This book reviews Southeast Asia's National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as part of an emerging assessment of a nascent regional human rights architecture that is facing significant challenges in protecting human rights. The book asks, can NHRIs overcome its weaknesses and provide protection, including remedies, to victims of human rights abuses? Assessing NHRIs' capacity to do so is vital as the future of human rights protection lies at the national level, and other parts of the architecture-the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the international mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)-though helpful, also have their limitations. The critical question the book addresses is whether NHRIs individually or collaboratively provide protection of fundamental human rights. The body of work offered in this book showcases the progress of the NHRIs in Southeast Asia where they also act as a barometer for the fluid political climate of their respective countries. Specifically, the book examines the NHRIs' capacity to provide protection, notably through the pursuit of quasi-judicial functions, and concludes that this function has either been eroded due to political developments post-establishment or has not been included in the first place. The book's findings point to the need for NHRIs to increase their effectiveness in the protection of human rights and invites readers and stakeholders to find ways of addressing this gap.
James Gomez is Regional Director, Asia Centre (Bangkok, Thailand and Johor Bahru, Malaysia) - a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to create human rights impact in the region. Dr.Gomez is a communications and human rights specialist having served in different academic and leadership roles in the last 25 years working for international NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, public and private universities, research institutes and think-tanks. He represents the Centre in media and public speaking engagements and builds relationships with key stakeholders around the world.
Robin Ramcharan is Executive Director, Asia Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. He specialises in human rights, intellectual property and security issues in Southeast Asia. Dr. Ramcharan is also Professor of International Relations with an extensive teaching and publications record. He has worked over the past two decades in the not-for profit sector, international organisations, the private sector and in research institutes and think tanks. In Bangkok, Dr. Ramcharan represents the Centre in interaction with external partners and oversees the various research and publication projects.