Sharing our experience from the SUHAKAM x CERAH Right to Clean Air petition with regional NHRIs

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

The Asia Pacific Forum (APF) invited us to share our experience in bringing the CERAH Coalition’s petition to SUHAKAM on transboundary haze pollution and our right to clean air.

The Asia Pacific Forum (APF) reached out to us to see if we would be happy to share our experience and reflections in bringing the CERAH Coalition’s petition/complaint to SUHAKAM on the issue of transboundary haze pollution and our fundamental right to clean air.


Background:

  • The Asia Pacific Forum is the regional network of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Asia Pacific that supports the establishment of NHRIs and strengthens their capacity as they work to protect and promote human rights. Malaysia’s NHRI is SUHAKAM.


APF was organising a workshop for Southeast Asian NHRIs in Bangkok on 21-23 June 2022. One of its aims was to encourage NHRI participants to identify how to strengthen their engagement with inter-governmental mechanisms on the right to a healthy environment and climate change. In this part of the world, our inter-governmental mechanism would be ASEAN.


APF would like to use our CERAH x SUHAKAM petition as a case study and example of engagement and collaboration between an NHRI and civil society in upholding the right to a cleaner and healthier environment.


Of course we would be happy to share! It was an honour!


So on 22 June, we joined the workshop participants via Zoom and shared about how our petition started, how the CERAH Coalition was formed, how SUHAKAM collaborated with us to co-design and co-organise the Roundtable Discussions with all relevant stakeholders across the country, the status of the petition and our plans moving forward. (Here's our presentation.)

In particular, we emphasised that NHRIs can play a unique role in hosting civic discussions around themes with competing interests (eg. the pursuit of national economic growth against the preservation of a clean and healthy environment). This is crucial in complicated, multi-faceted challenges like climate change and air pollution which are consequences of 'organised irresponsibility' and open up possibilities in which actors who contribute to the problem can, if they step up and honour their place (and thereby responsibilities) in society, also contribute to solutions. It will not be an easy role to play, but NHRIs are best-positioned to do so.

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