Written Answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Human Rights Treaties and Conventions
7 Jul 2014 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Assoc Prof Tan Kheng Boon Eugene, Nominated Member
To ask the Minister for Law whether the Government will consider acceding to and ratifying, with reservations, major human rights treaties and conventions instead of being not a party at all.
Singapore is party to a number of major human rights treaties and conventions.
For example, Singapore is party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). More recently, Singapore ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2013. On 19 November 2012, Singapore, together with other ASEAN Member States, affirmed our commitment to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the region by adopting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
Singapore takes its treaty obligations seriously and prefers to become a party to Conventions when we are sure that we are able to comply fully with all of the obligations. Our focus is on the full and effective implementation of treaty obligations. We study international human rights instruments closely to understand the obligations that they impose on States party to them.
If we accede to a treaty and yet make reservations that detract from the object and purpose of the treaty as a whole, it becomes an exercise in mere optics. That is not our approach. I should emphasise that even when Singapore is not a party to a particular treaty, it does not mean that in practice, our policies are not already largely in compliance with the substance of its provisions.
Last updated on 08 Jul 2014