Indonesian Top Diplomat Speaks about Human Rights in South East Asia

This photo is from when Dr. Hassan Wirajuda was giving a lecture at the Centre for East and South-East Asian studies titled “The Permanent Court of Arbitration Ruling on the South China Sea: Implications for Indonesia and Beyond”?

Dr. Hassan Wirajuda said ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, needs to move faster and better when it comes to human rights promotion at a recent speech at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund. He said many civil and political rights, such as freedom of association and freedom of assembly, are simply components of democracy. He emphasized that human rights and democracy go hand in hand.

Often labelled the region of the 21st century, he said the Asia-Pacific still lacks stability, citing the South China Sea conflicts as proof.

To attempt to make the region more stable and democratic, in 2001, Indonesia suggested a regional cooperation to strengthen good governance and rule of law. He reminded those in attendance that in the ASEAN/Asia-Pacific region, governance ranges from democracies to single party authoritarian regimes.

“Certain government officials feared this cooperation would be the end of their legitimacy,” Dr. Wirajuda said.

Almost two decades after the creation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission, it released its first product: a human rights declaration. “You know, the devil is in the details, and independence has been a challenge from the start,” argued Wirajuda. “An Asian human rights policy needs to make a clear reference that there is a mandate to receive complaints, to obtain information and investigate human rights violations, otherwise it will not work in practice.”

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