Asean human rights body urges member nations to commit to transboundary haze agreement

Danial Dzulkifly
An aerial view of George Town on a hazy afternoon is seen from the Komtar building September 11, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — Four representatives of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has called on its member nations to fully commit to its agreement on transboundary haze.

In a joint media statement today, AICHR representatives from Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand urged Asean state members to acknowledge transboundary haze as a danger to basic human rights which bears long term adverse effects if not seriously addressed.

“Poor air quality affects the quality of life of the individuals living in the Asean region. It also impinges upon the enjoyment of a range of human rights that are protected in the 2012 Asean Human Rights Declaration.

“These include the right to life and the right to the highest attainable standard of health and an adequate standard of living, which includes the right to a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

“We call for Asean and its Member States to fully and effectively implement the AATHP and revisit the Roadmap on Asean Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation with its vision to be haze-free by 2020. We urge all Member States to work together for a more effective and sustainable solution to the haze and to ensure that all citizens can enjoy their human rights to the fullest,” said the statement.

AATHP refers to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution which was signed in 2002.

The agreement seeks to end the annual recurring problem of transboundary haze following severe land and forest fires within the region in 1997 and 1998.

While the AICHR acknowledged the effort done by member countries to address the issue, it called for stronger collaborative action among Asean nations.

* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.

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