More than 80 advocacy groups and people’s organizations from across the Southeast Asian region submitted letter-petitions for information disclosure to the ASEAN’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Citing important mandates from the ASEAN Charter, the groups requested the two bodies to share information related to their work on civil society accreditation and guidelines for engagement with civil society, the AICHR’s guidelines of operation, the terms of reference for the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and the terms of reference for the thematic study on Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Rights. According tho the letter-petitions, access to information is a first and necessary step towards meaningful people’s participation in ASEAN.
The letter-petitions were initiated by the Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (TF-AHR) and the Task Force on ASEAN FOI. TF-AHR seeks to promote genuine and meaningful dialogue and engagement between NGOs and the AICHR in promoting and protecting human rights. The TF on ASEAN FOI is an initiative to push for the recognition of the public’s right to know and access to information in ASEAN. These two Task Forces work under the SAPA Working Group on ASEAN, a collaboration among various NGOs, peoples’ movements, coalitions and campaign organizations that seek to engage ASEAN issues and processes. It has played an active role in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference, and works on specific advocacies on human rights, migrants’ rights, economic development and social justice, and democratization, among others.