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Governance and Human Rights
Good governance includes respect for the rule of law, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, including anti-corruption, and human rights. In 2008, ASEAN’s leaders pledged their commitment to good governance in the signing of the ASEAN Charter, and formerly made a commitment to promote and protect human rights in the by establishing the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009.

As part of its Global Citizens Initiative, the SIIA undertakes research in good governance and human rights, recognising their role in positively contributing to Singapore and ASEAN’s internal processes of change. By raising awareness of human rights, the SIIA hopes to promote critical reflection on domestic issues and active participation in delineating the values and standards that should govern Singapore and the ASEAN community.

SIIA researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard blogs regularly on human rights issues in the region at www.rightswriter.wordpress.com.
Human Rights and Business
Business related human rights abuses are a cause of concern in the ASEAN region. Types of abuses that have surfaced include the abusive treatment of migrant workers, breaches of labour standards in various industries, and degradation of the environment and violation of indigenous peoples rights as a result of extractive industries and palm oil operations. Oftentimes, victims of corporate related abuses seem to have had little protection from the state and limited avenues for raising their grievances or gaining access to remedy when abuses occur.

The SIIA is taking part in the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN’s (HRRCA) Baseline Study on Business and Human Rights in the ASEAN Region, due to be completed by the end of 2012. The study is centred on the UN approved Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and will provide a comparative analysis of the duty of the State to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises in ASEAN. The first study of its kind, the SIIA is undertaking the Singapore section of the report.
Trafficking in Persons
Although a universal definition of trafficking is still lacking, the characterisation of trafficking as the transport of persons, by means of coercion, deception, or consent for the purpose of exploitation such as forced or consensual labour or prostitution, as defined in the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons has been adopted by Singapore. A business and human rights issue, trafficking affects migrant workers in particular.

The SIIA has supported anti-trafficking efforts in Singapore for a number of years. In 2011, the SIIA was part of the Singapore government’s Trafficking in Persons Inter-Agency Taskforce Consultations, a dialogue which aimed to involve stakeholders in Singapore’s anti-trafficking efforts. The consultation, together with other work by inter-governmental agencies culminated in the release of the first National Plan of Action National by the government in March 2012. Included in the plan to combat human trafficking over the next four years is Singapore’s strategy to implement the 4 P’s: Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnership. SIIA is currently part of ongoing efforts to assist and monitor the implementation of the plan.
Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves the review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. Started in 2008, the UPR is based on the principle of equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what they have done to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists.

Singapore was reviewed at the 11th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 6, 2011. SIIA participated in this review process, submitting a stakeholder report. Singapore will next appear before the Human Rights Council for its second UPR review in January 2016.
Related Links
• Sep 24 2012
   UN General Assembly begins annual session, Middle East on agenda
• Myanmar: President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi visit US; investment law stalls; foreign delegation visits Singapore
• Myanmar: Buddhist monks march in support of anti-Rohingya plan

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