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PacNet #70A – Can ASEAN Learn about Human Rights from Africa?

Even before its birth this past weekend at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am, Thailand, many commentators expressed disappointment with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Human rights activists allege that ASEAN stripped the commission of any “teeth” in order to appease perennial human rights violators, such as Burma. Defenders counter that the result was a necessary political compromise in accord with the “ASEAN Way.” Indeed, measuring the AICHR against the European Court of Human Rights would seem unfair because Europe consists exclusively of liberal democracies. However, even when compared to the rest of the developing world, ASEAN still has much to learn about much about establishing an effective human rights body from – of all places – Africa.