Southeast Asia to adopt human rights declaration

November 18, 2012 - 12:33 AM
Cambodia ASEAN

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, center, walks off the stage with Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Laos' Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and Myanmar's President Thein Sein after a group photo session for the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Diplomats say Southeast Asian leaders have decided to launch a human rights declaration despite last-minute calls for a postponement by critics, including Washington, who say the pact contains loopholes that can allow atrocities to continue.

Diplomats say the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an unwieldy bloc of liberal democracies and authoritarian states, will sign a document adopting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Sunday in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, where the heads of state are holding an annual summit.

The nonbinding declaration calls for an end to torture, arbitrary arrests and other rights violations that have been longtime concerns in the region.

Myanmar's top diplomat, Wunna Maung Lwin, told The Associated Press that his country welcomes the declaration and will abide by it.