LIAM ROGERS WRITES — On December 15, 1997, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced their ASEAN VISION 2020, which outlined different goals for the countries of ASEAN (Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, Kingdom of Cambodia, Republic of Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Republic of Singapore, Republic of the Philippines, Kingdom of Thailand and Socialist Republic of Vietnam) in which they planned to meet by the year 2020. In particular, they dictated how they hope to increase human development in the region so as to diminish poverty, increase education and overall uplift their economies.
Specifically, the ASEAN nations plan for an international community “where all people enjoy equitable access to opportunities for total human development regardless of gender, race, religion, language, or social and cultural background.” There is a problem, however: each of the countries within ASEAN, as Amnesty International reports, must be scrutinized for possible human rights violations against the groups that they specified.
Half of the nations (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Viet Nam) have been cited for human rights violations against women. Four of the nations (Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore) continue to consider being a member of the LGBTQ+ community as a criminal offence. Malaysia has been cited with religious persecution. Myanmar is still oppressing the Rohingya people. And every country within ASEAN must be held accountable for their lack of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
The people of ASEAN were promised “total human development” by the year 2020. We are now halfway through the year and the goals outlined appear nowhere near reachable. That must change. Each nation of ASEAN must be held accountable for the promises made to their peoples in 1997.