ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights 6th Annual Youth Debate on Human Rights

September 18-20, 2019
Royal Sheraton Orchid Hotel and Towers, Bangkok, Thailand

Through the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project, the U.S. Government is supporting the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) 6th Annual Youth Debate in partnership with the Government of Thailand and the private sector. The debate provides an opportunity for university students from ASEAN Member States to build their knowledge and skillfully engage with one another on the most pressing human rights issues facing the region within the framework of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and Phnom Penh Statement. The debate also serves as a platform for youth to voice their generation’s aspirations and ideas for promoting human rights directly with ASEAN officials and human rights experts from the region. This year, the theme of the debate mirrored that of Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship, “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.” Twenty-seven university students were selected from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam to join this year’s debate.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Nataphol Teepsuwan, Thailand’s Minister of Education stressed the importance of learning the art of debate for the future leaders of ASEAN: “Many of you will be the future leaders of your country… this event is a great platform for all of you to practice and learn [debate], as the future leaders of ASEAN.” He went on to stress the relationship-building aspects of the annual debate program: “I see many of you are sitting in groups with your country team members, but by the end of the session I hope you’ll be sitting with each other and sharing knowledge with each other.”

In her opening remarks, Ms. Laura Pavlovic, Director of General Development Office from USAID’s Regional Development Mission to Asia, expressed the importance of learning from one another during this experience: “The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development, is proud to continue our partnership with ASEAN in catalyzing this exciting youth debate. Through the program, youth will better recognize diversity as a strength of ASEAN and learn firsthand the importance of close partnerships and teamwork through collaboration within their cross-national debate teams.”
Along with their respective AICHR representatives, students will participate in a three-day program of debate motions, special talks on sustainable development and human rights, and site visits to the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability. On the final day, students will form cross-national teams and compete across five debate motions. The winning team will be announced on September 20th.