The United States Supports Annual Youth Debate on Human Rights for ASEAN Countries

Bangkok, September 7, 2017.

On September 6, 2017, The Chargé d’affaires of the United States Mission to ASEAN, Ambassador Daniel Shields, attended the 4th Annual ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Youth Debate awards ceremony at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. A distinguished panel of judges selected the five top youth debaters out of forty participants from all 10 ASEAN countries:

  • Catherine, University of Indonesia

Best debater for debate motion 1: To promote women’s rights, a quota system to include equal proportion of women should become mandatory.

  • Patrich Limpiado Lozano, De La Salle Univerity, Philippines

Best debater for debate motion 2: Economic growth and not human rights must be the key goal of ASEAN development.

  • Marina Kathleen Labitag Lim, De La Salle University, Philippines

Best debater for debate motion 3: Citizens of ASEAN should have the right to work in all Member States.

  • Nitchakarn Pongcharoen, Thammasat University, Thailand

Best debater for debate motion 4: Environmental damage should be treated as a Human Rights Violation.

  • Yang Xinyan, National University of Singapore

Best debater for debate motion 5: ASEAN should NOT establish a Human Rights Court that can issue enforceable judgments.

As the next generation of leaders in ASEAN, these forty youth debaters represent the future aspirations of the youth in ASEAN, who are calling for improved rights and economic and political equality for all ASEAN citizens. During the debates, the students expressed their views on various human rights issues in the region, from the establishment of a human rights court, to economic growth, to women’s rights, and environmental protection.

“These students are part of a broader community of young leaders who inspire all ASEAN citizens to think more critically about human rights issues across the region,” said Ambassador Shields. “The United States is proud to support this activity, and we are confident that this will contribute to building a stronger ASEAN,” he added.

This year’s debate theme was “Forging Ahead Together toward a Sustainable Community. The debates were hosted by AICHR Thailand, and additional support was provided by the Thai Ministry of Education, Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University Law School. Also attending the debates were diplomats from across ASEAN, university and high school students and teachers from Thailand, and members of the international community.

“This is the 4th time AICHR has gathered youth together to debate the most pressing human rights issues of the day,” said H.E. Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Representative of Thailand to the AICHR. “This year’s competition was particularly festive as we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN,” he added.

The United States partners with ASEAN to support economic integration, expand maritime cooperation, cultivate emerging leaders, promote opportunity for women and address transnational challenges. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) cooperation with ASEAN, the U.S. helps address the root causes of poverty and instability and helps to lay foundations of prosperity and security. The United States and ASEAN celebrate 40 years of partnership in 2017, marking a deepened collaboration under the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.

For additional information, please visit the U.S. Mission to ASEAN website or contact USAID ASEAN Communications Officer Janice Laurente at