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ASEAN urged to put rights component of new charter in separate treaty

[JURIST] Singaporean human rights group SG Human Rights [advocacy website] called Sunday for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] to split off the human rights section of its proposed new charter into a separate treaty. Chapter 14 of the draft Charter, which is to be signed early this coming week, aims to deepen the integration of member-states and promote human rights and democracy within the region. A "confidential" copy [PDF text] leaked onto the Internet reads in part:

ASEAN Charter, Article 14

1. In conformity with the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, ASEAN shall establish an ASEAN human rights body.

2. This ASEAN human rights body shall operate in accordance with the terms of reference to be determined by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting.
ASEAN is facing criticism for allowing military-ruled Myanmar to sign the Charter, but a split such as described might save face by allowing Myanmar to limit its signature to the Charter's governance provisions. Last Friday, the US Senate voted unanimously [AFP article] to urge ASEAN to suspend Myanmar until the regime showed respect for human rights. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo expressed skepticism [Inquirer article] Saturday about Myanmar's ability to commit to the goals of the Charter. Channel NewsAsia has more.

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