Friday, November 23, 2007

The toothless tiger

By Achara Ashayagachat

Thailand's next government becomes chairman of Asean and inherits a big mess over what to do with the hot potato of Burma after the group missed its opportunity to confront the problem squarely.

With the end of the 13th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore Thursday, and despite plaudits from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres after the signing of its charter, Asean in fact has become less united.

Due to Burmese pressure, Asean's plans to create a region-wide human rights-checking mechanism turned into a disgraceful flop, as the new body will have no powers to investigate any human rights abuses in the region.

The agreement in Singapore has already drawn criticism from many civic society organisations as they see that it actually protects human rights violators such as the Burmese junta.

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