Note from the director of the Regional Asia office
We maintain cooperation with key regional actors in Asia in the areas of human rights, development and environment. We are looking at broadening such cooperation in the coming years, including through strengthening cooperation with ASEAN bodies and with regional actors in juvenile justice and corrections.
We initiated cooperation of regional scope in Asia in 2007, aiming to strengthen capacities of National Human Rights Institutions and academic institutions as key actors of change for human rights in the region.
Since 2010, this work focused increasingly on:
- gender equality
- linkages between human rights and the environment
- enhancing operational capacities of NHRIs and academia to for instance conduct research and wider national inquiries into systemic patterns of human rights violations, and to make human rights materials widely available through resource centres and libraries.
Juvenile justice was incorporated as a topic in focus in 2014/5 with the development and launch, at the ASEAN secretariat, of a study on the status of juvenile justice in ASEAN countries.
Today, we are preparing to expand oue regional operations in Asia as of 2017, mainly through a new regional programme that will focus on human rights related to environment, climate change and Agenda 2030.
The programme aims to contribute to a just, inclusive and sustainable development in the region by means of mutually reinforcing protection of human rights, gender equality and the environment.
Key strategies include:
- strengthening research and awareness of connections between human rights, gender equality and the environment
- strengthening synergies by pursuing constructive collaboration between sectors, and inclusive, rights-based action towards Agenda 2030 goals
- building bridges and offering platforms for exchange and dialogue
- promoting accountability and fair and efficient justice for all in relation to programme topics, including by means of adequate measures for marginalised and discriminated groups
The programme will have a wide geographical reach, stretching across South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific and China, and be implemented in coordination with bilateral RWI programmes in the region, as well as with regional partner organisations and networks.
Regional cooperation has also been initiated with for instance the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, where we gained consultative status in 2016; and with several regional and local actors in the fields of juvenile justice and corrections.
Since the 1990’s, our work in Asia has contributed to:
- strengthening human rights education and research at a variety of universities across the region in terms of course curricula and literature, teaching and research methodology, and through capacity development for lecturers.
- enhancing human rights expertise and operational capacities of NHRIs, including by introducing tools for conducting national Inquiries into systemic patterns of human rights violations.
- supporting the establishment of the Southeast Asian Human Rights Studies Network (SEAHRN) - one of the first and most important academic networks on human rights in the region.
- supporting the set-up and development of human rights libraries and resource centers in the region and trained managers and staff to manage such centres as qualitative, sustainable and accessible sources of public information on human rights issues.
Our regional cooperation in Asia has to date been funded by Swedish Development Cooperation.