East Asia and Pacific
The Special Representative has a significant platform of cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), and Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). These two ASEAN bodies play important roles in the promotion and protection of children's rights in the ASEAN region, including the right of children to a life free from violence.
In November 2015, the ASEAN Heads of State Summit adopted the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Children 2016-2025, which is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Plan proposes concrete actions to be achieved within a clear timeframe for violence prevention and children’s effective protection. In 2019, a midterm review of the Plan was undertaken. It found there had been significant progress in Members States in addressing the priorities identified in the plan, especially in relation to legislative and legal reforms, promotion of positive parenting initiatives and to finding alternatives to the institutional care of children. The review also identified a need for more data collection and research on violence against children, and an increase in the number and capacity of those who work for the protection of children.
The ASEAN Regional Plan requests the Special Representative to provide technical support to ASEAN and its Member States in effective implementation of the Plan’s activities. In most years, the Special Representative holds a dialogue with the ACWC representatives during which progress in implementing the Regional Plan and other developments are assessed and an update on global priorities, opportunities and new initiatives towards ending violence against children relevant to the Plan is provided.
ASEAN has also adopted several declarations and commitments for action by its Member States that will help to strengthen the protection of children. In November 2020, ASEAN adopted the Ha Noi Declaration on Strengthening Social Work. It calls on Member States to recognize the important role of social workers, including those who work for the protection of children, by developing strategic plans to increase the number, technical capacity and accreditation of the social workforce and enhance its integration and coordination with other relevant government services, as well as to ensure the social workforce is adequately resourced.
In November 2019, ASEAN adopted a Declaration on the Protection of Children from all Forms of Online Exploitation and Abuse that urges Member States to adopt comprehensive legislative frameworks, increase awareness of the risks to children of online exploitation and abuse, and enhance the engagement of the private sector and other stakeholders in prevention and response.
In February 2020, the SRSG gave a keynote speech to the first ASEAN Regional Conference on Child Online Protection in which she stressed the need for ASEAN Member States to take urgent action to implement the measures outlined in the Regional Declaration while adopting a comprehensive approach that recognizes the need to build child protection online and offline together as a continuum.