On 12-13 November, APHR hosted its inaugural Members’ Forum in Bali, Indonesia. The event was attended by 25 members from eight countries and featured lively discussions among participants about the future of democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia, the ability of APHR to push ASEAN to respond to critical situations and developments, and how APHR’s internal mechanisms should function. As the largest gathering of APHR members to date, the Forum marked a significant milestone in the evolution of APHR.
The first day of the event included two discussions, one on “Confronting Closing Space for Civil Society and Opposition Voices,” and one on “Safeguarding Human Rights in the Context of ASEAN Integration.” Members assessed the state of democracy and human rights protections in their own countries, as well as regionally, and shared experiences from their own country contexts. They also discussed the role of ASEAN in furthering regional rights protections and assessed the performance current regional human rights architecture.
The second day, participants delved into the internal workings of APHR as an organization, discussing ways to strengthen APHR’s programs and advocacy initiatives. The program included a panel discussion, where active APHR members shared how the organization has strengthened and supported their own national and regional advocacy efforts. Small group discussions also allowed members to make specific proposals for future organizational activities and issues of focus.
The Forum’s participants hailed from eight countries total: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.