ASEAN Signs First Charter on Human Rights
Below is an article published by BBC News:
The document, agreed by the 10 member states at a summit in
But the signing ceremony took place amid continued condemnation of the rights record of Asean member
Critics say the charter will not rein in
The generals sparked international outrage when they violently suppressed anti-government protests in September  - killing at least 15 people and imprisoning thousands more.
The controversy continued at the summit, where host nation
Burmese officials objected, and gained the support of the eight other member nations, blocking Mr Gambari's briefing.
Earlier, a senior
One of the most significant pledges in the charter is to set up a regional human rights body.
But critics say it will have limited impact as it will not be able to punish governments that violate the human rights of their citizens.
Negotiators rejected some more radical plans for the charter - such as enabling sanctions and possible expulsions against member states which seriously breached agreements.
"Of course there has been some watering down," former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who helped draft the charter, told the Associated Press.
But he said the document still represented a "momentous step forward".
After the signing ceremony, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was similarly upbeat, saying the charter would pave the way for closer ties between member states.
"To make Asean strong and relevant, we must accelerate and deepen regional integration," he said.
"The Asean charter is a crucial step in this process."
The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) is composed of