Advocacy Dialogue on Engaging in U.N. Special Procedures
May 4 to 5, 2017
The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus organized Advocacy Dialogue on Engaging the UN Special Procedures from 4 to 5 May 2017. The workshop was organized for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) activists from countries in Southeast Asia to learn and appreciate the use of the Special Procedures, a system of independent human rights experts tasked with monitoring and reporting human rights violations.
“This initiative is part of our effort to help activists in the region engage with international mechanisms,” Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, explains. “Human rights defenders need to make use of every and any opportunity to hold their governments accountable for the issues they face.”
The workshop brought together LGBTIQ organizations from across Southeast Asia to assist them in drafting communications to these Special Procedures on various human rights issues. Part of the program was also opened to LGBTIQ activists to meet with Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, an international human rights expert and the first UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IESOGI).
“The workshop is very helpful to our advocacy work in terms of understanding the whole process and necessary preparation to be made in order to engage with the UN Special Procedures,” Cornelius Hanung, a member of Arus Pelangi, an LGBTIQ organization in Indonesia, explained during the workshop. “It is also gives us an opportunity to form a network with other with more experience. Most important, it made us aware that these Special Procedures can be accessed by anybody at any time as long as you know how.”
Some of the cases discussed were the rape of a gay man, the torture of a transgender woman by police forces, harassment of LGBTIQ persons, and the promotion of “conversion therapy” practices by government health institutions – incidences that occurred in various Southeast Asian countries.
Prof. Muntarbhorn, in his discussion of his mandate and work as the Independent Expert, left the participants with a key message: “Be heartened by the fact that we're together. We've come far. And we will face these difficulties positively. But we will not be frustrated. We will sustain the spirit.”
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 ASEAN SOGIE Caucus is a regional network of LGBTIQ organization in Southeast Asia working to strengthen cooperation and collaboration with LGBTIQ groups and mainstream of SOGIE issues into regional human rights mechanisms. [https://aseansogiecaucus.org]
 Established in 1952, the International Commission of Jurists is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, promoting and protecting human rights through the Rule of Law by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. [https://www.icj.org/]
 For more information on the UN Special Procedures, see the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx.