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Secretariat of the Working Group For An ASEAN Rights Mechanism

The Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (the Working Group) is an informal coalition of individuals and groups from the Southeast Asian region working in the field of human rights. It is organized into national working groups (NWGs) which are composed of representatives of government institutions, parliamentary human rights committees, national human rights institutions, the academe, and NGOs. Its primary objective is the establishment and development of credible and effective human rights mechanisms in Southeast Asia.


The ASEAN Charter, which entered into force on 15 December 2008, recognizes the Working Group as an “Entity Associated with ASEAN.” AHRC serves as the Secretariat of the Working Group.


Since 2001, the Working Group has been convening annual workshops on the ASEAN regional mechanism on human rights. These workshops are co-organized with a host ASEAN state (through its Foreign Ministry) and its national human rights institution, if it has one. These workshops produced concrete proposals such as the “establishment of an ASEAN commission on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children” and the “elaboration of an ASEAN instrument on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.” (Fourth Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights, Jakarta 2004).

The Working Group has also been continuously meeting with the ASEAN bodies and its Member States to discuss better human rights promotion and protection in the region.

Areas For Expansion

With the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in October 2009, AICHR has now started work in conformity with its commitment to “promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of peoples of ASEAN.” One of its priority plans is to prepare thematic studies, more particularly on Corporate Social Responsibility, Migration, and Trafficking in Persons, among others. For its part, the Working Group has continuously engaged the AICHR and other ASEAN bodies in shaping and developing the human rights promotion and protection environment in Southeast Asia.