RWI brings together 17 academics in Southeast Asia for human rights workshop

Rhona Smith, Professor of International Human Rights, and Theany Thol, the Law Programme Coordinator at the Faculty of Law and Public Affairs, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, speak during workshop in Bangkok.
Rhona Smith, Professor of International Human Rights, and Theany Thol, the Law Programme Coordinator at the Faculty of Law and Public Affairs, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, speak during workshop in Bangkok.

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute recently hosted a research methodology and human rights workshop in Bangkok. Seventeen academics from Cambodia, Laos, Myanamar and Vietnam participated in the 5-day event.

Boualaphiane Sisouk, a PhD Candidate at Nagoya University and Lecturer at the National University of LaosBoualaphiane Sisouk, a PhD Candidate at Nagoya University and Lecturer at the National University of Laos, says she was attracted to the workshop because she had never seen academics from these particular countries brought together to learn about human rights research methodology.

“I want to help people in Laos – like people in the rural areas,” she said. “In Laos we have a lot of barriers that makes it difficult for us to improve our situation – like capacity gaps. If I can transfer my knowledge of human rights to the people it will be helpful in the future. It will be good for them to know their rights and develop their capacity.”

During the workshop, the researchers and lecturers participated in different sessions on research methodology. These sessions covered topics on general research design, typical characteristics of human rights research and what a human rights based approach to research entails.

The participants also worked on their research proposals, trying to improve their research questions and determining what kind of methods they need to use to answer their research questions.

Participants were most interested in understanding how different methods can be used in their research. They also had the opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss with human rights experts and other participants.

RWI Programme Officer David Eile“We are doing this because we want to strengthen the research capacities of academics in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and to create networks, synergies and contacts between them,” says David Eile, Programme Officer with academic cooperation within the Institute’s regional Asia programme.

In this sense, the workshop aims to contribute to improving what RWI identifies as one of the key problems for human rights education in the Southeast Asian region: the lack of capacity of academic institutions to deliver high-quality human rights education and research and contribute to the human rights debate in society.

After the workshop, the participants will return to their home countries and start implementing the research projects that they have developed during the different sessions.

A second workshop will be held in Cambodia in August where the participants are expected to present a research paper with the findings of their projects. This workshop will focus on presentation skills and techniques and be an opportunity for peer-review as well as feedback and commentaries from invited experts.

In the time between the two workshops, the participants will receive guidance and advice on their research projects by academic mentors appointed to them by RWI.

As a final step of the programme, the research papers produced will be used to apply to a regional/international conference relevant to the participants’ research topics. This way the participants can take part in the wider human rights debate in the region, expand their academic network and also spread the results of their research to a larger audience.

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