Between an Imagined Affinity, the State and ASEAN: The Sources of Regional Human Rights Norms

The transition to an investee State necessitates reforms in the financial, corporate and public sectors. This paper focuses on reforms in the area of human rights. Using a case study of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, it illustrates that reforms are being shaped by two forces. National courts and human rights institutions are bypassing the State and relying on their imagined global affinity as source of norms. In turn, the State is taking back control of the narrative by side-lining courts and human rights institutions, and in effect threatening to relapse into its authoritarian civil order past. This paper concludes that in this crisis ASEAN can mediate by formalizing and institutionalizing human rights through a process that involves the State and absorbs some of the political externalities that burden courts and human rights institutions.