Human rights have not figured prominently on the agenda of the
nine-member Association for Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) since its
inception in 1967. Rather, the pursuit of regional security and cooperative
measures for promoting trade and economic development have been
paramount ASEAN objectives. By" insisting on a strict separation between
human rights policy and trade issues, ASEAN has marginalized human
rights and has consistently opposed the use by foreign states or
international organizations of economic or other forms of pressure to
induce change in human rights practices. ASEAN member states display
an antipathy towards critical scrutiny of their human rights records-for
example, in reports from the United States Department of State or
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch. ASEAN's general response has been that this
constitutes foreign intervention in domestic matters, which undermines
state sovereignty and violates -the sacred principle of nonintervention in
internal affairs. Within the context of ASEAN itself, an emphasis on
harmony, compromise and consensus in ordering interstate relations helps
to preserve a fraternal silence with respect to the human rights violations of
member states. ASEAN policy (or lack thereof) towards human rights has
been one of reticence and nonengagement.
"Implementing Human Rights in ASEAN Countries: "Promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep","
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol2/iss1/1