ASEAN lawyers & trade unionists agree to develop a regional guideline on freedom of association in conference organised by ICJ and BHRRC

Author: International Commission of Jurists, Published on: 15 September 2019

"ASEAN lawyers and trade unionists agree to develop regional guidelines on freedom of association of workers in the ASEAN," 03 September 2019

From 1 and 2 September 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly, Clément Nyaletsossi VOULE, and lawyers and trade union representatives met and discussed challenges faced in Southeast Asia on exercising the right to freedom of association of workers.

 The event was organized by the ICJ together with Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), and supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

...[T]he participants reached a consensus to work for the development regional guidelines on freedom of association of workers in the ASEAN and agreed to form a Working Group that would be tasked to develop these guidelines. The Working Group nominated by the participants is composed of trade union representatives at the national level, lawyers, among other experts.

In his keynote speech, the Special Rapporteur emphasized that freedom of association is a fundamental right for all workers without which they lack the power to fight discrimination and injustice in the workplace...

The participants at the meeting were practicing lawyers from Southeast Asia focusing on labor and employment and trade unions leaders and representatives... 

...[T]he participants also discussed the role of women in labour organizing and the additional challenges women face when they exercise the right to freedom of association in the workplace. Betty Yolanda, Asia Regional Manager of the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) said: “Women workers face multiple forms of discrimination and challenges. They are fighting for their rights as workers in the company and at the same time they are also fighting the patriarchy.”

The participants identified common challenges confronted in the region where workers’ rights to freedom of association face legal and physical limitations. Migrant workers, women workers and workers in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were identified as being particularly at risk in exercising their rights.


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