A selective approach to establishing a human rights mechanism in South East Asia: The case for a Southeast Asian court of human rights
This dissertation proposes a selective approach to be adopted among more advanced states in terms of human rights protection to establish a court of human rights for Southeast Asia. It argues that the inclusive approach currently employed by ASEAN to set up a human rights body covering all ASEAN member states cannot produce a strong regional human rights mechanism. The mixed picture of Southeast Asia reveals great diversity and high complexity in terms of political regimes, human rights practice and participation by regional states into the global legal human rights framework. ASEAN cooperation in protecting and promoting human rights remains limited. The time-honored principle of non-interference and the "ASEAN Way" still figure dominantly in the relations within ASEAN. These factors combine to explain why a human rights body for all ASEAN states, once established, will not be really strong and effective in producing important changes in terms of regional human rights protection and promotion. The dissertation makes the case for a selective approach to establishing a human rights court for Southeast Asia. It suggests that there exists a group of nations that may be willing to consider the possibility of a stronger human rights mechanism. It investigates the challenges to and the feasibility of the proposal. It examines the rational design of each of the three existing regional human rights courts in Europe, Americas and Africa and relates the rationales for those institutional designs with the specific context of Southeast Asia. A human rights court for all ASEAN members, as the dissertation argues, is not possible at this time, but a court for some nations in the region is feasible and worth exploring. The way toward this goal is never an easy one; however, the region is possessing conditions to gradually translate that goal into reality.