Laos People's Democratic Republic

Landlocked between five countries in Southeast Asia, Laos was under French rule until it gained full independence in 1954. The country was entrenched in conflict for over 20 years as civil war broke out between those loyal to the Royal Lao Government and the Communist Pathet Lao, with both sides receiving support from global Cold War superpowers. Communist forces seized power in 1975, ushering in years of isolation. Lao began opening up to the rest of the world after the fall of the Soviet state in the 1990s. Lao remains a one-party state, has long been a source of serious concern for many groups advocating for respect for human rights and the freedom of its population to exercise fundamental rights. Though there is concern with Lao’s compliance to the covenants it has joined, the Lao government has been open to the idea of signing the Rome Statute, and on several occasions has stated its intention of studying the implications of joining the ICC.
Civil society advocacy

Enforced disappearances, severe restrictions on the freedom of speech, association, and assembly, have been a source of continued concern for civil society organizations in the region. Groups have undertaken several campaigns, focusing on the issue of enforced disappearances of prominent human rights activists calling for impartial investigations and accountability for perpetrators.  

The Coalition’s members on the ground and throughout the region, continue to conduct campaigns and awareness-raising activities on the local front as well as on the ASEAN platform to encourage Lao to enact necessary domestic implementing legislation and to garner the necessary political will on all fronts to advance Lao’s progress towards ratification. Civil society also works with Lao’s economic and development partners to ensure that respect for human rights remains a top priority in partnership agreements.