UN Women Regional Project on Regional Mechanisms to Protect the Human Rights of Women and Girls in Southeast Asia

Project Duration: April 2010 – March 2014
Budget: USD 2.95 million
Donor: Canadian International Development Agency


The ASEAN Charter adopted in 2007 committed ASEAN member states to establish a regional human rights body. The Terms of Reference (TOR) of this body was adopted by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in July 2009, and this body named the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was inaugurated in October 2009 during the 15th ASEAN Summit. 

Prior to adoption of the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN member states had already agreed to establish an ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) signed in 2004. Up until the adoption of the ASEAN Charter, little progress had been made by member states on the establishment of ACWC, but with the ASEAN Charter, a new momentum was created for discussion on ACWC. Between 2008-2009, several working group meetings to elaborate on a TOR for ACWC were held, and the TOR was eventually endorsed by the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD) in October 2009. The ACWC was launched on 7 April 2010 during the 16th ASEAN Summit meeting.

About the project

The Project aims to support the new ASEAN human rights bodies – AICHR and ACWC – in promoting the rights of women and children among ASEAN member states and facilitating the realization of gender equality and women’s human rights in the region as per the member state commitments to CEDAW. The Project will focus on capacity building of AICHR, ACWC, their secretariats and civil society networks and organizations, particularly the regional network of gender advocates, to contribute towards an effective AICHR and ACWC that uses their mandate to the full extent possible to promote and protect women’s human rights in the region.

  • Long term outcome:
    Women's and girl’s rights are better protected in ASEAN member countries
  • Immediate Outcomes of the Project:
  1. AICHR and ACWC adopt programmes and dialogue mechanisms that effectively promote and protect human rights of women and girls,
  2. Enhanced capacity of national and regional women’s groups and NHRIs to engage with AICHR and ACWC and advocate with them on the women’s human rights issues that need to be addressed at the regional level,
  3. The Secretariats for AICHR and ACWC within the ASEAN Secretariat provides effective support to the respective Commissions that they serve in addressing women’s human rights issues.

Project Strategy

UN Women will employ the following strategies in this project:

1) Support the generation of knowledge and evidence base on the situation of women’s human rights, including good practices, in ASEAN region and the extent of discrimination against women towards creating a greater understanding of special areas of attention needed on women’s rights.

This will include;

  • Supporting in-depth research on women’s human rights in the region and good practices to provide baseline information on the situation of women’s human rights in ASEAN.
  • Supporting thematic studies of AICHR and/or ACWC and women’s groups on particular issues of concern in the region will also be supported

2) Develop the capacity of AICHR and ACWC, their secretariat, NHRIs and civil society gender advocates to operationalize a regional human rights mechanism that will effectively protect women’s rights and promote gender equality.

This will include;

  • Increasing the substantive knowledge and understanding of AICHR, ACWC representatives and secretariat staff on women’s human rights principles, and women’s situation in the region
  • Developing institutional structure and working mechanisms of the two bodies that will enable the bodies to effectively address priority human rights issues.
  • Supporting civil society women’s groups to expand their network, consolidate their advocacy positions and collectively engage with ASEAN and the human rights bodies.

3) Support institutionalization of constructive dialogues between the human rights bodies, governments and civil society partners.

This will include;

  • Dialogue among AICHR, ACWC and other ASEAN specialized bodies
  • Dialogue between AICHR, ACWC, civil societies and NHRIs
  • Dialogue between International HR treaty bodies, AICHR and ACWC

Project Partners 

  • ASEAN Human Rights Bodies: AICHR, ACWC
  • ASEAN Secretariat
  • ACW and SOM-SDW
  • Southeast Asian Women’s Caucus on the ASEAN
  • Southeast Asia NHRI Forum (SEANF) and its members NHRIs
  • UN Agencies and development partners: OHCHR, UNICEF, UNDP, SEARCH project 

For more information on the project, contact UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme.  Email: [ Click to reveal ]


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