Bali, Indonesia, 28 November 2011

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At the sideline of the 7th Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights or AICHR, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, met the UN High Commisioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay. Both were invited for an interface with the AICHR Representatives. The High Commissioner has spent the last three days in Bali meeting the national human rights institutions from four of the ten ASEAN Member States, and a broad range of civil society organizations.

Dr Surin noted that ASEAN has long been an area of interest for several UN High Commissioners for Human Rights. But this is the first time that the UN High Commissioner has asked to meet AICHR – providing a tremendous boost of recognition of AICHR as the first human rights institution in Asia.

The High Commissioner emphasized that delivery on human rights is important, and requires the involvement of stakeholders and civil society. There are practices employed by other regional human rights institutions on the formal engagement with civil society organisations and stakeholders that ASEAN and AICHR can refer to and promulgate their own processes for engagement.

ASEAN’s progress on human rights, by the establishment of AICHR, has triggered interest from other regions to establish similar sub-region human rights mechanisms. The ASEAN people is also waiting on the positive influence and benefits the work of AICHR will bring to their lives, through the implementation of AICHR’s Work Plan. The importance of AICHR’s work will have a decisive impact and will improve the quality of life of the people of ASEAN.

The Secretary-General suggested that the experts on human rights from ASEAN countries should be brought together to exchange ideas on human rights and enrich the efforts on promotion and protection of human rights in the region.