Rights to bite?


East Asian leaders met in Thailand over the weekend to discuss regional issues including free trade, human rights and further integration. These kinds of meetings are often (and, it has to be said, sometimes fairly) dismissed as talking shops. But this time around there seems actually to have been something to show for the talk–a new rights body. 
Of course whether this new commission, inaugurated over the weekend, ultimately ends up getting any teeth will be quite another matter (and The Wall Street Journal is pretty scathing about the early signs). But if it ever does, there’ll be plenty of targets for it to sink them into, not least Burma (whose ruling junta claimed Sunday opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi still has a role to play there) and North Korea, which was blasted a couple of days ago by a UN envoy over its ‘abysmal’ rights record. 
And, as APEC Executive Director Michael Tay told me recently, it’s hard to get anything done if leaders aren’t actually speaking to each other.

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