What ASEAN Really Means by "Taking Action"

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ASEAN, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has been heavily criticized by human rights organizations for its meekness when it comes to accusations of grave human right violations committed inside member states. But what's the view of human rights activists working inside ASEAN? 

In light of accusations of acts of genocide in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and the exodus of almost a million Rohingya people to neighbouring Bangladesh, some critics have called ASEAN “an embarrassment” in its response. But ASEAN has claimed to have made progress towards addressing the issue. Some leaders of ASEAN have attested to this, including human right activists who are currently on the seats of AICHR, the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission of Human Rights. 

They state that internal mechanisms are being used to encourage member states to begin providing updates on sensitive matters and discussing internal issues, allowing for members to voice concerns and provide feedback through forums. One example is the development of communication channels among member states through ASEAN’s Centre for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management, or AHA Centre. Though some inside ASEAN see these efforts as great achievements, what AICHR and ASEAN have been doing barely touches the issue, particularly when it comes to accusations of acts of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar against the Rohingya community.

With that said, if merely talking about how to talk about the issue is considered progress in ASEAN and for AICHR, then there is a serious internal issues within ASEAN need to be addressed.

Shawn Corrigan