[JURIST] The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] is making slow progress in its efforts to set up a regional human rights watchdog, officials from the organization announced Friday. Representatives from the four member countries suggesting the establishment of the institution, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, met and discussed potential cooperation on issues including migrant worker protection, human trafficking and protecting terrorism for three days. While the representatives expressed hope that the discussion would serve as a foundation for the ultimate establishment of a human rights body within ASEAN, they also acknowledged the slow pace of the organization resulting from heavy bureaucracy and a desire of the ten member countries not to interfere in each other's internal affairs.
Last year Myanmar chose not to pursue the rotating regional chairmanship of ASEAN due to dissatisfaction from western nations with regard its human rights record. In the meantime, the four countries have vowed to encourage those members without a human rights watchdog to establish their own independent oversight organizations. AP has more.