Bangkok Statement on Vienna+10
Asian NGOs Consultation on Vienna+10
10 Years after 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights
15 to 16 December, 2003
United Nations Conference Center (UNCC),
UN/ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand
“We affirm the universality, individuality, interdependence and
interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms,
including the right to development, as enshrined
in the Vienna Declaration.”1
1. We, over 130 participants of the Asian NGOs Consultation on Vienna+10 (Asian Consultation),
representing local, national, regional and international NGOs and civil society organisations from more
than 20 countries of the Asian region and the rest of the world gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, from 15
to 16 December 2003, to assess the human rights situation for the last 10 years in the region in light of
the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) which was the outcome of the World
Conference on Human Rights (WCHR) held in Vienna in June 1993.
2. The Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) and the Conference of NGOs in
consultative relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) Working Group convened the Asian
Consultation on Asia (WGOA) in partnership with many other human rights organisations in the
region. It was held at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the UN Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
3. The WCHR was an historical milestone giving birth to some of the most important developments in
recent history of international human rights in terms of creation of human rights mechanisms, such as
the post of the UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights in 1994, the United Nations Decade for
Human Rights Education in 1994, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 2 in 1998 and the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2001, and the creation of the National Human Rights
Institutions (NHRI) in many countries.3
4. The WCHR was an occasion to give conceptual clarification regarding universality, indivisibility and
interdependence of all human rights while emphasizing the interrelatedness of human rights,
democracy and development. From this, it became clear to all human rights defenders that the
advocacy of human rights was neither an encroachment on national sovereignty nor interference in
internal affairs, and international law prevailed over national law.
5. We studied new emerging challenges identified during 2001 in Durban, at the third World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), in the context
of globalisation, where capital flows freely while the freedom of movement of people is severely
restricted. The situation of the post “September 11” and foreign occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq
Paragraph No 3 of the WSIS-3/GENEVA/DOC/4-E adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS) held in Geneva on 12 December 2003.
The full name of the declaration is Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and
Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
In Asia, many national human rights institutions have been established since the WCHR in 1993 in
the following countries and region; India 1993, Iran 1995, Hong Kong 1996, Sri Lanka 1997, Fiji
1999, Malaysia 2000, Nepal 2000, Thailand 2000, Mongolia 2001, South Korea 2001 and
remains a serious challenge and threat to the fundamental principles of multi-lateralism and
international rule of law.
6. Looking critically at the different roles of the governments, UN and NGOs, we NGOs, with deep
regret and disappointment, witness the absence of political will on the part of the UN and its member
states to uphold their commitments made at the WCHR. In that sense, the Asian Consultation was a
special effort by human rights NGOs to revive the VDPA by taking stock of positive developments
and achievements as well as setbacks, by identifying stumbling blocks and obstacles so as to move
forward the global human rights agenda both nationally and globally.
7. The Asian Consultation was indeed a stepping-stone for human rights NGOs in the region towards the
implementation of the VDPA at all levels even beyond the year of Vienna+10. It was a precious
moment for human rights defenders from diverse generations and fields of human rights to reflect
upon and share their collective memory of the WCHR. It was revealed during the two-day
deliberations, that the VDPA continues to be a source of inspiration for better cooperation within the
human rights community and movement in the region.
8. The Asian Consultation critically looked at the overall situation of human rights in light of the VDPA
and Bangkok NGOs Declaration 1993. The thematic workshops organized for the participants
addressed specific issues related to civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the
right to development, human rights education, the rights of specific groups such as workers, women,
children, indigenous peoples and minorities as well as discrimination based on work and descent /
Key Challenges of Vienna+10
9. We view that some level of achievements have been accomplished in the various areas of civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights during the past decade. We, in particular, recognise and
applaud the end of the occupation of East Timor and its formal entry into the international community.
And yet the deteriorating human rights situations in many parts of the region such as Burma, Indonesia
and Nepal remain grave concerns for the human rights community in the region.
10. We observe that our countries share many similar problems concerning human rights, particularly due
to the adverse impact of economic globalisation. The financial crisis erupted in 1997 in some East
Asian countries indicated the chronic structural problems caused by the economic development model
led by so-called neo-liberal ideology. The economic policies on trade and investment supported by
International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) favoured the
interest of Transnational Corporations (TNCs) rather than the majority of the people in the region. It is
claimed that economic globalisation has created more wealth but in reality a gap between the rich and
the poor countries, and inequality within the country has widened. It has also aggravated poverty
creating new forms of extreme poverty.
11. We witness the fact that, despite emergence of democratic governance and civil society in some Asian
countries, repressive legislations such as the Internal Security Law (ISA) and National Security Law
(NSL) under authoritarianism still prevail in many countries. Nuclear armament and excessive
military spending has become a new threat to human security and rights especially in South and
12. We note with deep concerns that terrorism is now taken to be any premeditated and unlawful act of
violence against innocent people or non-combatants irrespective of its cause or motive. It has
encouraged militarism, obscure notions of patriotism and a distinct shift towards repressive anti-
terrorist legislation without integrating universally recognized international norms and standards.
While we condemn all forms of terrorism, there is an urgent need to address the root-causes of
Major findings of these workshops are attached as appendix.
terrorism within the region and the countries in the region incorporating adequate measures for the
promotion and protection of human rights.
13. We welcome the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) this year following the
adoption of the Rome Statue in 1998. However, impunity remains a serious challenge to the human
rights community in the region.
14. We acknowledge that even though many governments have ratified and acceded to a number of core
international treaties, they fail to fulfil their obligations and implement them with due diligence. We
are dismayed that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which entered into force
in 1976, almost three decades ago, have not been signed by some governments in Asia.5 There is an
urgent need to develop effective monitoring mechanisms on the ground to improve the effectiveness of
the treaty body mechanisms.
15. In conclusion, our overall assessment of the human rights situation in the region 10 years after the
WCHR is far from satisfactory despite some positive signs of hope. Therefore, the situations identified
during the Asian Consultation continue to pose serious challenges to people and peoples’ aspirations
and towards full enjoyment of their rights to peace, security, development and democracy.
Way Forward Beyond Vienna+10
16. This consultation initiates, rather than ends, our assessment of the implementation of the VDPA in the
region and creates a new momentum to work together more vigorously beyond the year of Vienna+10.
17. In this spirit, we call for the convening of a special UN Conference on Human Rights in 2008 to
commemorate the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(UDHR) and the appraisal of the implementation of the VDPA needs to be on the agenda.
18. Finally, we commit ourselves to the tasks listed below by establishing an appropriate facilitating
mechanism in the region in partnership with UN and governments to launch effective actions to realize
the provisions of the VDPA which continues to challenge us to be more creative and courageous in
making human and people’s rights for all a reality.
General Guidelines for Action
Recalling the VDPA and the UN Millennium Declaration which states “We will spare no effort to promote
democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights
and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development”,6
Recalling the Declaration of Principles of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which
states “We affirm the universality, individuality, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and
fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration.”7
We urge all governments in Asia to:
a. Ratify or accede to the core human rights treaties8, optional protocols9 , and other relevant
human rights conventions, especially the UN Convention on Migrant Workers10 and the Rome
They are Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore
Paragraph No 24 of UN GA Resolution 55/2 of 8 September 2000
Paragraph No 3 of the WSIS-3/GENEVA/DOC/4-E of 12 December 2003
The core human rights treaties are referred to the following six; International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICESCR), International Convention
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without any reservation, if they have not
done so, as a matter of top priority;
b. Withdraw without further delay any reservations to the human rights instruments to which they
c. Give force, with immediate effect, to the provisions of international human rights instruments
in domestic law and more importantly remedy in practice;
d. Support urgent adoption of Optional Protocol to International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights, draft Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearance, and the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
e. Diligently fulfil their reporting obligations to the human rights treaty bodies and effectively
implement the recommendations of those treaty bodies nationally;
f. Establish National Human Rights Institutions as soon as possible, if they have not done so, as
recommended by VDPA in accordance with the Paris Principles;
g. Make more efforts to create effective regional human rights mechanisms in accordance with
h. Issue the standing invitation to special procedures of the UN Commission on Human Rights if
they have not done so;
i. Develop National Action Plan (NAP), as recommended by VDPA.
j. Recognise the important role of NGOs in the promotion and protection of all human rights at
all levels in the light of Declaration on Human Right Defenders and to co-operate with the
Special Representative of Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; and
k. Support the adoption of the resolution on a UN Second Decade for Human Rights Education
and its proclamation and a UN second Decade on the World’s Indigenous People.
We request UNESCAP and UN Specialized Agencies, Programmes, Funds and other human right-related
bodies in the region to:
a. Make NGO participation an integral component of their orientation and structure at all levels:
national, regional and international;
b. Integrate human rights approaches and frameworks to the realisation of Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) within the region; and
c. Allocate more resources to build capacity of NGOs for greater participation and advocacy.
We request the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to:
a. Establish effective mechanisms for the implementation of international human rights standards
such as VDPA, by allocating more human and financial resources towards a more substantial
field presence at national and sub-regional levels in the Asian region; and
b. Enhance the monitoring capacity of the OHCHR by developing adequate human rights
indicators and program of human rights impact assessment.
We request National Human Rights Institutions to:
a. Carry out their mandates according to the Paris Principles;
b. Be more accessible to people;
against Women (CERD), Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CAT) and Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC).
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-OP1), Second Optional
Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-OP2-DP), Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW-OP), Optional Protocol to
the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC-OP-AC), Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (CAT-
OP) and Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC-OP-SC).
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
c. Integrate and enhance participation of NGOs in their functions and structures;
d. Ensure gender balance in the composition of the Commissioners and its personnel;
e. Monitor the implementation of concluding observations and recommendations of the human
rights treaty bodies; and
f. Collaborate more closely with the Special Procedures of the UN Commission on Human
We invite Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the region to:
a. Promote greater accountability to the people we serve;
b. Work more closely for cross-sectoral co-operation among NGOs;
c. Cooperate more closely among NGOs and civil society organisations at local, national,
regional and global levels; and
d. Utilise fully all available UN human rights standards and procedures.
As amended by Drafting Committee after adoption on 17 December, 2003.
Mr Rashid Kang Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)
111 Sutthisarnwinichai Rd., Samsennok, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10320, Thailand
Tel (66-2) 2769 846–7 or 693-4940 / Fax (66-2) 693-4939
email@example.com / www.forumasia.org
Mr Seonghoon LEE (Anselmo) Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CONGO)
Working Group on Asia (WGOA)
C.P. 315, 15 Rue du Grand-Bureau, CH-1211, Geneva 24, Switzerland
Tel (41-22) 823 0707 / Fax (41-22) 823 0708
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.ngocongo.org
The Appendix contains main findings and concerns expressed during the following thematic
workshops organized during the Asian Consultation.
1. Civil and Political Rights
2. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development
3. Discrimination based on Work and Descent/Caste Discrimination
4. Workers’ Rights
5. Women’s Human Rights
6. Children’s Rights
7. Rights of Indigenous Peoples
8. Rights of Minorities
9. Human Rights Education
Civil and Political Rights
1. The Asian Consultation recalls that the ultimate responsibility for the promotion and protection
of civil and political rights rests with the governments. The Asian Consultation appeals to the
governments to consider human rights mechanisms not as condemnatory or undermining of state
sovereignty, but rather as necessary steps towards democratic governance.
2. The Asian Consultation calls upon all states to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) without reservations. We recognize that despite ratification by some
states, non-compliance to the provisions of the ICCPR remains a major threat to the human rights
of people in the region.
3. The Asian Consultation is concerned with the arbitrary detention of people as political prisoners,
who when detained are usually subjected to incidents of cruel and inhumane treatment including
4. The Asian Consultation welcomes the thematic mechanisms of the UN Commission on Human
Rights related to civil and political rights. States are not effectively supporting and enabling
public access to these mechanisms. We appreciate the establishment of the Special Procedures
Unit within the OHCHR.
5. The Asian Consultation welcomes the initiatives of the UN General Assembly and other bodies
towards addressing human rights concerns while adopting counter terrorism measures. Such
measures call for adequate monitoring both at the national and international levels to ensure
compliance with human rights standards.
6. The Asian Consultation views with alarm, the use of national security laws in the Asian region to
restrict the rights, freedoms and liberties of people, including political opponents, human rights
defenders and environmental activists. National security laws, which limit human rights and
fundamental freedoms, should be repealed.
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development
7. The Asian Consultation recognises the indivisibility and interdependence between civil and
political (CP) rights and economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. Both CP rights and ESC
rights should be equally promoted, implemented and protected within the States.
8. The Asian Consultation calls upon States to ratify the International Covenant on ESC rights
without reservations. It is the responsibility of governments to allocate sufficient resources for the
promotion of ESC rights, enactment of laws, implementation, and submission of country periodic
9. The Asian Consultation particularly welcomes that peace, security, stability and respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms including the right to development, as well as respect for
cultural diversity are essential for achieving sustainable development and ensuring that
sustainable development benefit all as agreed upon in the Plan of Implementation at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) at Johannesburg in 2002.
10. The Asian Consultation calls upon International Financial Institutions (IFIs), multilateral agencies
and governments to increase their budgetary allocations so as to provide necessary infrastructures
such as sanitation and clean water supplies and sufficient services to realise economic, social and
cultural rights. We suggest the incorporation of environmental and human rights impact
assessments into all projects.
11. The Asian Consultation recognizes that globalisation, trade liberalisation, privatisation and de-
regulation negatively affect human rights, such as the right to drinking water. These practices are
root causes of impoverishment that often impedes realisation of economic, social and cultural
12. The Asian Consultation calls for information and experience sharing of NGOs on strategies
regarding the full enjoyment of ESCR and improved advocacy.
Discrimination based on Work and Descent/Caste Discrimination
13. The Asian Consultation acknowledges and welcomes the Durban Declaration and Programme of
Action, which is the outcome of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR 2001), which
aims to eliminate all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
14. The Asian Consultation regrets that WCAR 2001 does not refer to discrimination based on work
and descent, specifically caste discrimination as observed in some countries in Asia, Africa and
in diaspora communities in the world. Studies conducted by independent experts of the Sub-
Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on Discrimination Based on
Work and Descent as well as thematic discussions of the Committee on Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) have clearly established the existence and recognition of discrimination
based on work and descent.
15. The Asian Consultation calls upon governments to implement CERD conclusions on
discrimination based on work and descent to ensure human rights.
16. The Asian Consultation calls for States to uphold the core rights according to the International
Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions and ICCPR provisions on worker’s rights.
17. The Asian Consultation recognises a discernible trend of reduction of worker’s rights, including
de-unionisation, restrictions on the right to strike and the imposition of harsh measures to control
18. The Asian Consultation is concerned with the plight of migrant workers, both nationally and
internationally, who are increasingly female, and the lack of States upholding their rights. The
Asian Consultation calls upon governments to ratify the Convention on Migrant Workers and to
adopt bilateral and multilateral measures within the region.
Women’s Human Rights
19. The Asian Consultation welcomes the recognition that women’s rights are human rights as
proclaimed in VDPA. The adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by 174 countries and adoption of the Optional
Protocol to CEDAW emphasises the successful impact of women’s advocacy.
20. The Asian Consultation suggests that all countries harmonise and make compatible national laws
to ensure implementation and enforcement of international human rights laws.
21. The Asian Consultation recognises an increase of crimes against women such as forced marriages,
arbitrary participation in combat and the exploitation of women throughout the Asian region. We
see a burgeoning need in the region for further involvement of all members of society in the
implementation and reporting of violations against women.
22. The Asian Consultation urges all UN agencies, governments and NGO’s to implement
programmes of action to mainstream women’s rights by integrating and utilising domestic
remedies and legal reforms. Increased participation of women in national and international
institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and National Human Rights
Institutions is sought.
23. The Asian Consultation urges NGO’s to recognise the importance of regional networks to expand
and share expertise of women groups, and to integrate gender issues into NGOs as significant to
advancement of women’s rights.
24. The Asian Consultation recognises need for the media to highlight women’s issues and promote
25. The Asian Consultation views children as owners of their own human rights. Despite States
ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), children who are entitled to the
right to life, an adequate standard of living, freedom from sexual and economic exploitation, and
health are increasingly threatened in the Asian region due to negative impacts of globalisation
and national policy changes.
26. The Asian Consultation asserts that parents, children, members of NGOs, governments, business,
and the general public be involved in creating national mechanisms for the protection and
promotion of the rights of the child. Children’s full participation in this process is encouraged
27. The Asian Consultation recommends wider public awareness of children’s human rights issues.
Crucial to this awareness is the recognition that children from different age groups have specific
needs requiring appropriate national policy frameworks of action.
28. The Asian Consultation recognises special challenges in providing adequate protection and
services for children affected by HIV/AIDS, used as soldiers, sexually exploited, in labour and
with disabilities. Girl children have been especially hindered in realising their rights.
29. The Asian Consultation acknowledges achievements made in health and education, specifically
reductions in the infant mortality rates, increased basic immunisations of children, and increased
school completion due to UNICEF campaigns in partnership with NGOs and media.
Rights of Indigenous Peoples
30. The Asian Consultation welcomes the proclamation of the International Decade of the World’s
Indigenous People (1995-2004), the establishment of the Permanent Forum within the Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the creation of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples
under the special procedures mechanism of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
31. The Asian Consultation views with grave concern undue delay in the adoption of the Draft
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN Commission on Human Rights
leaving unfinished one of the main objectives of the decade. Indigenous peoples remain without
specific international human rights, including land rights and the right to self-determination.
32. The Asian Consultation urges all member States of the UN Commission on Human Rights to
accelerate the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples at its 60 th
session of the Commission on Human Rights. The end of the International Decade is 2004. The
Asian Consultation asks all governments of the region to undertake adequate measures to
promote and protect indigenous peoples.
Rights of Minorities
33. The Asian Consultation on VDPA+10 is deeply concerned with threats to peace, security and
enjoyment of the rights of minorities – national, ethnic, religious and linguistic – in the Asian
region under all forms of governance where minorities are merely viewed as vote banks.
34. The Asian Consultation recognises that minorities are still subjected to systematic and consistent
patterns of gross violations and various forms of discrimination. In particular, majoritarianism
and various forms of religious extremism gravely threaten religious minorities. Women and
children from minority communities experience increased violent acts often leading to death.
35. The Asian Consultation regrets the lack of States’ commitment to the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992).
We urge all States to enact domestic legislation with adequate mechanisms, effective monitoring
and supervision for the promotion and protection of rights of all minorities.
36. The Asian Consultation on VDPA+10 urges member states of the UN Commission on Human
Rights to establish, as a matter of priority, a Special Rapporteur on Minorities under its special
procedure at its 60th session. The mandate should include provisions of access for all countries
to seek, to examine and to respond to relevant questions related to minorities with active co-
operation of minorities themselves. The Asian Consultation urges the Sub Commission (which
earlier included the appellation of Protection of Minorities) to continue its mandate concerning
minorities through the Working Group on Minorities.
37. The Asian Consultation of the VDPA+10 calls upon the governments of the Asian region to enact
relevant national legislation based on the UN Declaration on Minorities with national
mechanisms of implementation and supervision. These measures should include human rights
educational approaches to combat xenophobia and related intolerance faced by minorities.
Human Rights Education
38. The Asian Consultation asserts the importance of human rights education (HRE) and the need to
develop partnerships among NGOs, governments and the UN.
39. The Asian Consultation re-affirms the promotion of human rights education as an international
obligation of all UN State Members, and promotes continuation of national, regional and
international campaign framework for HRE.
40. The Asian Consultation stresses the need to develop better relations with the UN as well as
further political will of governments in taking concrete actions to develop effective strategies,
developing and revising relevant curricula and textbook within the school system as well as
extra-curricular activities, human rights training of school personnel, reaching out to families and
the community at large, human rights training of professionals working in the administration of
justice and officials working in the social and economic fields.
41. The Asian Consultation endorses the initiative to urge the UN Commission on Human Rights to
recommend to the UN General Assembly at its next session to proclaim a Second Decade for
HRE to begin in 2005, after the end of the current Decade (1995-2004), so as to keep HRE high
on the international agenda.
42. The Second Decade should include inter alia:
1) An international Plan of Action with the indication of minimum action for each country in
defined areas, accompanied by indicators for evaluation, and with the organisation of regular
periodic events to create momentum and continuity.
2) A system for monitoring advancements in each country.
3) Adequate resources to implement the Plan of Action, including the establishment of a
Voluntary Fund for HRE.
43. The Second Decade would ensure continuity of current actions and be an opportunity to initiate
programmes based on previous experiences of HRE while contributing to the implementation of
United Nations Declarations and Programmes of Action adopted at World Conferences.
- End -