8–10 November 2018: Research Associate Melissa Loja Presents Paper at 2018 ASIL Research Forum in Los Angeles
At the 2018 American Society of International Law (ASIL) research forum, Research Associate Melissa Loja presented her paper ‘Recent Engagement with International Human Rights Norms by Courts in Southeast Asia: New Challenges to Human Rights Theories’.
She discussed that in recent cases involving arbitration and judicial immunity, Singapore courts relied on European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) norms; Malaysia’s Court of Appeal based two decisions on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), despite lack of legislative incorporation; the Philippine Supreme Court applied the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (CPPED), which the government had repeatedly refused to ratify; and Indonesia’s Constitutional Court invoked UN human rights instruments to justify the ex post facto prosecution of the past regime for human rights violations.
This engagement with international human rights norms has three distinctive features: 1) preference for ECHR norms over AHRD norms; 2) subversion of the ethos of human rights; and 3) lack of indication that the courts see themselves as agents of an exogenous regional or global normative order.
These distinctive features cannot be adequately explained by the main universalist, pluralist and institutionalist/neo-institutionalist paradigms about international human rights norms and their application by domestic courts. A re-examination of these paradigms is imperative.