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The AICHR as a participatory space: contesting the secretive face of power

Alan Collins Orcid Logo, Edmund Bon Tai Soon

Australian Journal of International Affairs, Volume: 76, Issue: 4, Pages: 359 - 378

Swansea University Author: Alan Collins Orcid Logo

Abstract

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is often regarded unfavourably, depicted at best as irrelevant in the battle to promote and protect human rights in Southeast Asia, and at worst, complicit in the abuse of human rights by its silence in the face of the region’s human rig...

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Published in: Australian Journal of International Affairs
ISSN: 1035-7718 1465-332X
Published: Informa UK Limited 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59029
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Abstract: The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is often regarded unfavourably, depicted at best as irrelevant in the battle to promote and protect human rights in Southeast Asia, and at worst, complicit in the abuse of human rights by its silence in the face of the region’s human rights’ tragedies. While AICHR has many limitations, we regard it as a work-in-progress, evolving as it was always meant to. To understand this evolution, we conceive of AICHR as a participatory space in which contestation of what AICHR can, and cannot, do is being undertaken by its Representatives. This contestation includes exposing its secretive face of power by revealing: the space human rights can be discussed in; who can participate and who is excluded in this discussion; and how malleable the norms that operate within this space are to change. The latter aspect of contestation engages with the thorny “problem” of consensus. We argue that the presence of Representatives from outside of government has introduced a desire in AICHR for change; a dynamism that makes it a participatory space witnessing contestation that has the potential to enable AICHR to evolve. A space, therefore, that for all its shortcomings is worth watching.
Keywords: ASEAN, human rights, AICHR, participatory space, contestation
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Funders: This work was supported by the High Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) Global Challenges Research Fund under Grant W20/16HE
Issue: 4
Start Page: 359
End Page: 378