• Jaclyn Neo

Realizing the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion in ASEAN:

The Limited Normative Force of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration


Human Rights Law Review, 2017, 0, 1–23

doi: 10.1093/hrlr/ngx028


This article examines the normative force and limits of Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) to advance the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion among ASEAN Member States. It argues that efforts to advance this freedom based on the AHRD are likely to be hampered by two constraints, one external to the document and one internal. The external challenge is the lack of a coherent baseline consensus upon which to build a core understanding of the content of the right due to competing visions of freedom of religion among Member States. The internal constraint stems from various provisions within the AHRD that appears to grant states significant discretion in defining the content and scope of human rights. In examining these constraints, this article seeks to inform a broader enquiry as to the AHRD’s potential as a regional human rights instrument.

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