A new human rights commission was launched by Southeast Asian nations today at a summitt in Hua Hin, Thailand, according to Al Jazeera.
The Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights will be able to promote human rights, according to the New York Times, but will not be able to investigate governments or impose sanctions.
The commission has already faced hostility from the powerful, with the governments of governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore refusing to meet with nominated representatives today.
Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian representatives refused to attend, while the remaining representatives, many of whom were chosen by their governments, were not allowed to speak at the meeting, according to Malaysian national news agency Bernama.com.
Yuyun Wahyuningrum, an Indonesian human rights delegate who walked out of a meeting with government representatives today, told the New York Times that human rights groups supported the creation of the commission, but were concerned that it was not independent enough, with commissioners chosen by governments without outside consultation.
Rafendi Djamin, of the Asean Human Rights Commission, told Al Jazeera: "Everything cannot be done instantaneously. Yes, criticisms will arise, but the need to pay attention to human rights is vital, and the commission will be in its development stages for some time to come."
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand, who formally launched the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, said that US$200,000 is available to fund the body.
As Al-Jazeera reminds me, Asea includes an absolute monarchy, a dictatorship and two communist states, while the host city of Thailand has deployed tens of thousands of soliders and police both in Bangkok and Hua Hin in order to prevent anti-government protesters storming the venue as they did in at the East Asian Summitt in Pattaya.
Let us hope the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights does make a difference.