In a spirit of openness and tolerance, 100 officials and civil society representatives from 36 ASEM countries convened in Budapest, Hungary from 22nd-25th February, 2006 for the 7th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights, “Human Rights and Ethnic, Linguistic and Religious Minorities”. They exchanged views and perspectives on the state of play and best practices in the field of human rights of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities.
Hosted by the Central European University (CEU), whose social science curriculum places strong emphasis on human rights and democracy issues, the 7th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights is the latest in a series initiated on the occasion of the first meeting of ASEM Foreign Ministers in Singapore in February 1997 to promote mutual understanding and co-operation between Asia and Europe in the area of political dialogue, particularly on human rights issues.
Keynote speeches were delivered by Janette Cansing Serrano, Chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous peoples (the Philippines); and Rainer Hofmann, former President of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention on National Minorities of the Countries of Europe (Germany). The participants were divided into two working groups for in-depth discussions on civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights of minorities, respectively.
This meeting was significant as it resulted in four important main recommendations to the ASEM process, which were presented almost immediately after the meeting at the ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting in Vienna on 10th March, 2006.
Recommendation from 7th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights
Presented at the ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting
- Member states should make more use of ASEM to discuss minority rights due to the informal character of the ASEM process;
- Asian ASEM members could consider a regional instrument on human rights, in general, and minority rights, in particular;
- ASEM governments could utilise the sidelines of United Nations meetings and relevant ASEM ministerial meetings for further relevant discussions;
- ASEM is encouraged to consider becoming more active in the area of training and awareness-raising on minority rights issue.