REGIONAL INTER-GOVERNMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS HAVE been in operation for some time in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. These regional human rights regimes are based on regional human rights treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. They are enforced by such political organizations as the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Regional human rights mechanisms have proven to be more effective and useful in promoting and protecting human rights than the global human rights mechanisms available at the UN (e.g. the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture) because they cannot only be complementary to the UN system but can also reflect regional particularities (e.g. the needs, priorities, and conditions of the regions). Regional human rights regimes are usually justified as essential elements in any successful international human rights system in a diverse, conflicted world.
This book is an investigation into the prospects of establishing a regional human rights mechanism in East Asia, with a focus on the contributions of NGOs to the development of such a regional institution. This study is significant because Asia is the only region where a regional human rights protection mechanism has not existed. NGOs' activities can and should lead to regional inter-governmental collaboration because 1) regional inter-governmental organizations (RIGOs) provide a common and convenient NGO forum for decision-making; 2) A RIGO makes it easier for NGOs to do together what they otherwise would or might not be able to do separately; 3) A RIGO might be able to substitute for distant Geneva and New York United Nations establishments; 4) A RIGO can often enhance the legitimacy of NGOs as international actors; 5) A RIGO may