The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law recently launched its first course on human rights and the environment.
“The aim is to give National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and academics in Southeast Asia strengthened knowledge and capacities to address environmental aspects of their work for human rights,” says Helena Olsson, Programme Officer at RWI.
The environmental and human rights agendas have developed separately over the years, but both legally and in terms of actors involved the links and frameworks are clearer today.
In Asia, the practical links are very apparent for institutions involved in human rights promotion and protection, such as NHRIs and academic institutions. “The need for a more holistic approach is widely recognized in Asia,” says Olsson.
The course coincides with the launch of the UN’s new sustainable development goals (SDGs) which merge the environmental agenda with social, economic, civil and political rights in the new global development agendas.
As nations and regions prepare for the implementation of the SDGs, there will likely be plenty of opportunity for both NHRIs and academics to analyse, address and monitor the environment from an integrated perspective, based on human rights.
“RWI has seen a notable interest among its partners in Asia to learn more about links and mechanisms to address human rights aspects of environmental issues, in particular where these are linked to private sector activities (business and human rights) and related issues of corruption and transboundary obligations of states,” says Olsson.
The blended learning course will address all these aspects through lectures and reading materials, case studies and exercises, and through the exchange of experiences, challenges, and good practice between participating institutions.
Eighteen participants from nine Southeast Asian countries will take part in the course, which will start with a month of online studies and culminate with a workshop in Bangkok 23-27 November.
The course will be led by Professor Sumudu Atapattu, Director of University of Wisconsin Law School research centers and senior lecturer in human rights and environment, together with Radu Mares, senior researcher at RWI with focus on human rights and business and Associate Professor of Law at Lund University, and experts and practitioners from the region.