Selected regional developments in human rights and democratisation in the Asia Pacific during 2016: Been ‘down’ so long, it looks like ‘up’ from here

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Hayes, Mike
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Global Campus
This report card of protecting human rights and advancing democracy in the Asia Pacific during the year 2016 is mixed. On the one hand, the year will be remembered for the brutal actions in the Philippines war on drugs and the mass expulsion of the Rohingya. These severe events all occurred in democratic countries with strong popular support, demonstrating how democracy is manipulated to take away the rights of some groups. The fabricated security threats are used to solidify a political base and win elections. On the other hand, there were also other landmarks in 2016, such as 11 ratifications of human rights treaties across the region, and successful court cases. In the coming years, human rights defenders may see these developments as a turning point. Treaty ratification and the activities of the UN special procedures are positive signs for human rights protection, although actual implementation is critical. States have embraced instruments with which they are comfortable, but on other matters, such as political rights and freedom of expression, they remain more reluctant. In the context of these significant threats to human rights, there is disappointment that regional mechanisms (in particular, ASEAN, SAARC and PIF) did little, and it was left to the UN to monitor and coax Asia Pacific states to act in protecting rights. Key words: Duterte’s war on drugs; expulsion of Rohingya, rise of religious extremism; ratification of human rights treaties; ASEAN; SAARC; PIF
drug prevention, drug control, Asia-Pacific region, Rohingya, expulsion, Philippines, religious fundamentalism, treaties, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum, ethnic discrimination
M Hayes ‘Selected regional developments in human rights and democratisation in the Asia Pacific during 2016: Been down so long, it looks like up from here’ (2017) 1 Global Campus Human Rights Journal 535

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