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7 Oct, 2016

ASEAN youth debate on human rights

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 October 2016 (ASEAN secretariat media release) – ASEAN youth met in Kuala Lumpur on 22-23 September 2016 to exchange their views on human rights issues such as abortion, child marriages, climate change, the rights of migrant workers and the right to peace.

Their meeting was part of the Youth Debate on Human Rights themed “Realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Context of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) 2012, held by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). The AICHR Youth Debates are held regularly and serve as a pertinent platform for the ASEAN youth to express their aspirations on human rights issues by presenting their own thoughts, to listen to those of others and to advocate for youth-led solution. This has indirectly encouraged interaction and friendship among youths from diverse background and affiliation in all 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS).


Picture source: ASEAN secretariat

“While the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) appear to focus on the achievements of communities and countries, they really arise from the concern for the rights, dignity and well-being of each human individual, which in turn are clearly spelled out in the AHRD,” said H.E. Edmund Bon Tai Soon, representative of Malaysia to AICHR, in his welcome remarks. “The AICHR, being the overarching ASEAN human rights institution, must view the SDGs through the human rights lens and ensure that human rights principles are integrated in the ASEAN process of achieving the SDGs,” he added.

The 3rd Youth Debate specifically aimed to raise awareness and enhance understanding among the ASEAN youth on the AHRD and how AHRD connects to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. The SDGs are grounded on the concern for the rights, dignity and well-being of each human individual. Each SDG finds its place within the AHRD. For example, the SDG on “good health and well-being” relates to Article 28 of the AHRD which sets out the rights to an adequate standard of living for every person including the right to adequate and affordable food, clothing, housing, medical care, social services, safe drinking water, sanitation and a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

The event was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia in collaboration with the University of Malaya, the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking (MIDP) and the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security (ASEAN-U.S. PROGRESS).

The fourth edition of the debate will be held in 2017 and hosted by AICHR Thailand.