Promotional Versus Protective Design: The Case of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
This paper examines the role of international human rights institutions and their designs, by bringing to bear evidence from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). It draws attention to the distinction between the protective and the promotional design aspects of this institution, showing that the AICHR is, by design, not a protective mechanism. The paper argues, however, that the significance of the AICHR’s promotional function should not be dismissed. The paper identifies a number of promotional initiatives that the AICHR has undertaken in its first ten years of operation, including developing regional human rights standards, spreading human rights norms, and facilitating dialogues and debates across ASEAN on the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities. The promotional work of the Commission, albeit still limited in scope, can provide the initial foundation for the long-term goal of building a protective human rights mechanism for Southeast Asia.