ASEAN Citizens’ Rights: Rule of Law, Judiciary and Law Enforcement

04-07-2013

With the ASEAN Charter of 2008, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s post Asian Financial Crisis reforms climaxed. The Charter added democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and good governance to the sovereignty norms dominating the ASEAN Way, the grouping’s established repository of cooperation norms. The formation of a human rights body and the enactment of an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) strengthened citizens’ rights in the region. However, critics deplore limitations of citizens’ rights due to a concept of context-based rights, limited mandates, legal ambiguities, the reforms’ non-binding nature and the lack of stakeholder participation in the reform process. At the national level, the implementation record of citizens’ rights is ambiguous. While on the one hand improvements of the rule of law and in the domains of good governance and law enforcement can be identified, there are, on the other hand, still major rhetoric-action gaps, often relegating citizens’ rights to a declaratory level. EU policies should address persisting problems of rights implementation by sensibly responding to ASEAN’s search for international legitimacy and reputation. This entails policies of shaming and social sanctioning in international forums, but also granting due recognition for major improvements.

With the ASEAN Charter of 2008, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s post Asian Financial Crisis reforms climaxed. The Charter added democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and good governance to the sovereignty norms dominating the ASEAN Way, the grouping’s established repository of cooperation norms. The formation of a human rights body and the enactment of an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) strengthened citizens’ rights in the region. However, critics deplore limitations of citizens’ rights due to a concept of context-based rights, limited mandates, legal ambiguities, the reforms’ non-binding nature and the lack of stakeholder participation in the reform process. At the national level, the implementation record of citizens’ rights is ambiguous. While on the one hand improvements of the rule of law and in the domains of good governance and law enforcement can be identified, there are, on the other hand, still major rhetoric-action gaps, often relegating citizens’ rights to a declaratory level. EU policies should address persisting problems of rights implementation by sensibly responding to ASEAN’s search for international legitimacy and reputation. This entails policies of shaming and social sanctioning in international forums, but also granting due recognition for major improvements.

Údar seachtarach

Jürgen RÜLAND (University of Freiburg, Germany)