Coping with Human Rights Challenge: A Perspective from Asean

Main Article Content

Ali Khan Ghumro
Dr Parvaiz Ali Mahesar
Dr Abdul Rehman Nizamani


Since its inception, ASEAN has constantly faced criticism from western countries and international human rights organizations. This paper particularly focuses on ASEAN human rights and non-interference policy. ASEAN has established two new commissions: Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission and Protection of Women and Children. This study focuses on the current state of human rights in ASEAN and addresses the following key questions: how ASEAN deals with human rights problems? Why ASEAN response to human rights has been considered as insufficient to handle/tackle human rights problems effectively? Hence, a qualitative approach was applied to this study using secondary sources of data. This study is based on thorough literature review and critical analysis of ASEAN human rights situation, by reviewing the relevant studies on human rights challenges in ASEAN, and its strategies in tackling this challenge. This study concludes that although the problem of human rights is recognized as per national, regional and international laws, but the challenge to implement them in letter and spirit require more concrete step at regional level on behalf of ASEAN, however, Non-intervention policy is a serious challenge to collective decision making on ASEAN human rights. Therefore, ASEAN needs to setup a mechanism where the member states can find common ground to handle human rights challenge.

Article Details



Acharya, A. (2009). Constructing a security community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the problem of regional order. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis
Arendshorst, J. (2009). The dilemma of non-interference: Myanmar, human rights, and the ASEAN charter. Nw. UJ Int'l Hum. Rts., 8, 102
Clark, A. M. (2010). Diplomacy of conscience: Amnesty International and changing human rights norms. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Collins, A. (2019). From commitment to compliance: ASEAN's human rights regression? The Pacific Review, 32(3), 365-394
Davies, M. (2013). ASEAN and human rights norms: constructivism, rational choice, and the action-identity gap. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 13(2), 207-231
Emmers, R., Greener-Barcham, B., & Thomas, N. (2006). Institutional arrangements to counter human trafficking in the Asia Pacific. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 490-511
Freeman, M. (2002). Human rights: An interdisciplinary approach: Contemporary challenges in securing human rights. Malden, MA, Blackwell, USA, 18
Freeman, M. (2017). Human rights. New Jercey: John Wiley & Sons
Funston, J. (1998). ASEAN: Out of its Depth. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 22-37
Gilson, J. (2018). ASEAN and regional responses to the problem (s) of land grabbing. Global Governance, 24(1), 41-60
Ginbar, Y. (2010). Human rights in ASEAN—setting sail or treading water? Human Rights Law Review, 10(3), 504-518
Glendon, M. A. (2004). The rule of law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, 2(1), 1-19
Gomez, J., and Ramcharan, R. (2014). Democracy and human rights in southeast Asia. Londo: SAGE Publications Sage
Hara, A. E. (2019). The struggle to uphold a regional human rights regime: the winding role of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 62(1). Retrieved from:
Hien, B. (2016). The ASEAN human rights system: a critical analysis. Asian Journal of Comparative Law, 11(1), 111-140
Johnson, V. R. (2015). The ancient magna carta and the modern rule of law: 1215 to 2015. St. Mary's Law Journal, San Antonio Texas, 47(1),1-62
Jones, L. (2010). ASEAN's unchanged melody? The theory and practice of ‘non-interference’in Southeast Asia. The Pacific Review, 23(4), 479-502
Katanyuu, R. (2006). Beyond non-interference in ASEAN: the association's role in Myanmar's national reconciliation and democratization. Asian Survey, 46(6), 825-845
Katsumata, H. (2003). Reconstruction of diplomatic norms in Southeast Asia: The case for strict adherence to the ASEAN Way. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs, 25(1), 104-121
Katsumata, H. (2004). Why is ASEAN diplomacy changing? From Non-Interference to Open and Frank Discussions. Asian Survey, 44(2), 237-254
Kelsall, M. S. (2009). The new ASEAN intergovernmental commission on human rights: Toothless Tiger or Tentative First Step? Asia Pacific, Honolulu, East-West Centre
Klugman, J. (2009). Human development report 2009. Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development. Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development (October 5, 2009). UNDP-HDRO Human Development Reports
Kraft, H. J. S. (2001). Human rights, ASEAN and constructivism: revisiting the Asian Values discourse. Philippine Political Science Journal, 22(45), 33-54
Kunz, J. L. (1949). The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. American Journal of International Law, 43(2), 316-323
Langlois, A. J. (2013). The ASEAN intergovernmental commission on human rights: Institutionalising human rights in Southeast Asia. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Laungaramsri, P. (2003). Ethnicity and the politics of ethnic classification in Thailand. Ethnicity in Asia, 157-173
Manea, M.-G. (2015). The claims of the ASEAN to human rights and democracy: What role for regional civil society? ASIEN, 136, 73-97
Mauzy, D. K. (1997). The human rights and'Asian values' debate in Southeast Asia: Trying to clarify the key issues. The Pacific Review, 10(2), 210-236
Mohamad, M. (2002). Towards a human rights regime in Southeast Asia: Charting the course of state commitment. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 230-251
Molthof, M. (2012). ASEAN and the principle of non-interference. E-International Relations Students
Morton, M. F. (2016). The Indigenous peoples’ movement in Thailand expands. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Perspective, 68, 1-12
Mydans, S. (2009). Thailand begins repatriation of Hmong to Laos. New York Times, 28
Narine, S. (2005). Humanitarian intervention and the question of sovereignty: the case of ASEAN. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 4(3), 465-485
Narine, S. (2012). Human rights norms and the evolution of ASEAN: moving without moving in a changing regional environment. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs, 34(3), 365-388
Narine, S. (2008). Forty years of ASEAN: a historical review. The Pacific Review, 21(4), 411-429
Petcharamesree, S. (2016). ASEAN human rights regime and mainstreaming the responsibility to protect: Challenges and prospects. Global Responsibility to Protect, 8(2-3), 133-157
Ramcharan, R. (2000). ASEAN and non-interference: a principle maintained. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 60-88
Reichert, E. (2006). Human rights: An examination of universalism and cultural relativism. Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, 22(1), 23-36
Schloenhardt, A. (2017). Trafficking in persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar to Thailand. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Bangkok
Secretariat, A. (2009). ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (Terms of Reference). Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat
Sen, A. (1997). Human rights and Asian values: Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs New York
Tan, H.-L. (2011). The ASEAN intergovernmental commission on human rights: institutionalising human rights in Southeast Asia: Cambridge University Press, New York
Tobing, D. H. (2018). The Limits and Possibilities of the ASEAN Way: The case of Rohingya as humanitarian issue in Southeast Asia. Knowledge E Social Sciences, 148–174-148–174
Tomuschat, C. (2014). Human rights: between idealism and realism: OUP Oxford
Villacorta, W. V. (2009). Inter-regional cooperation in democracy-building: prospects for enhanced ASEAN-EU engagement. Stockhom: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance