Human Rights and South East Asia

Speakers: Anthony J. Langois (Flinders University), Ken Setiawan (Leiden University), Avery Poole (The University of Melbourne).


Sow Keat Tock


The emergence of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights in 2009 was said to have marked a radical change in the region's engagement with human rights issues. This panel brings together two complementary perspectives to evaluate this development and the state of human rights in the region.

Anthony Langlois (Flinders University) critically assesses how we might regard the idea of human rights as it now becomes more concretely institutionalised regionally. In particular, he analyses how institutionalisation interacts with the various kinds of politics which are traditionally associated with human rights in and beyond the region: the politics of universal values;practices of political dissent and participation; ideas of emancipation;and so on. Aside from considering how the multiple meanings of human rights might change, the paper will also suggest a possible research programme to track the development of this new institution.

Ken Setiawan (Leiden University) evaluates the extent to which two national human rights institutions (KOMNAS HAM in Indonesia and SUHAKAM in Malaysia) have been able to further the realisation of human rights at national and local levels. She focuses on how these organisations have approached the international human rights framework and the key issues that have shaped these institutions'performances and effectiveness. In comparing the experiences of KOMNAS HAM and SUHAKAM, this paper will offer insights into the role and potential of these organisations and NHRIs in general.

Avery Poole, is a Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social and Political Sciences.