In order to improve respect for the rights of workers in Southeast Asia, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), together with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), will launch a new Guidance on Freedom of Association of Workers in ASEAN.
The launch will be at a virtual event today, joined by Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.
The Guidance, drawn from existing international human rights and labour law standards, provides an important tool for facilitating the work of legislators, policy makers, judges and businesses from Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Member States in protecting the right of freedom of association and related rights in the region.
Civil society and human rights defenders will also be able to use the Guidance as an instrument to assist in asserting rights and for access to justice for violations.
“Workers in the ASEAN region face serious challenges exercising their right to freedom of association because of restrictive and abusive laws, policies and practices. The Guidance provides practical guidance to various stakeholders to ensure that the right to freedom of association is a reality for all workers in all settings in ASEAN,” said Livio Zilli, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor & UN Representative.
Since September 2019, the International Commission of Jurists and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre have been leading a working group to develop the Guidance, tailored to a regional application of international human rights law and standards, to reflect the particular human rights concerns in the region, and to empower grassroots labour rights movements in ASEAN Member States.
The development of the Guidance follows the consensus reached by a group of ASEAN lawyers and trade unionists in September 2019 to develop these guidelines to address the challenges faced in Southeast Asia on the exercise of freedom of association and other related rights, including the rights to freedom of assembly, expression and information, and rights to political participation and work.
The Guidance has benefitted from input and feedback from leading and independent experts at the grassroots, regional and international levels. These experts include the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and representatives from AmerBON, Advocates, ASEAN Trade Union Council, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance, International Center for Not-For-Profit Law, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Manggagawa ng Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas, National Independent Federation Textile Union, Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan, Pro Bono & Advisory Law Group and Solidarity Center.
The Guidance on Freedom of Association of Workers in ASEAN will be launched on 15 November 2021 in a virtual event.
The event will be moderated by Livio Zilli, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor & UN Representative. Daron Tan, ICJ Legal Consultant and Pochoy Labog, BHRRC Southeast Asia Researcher and Representative will introduce the principles and guidelines in the Guidance.
The event will also feature a panel discussion to discuss the challenges workers in ASEAN face in exercising their right to freedom of association and other freedoms and highlight the greater obstacles workers from marginalized and disadvantaged groups face in realizing their human rights, from international, regional, and grassroots perspectives. The panelists will also discuss how the Guidance can be a useful advocacy tool to ensure that the right to freedom of association is a reality for all workers in all settings in ASEAN.
The panellists include:
- Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association;
- Professor Dr. Amara Pongsapich, Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights;
- Shanti Uprety, Programme Manager, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific; and
- Benjamin Velasco, International Officer, Partido Manggagawa.
The full text of the Guidance on Freedom of Association of Workers in ASEAN is available for download here (English).
Watch the video explainer on Guidance on Freedom of Association of Workers in ASEAN, available in 8 languages.
Daron Tan, ICJ Legal Consultant, e: daron.tan(a)icj.org
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