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ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, AICHR

Eight ASEAN countries have indigenous peoples; Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao-PDR, Vietnam and Burma. The indigenous peoples of the ASEAN countries strive to include indigenous peoples’ rights in the priorities of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, AICHR, which was formally launched in 2009.

Weak Human Rights Declaration

The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration was adopted in 2012. The Declaration has recieved widespread criticism for being flawed and for falling below international human rights standards. This has not stopped the AICHR from promoting its use and the Commission is planning to come up with legally binding human rights conventions based on the Declaration.

For indigenous peoples, there is no clear indication that the AICHR, as a human rights body, will start discussing and addressing the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia in the near future.

Civil society organizations also criticize the AICHR’s Terms of Reference for its lack of a clear protection mandate, its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN member states, and its principle about consensual decision making. In 2013, the ACHPR decided that it would review the body's the Terms of Reference in 2014.

Indigenous peoples’ Task Force lobbies the AICHR

Since 2009, an Indigenous Peoples’ Task Force, the IPTF, coordinates the participation and engagement of indigenous peoples in the work of the ASEAN and its relevant bodies. The IPTF aims at formulating joint strategies and action plans to lobby the AICHR. The Task Force also engages other civil society organizations to support indigenous issues and build a common platform for AICHR advocacy.

The IPTF is composed of indigenous leaders from the eight ASEAN countries with indigenous peoples. The regional network organization Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, AIPP, hosts the secretariat of the IPTF.

Read IWGIA’s briefing paper “ASEAN’s Indigenous Peoples”

Relevant IWGIA activities

IWGIA has supported the work of the IPTF since mid-2010. IWGIA is presently engaged in facilitating experience sharing between the three regional human rights mechanisms: the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights.

For a yearly update on the ASEAN and the AICHR please find IWIGA's yearbook on the top right of the page.