Hjh Nor Hashimah Hj Mohammed Taib, Chair and Brunei Darussalam’s Representative to the AICHR, emphasised that one of the ASEAN Chair’s main deliverables is to develop a Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD) across the three ASEAN Community pillars, to establish a platform that will enable ASEAN’s people to contribute in the regions’ natural disaster relief efforts.

H.E. Wahyuningrum, Indonesia’s Representative to the AICHR, highlighted the importance of taking human rights framework into humanitarian actions. Human rights remain inherent in the individuals the moment a natural disaster strikes or the context of climate-induced disasters. In fact, denial of human rights makes individuals and populations more vulnerable to devastation.

She mentioned that taking human rights framework into humanitarian actions means that responses should be based on key human rights principles. Notably the universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness, non-discrimination and equality, participation and inclusion, accountability, and the rule of law are anchored in a system of rights and corresponding obligations established by international law.

On his part, Faizal Chery Sidharta, Director for the ASEAN Political-Security Cooperation, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that human rights considerations within humanitarian actions should focus on the inclusion of the most vulnerable, those excluded from humanitarian protection and assistance, and the reduction of discrimination and politicisation in the distribution of aid. He hoped to see a stronger collaboration among AICHR, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and AHA Centre, in developing measures to mainstream human rights in ASEAN’s humanitarian actions.

More than 97 participants from ASEAN Member States, ASEAN sectoral bodies, relevant UN bodies, scholars, and civil society organisations attended the multi-stakeholder and cross-pillar consultation. It aimed to provide a platform for practitioners to share their practices, experiences, challenges, and ways forwards in integrating and implementing human rights in humanitarian responses, and to come up with recommendations on how to better mainstream it in ASEAN.

The consultation was divided into four sessions where practitioners discussed four categories of human rights commonly at stake in disasters, i.e., the right to the protection of life; the rights related to basic necessities such as food, health, shelter, and education; rights related to more long-term economic and social needs; and civil and political rights protection.

The consultation came up with recommendations as proposed by the participants:

  • To integrate human rights protection in humanitarian capacity development and preparedness
  • To promote better access to rights protection, access to legal process and justice proceedings
  • Protection of rights to properties requires pre-emptive and preparedness for displacement
  • ASEAN as regional platform to pool resources, in both competence and funding for protection of human rights in humanitarian actions
  • ASEAN to seek convergence of human rights and humanitarians of relevant bodies
  • ASEAN to encourage the resumption of civil services as inseparable part of emergency relief
  • AICHR to promote civil rights protection in disaster responses preparedness

AICHR acknowledged the support from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs towards the realisation of the consultation.