Mostafa Sen joined RWI as a programme officer in Cambodia because he believes in the institute’s approach to impact change by targeting the next generation through the higher education institutes with human rights education and research.
Mostafa Sen has coordinated programmes in the areas of human rights, democracy and sustainable development in Cambodia for the past 15 years. He has focused particularly on civil society and human rights of women and has vast experience of coordinating and monitoring Swedish Development Cooperation funded programmes.
Mostafa joins RWI from Forum Syd Cambodia where he was programme officer in charge of five partner organizations and managed the gender and forestry sectors. Previously, Mostafa also worked for GIZ on access to justice for women, for EICYAC to fight commercial sexual exploitation of children and for OIYP on youth participation. Mostafa has a master’s degree in human rights law from Pannasastra University and a bachelor’s in law from Cambodian Mekong University.
Where are you from?
I was born in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. That’s where I also grew up until I moved to Kampong Chhnang Province. It’s around 60 km from Phnom Penh. I lived in the province for five years until I moved back to the capital.
Phnom Penh is very crowded, a lot of people move into the city looking for studies, jobs and doing business. Right now Phnom Penh is developing, a variety of food is being introduced and high buildings are being built. It’s become a place where people try to come together. This has led to the traffic being very busy and noisy in the city and it has also started to become polluted.
Why did you choose RWI to continue your work? What made you interested in coming here?
I decided to make the move because of RWI’s approach and focus on human rights, research and educating the next generation. It is very important that the next generation start to learn, discuss and reflect about human rights in class as well as through their research so they are equipped with human rights knowledge in the future, when they for example become an actor in business, in government, in jurisdiction and in parliament or work in the field. This can benefit the society and influence positive change for the future.
I can also see the approach for dialogue with the duty bearers, instead of confronting them. The method of negotiating and discussing the research findings to try and influence the government’s human rights policies step by step is an innovative way.
It is also link to my career development where I wish to become a lawyer in the field business and human rights. I strongly believe what RWI Cambodia have been doing would enable me step by step to reach my career passion.
What are your first impressions of RWI?
The management here, even though we are small team, I like the way the country director treats the staff and her vision of the future of the RWI’s Cambodia programme and the connection with the Regional Asia Programme. The implementation, connection and collaboration of our work I find very good and supportive. Hanna really impressed me in regards to how she works, manages/directs the programme, engages with staff and supports new staff like me. I feel like I made the right decision to continue my career with RWI. I strongly believe that with the current direction and support from RWI’s colleagues in Lund as well as around the world RWI’s Cambodia programme will be growth bigger with more financial support from other donors and can produce long-term impact toward sustainable development.
What are you working with right now?
Currently I am working with two programmes, one with Cambodia programme and the other with the Regional Asia Programme. For Cambodia programme, I’m managing 4 main activities – Pilot Human Rights Course at new university in province, Human Rights Course at University of Management and Economic (UME) in Battambang Province, Annual Ten December Academy and Support to Female Students from Disadvantages Background.
For the Regional Asia Programme, I’m co-managing a project with Dr Matthew Scott. The project called “Regional Thematic Study on Climate Change” which focuses on supporting research scholars to conduct research on the topic of “Protecting Persons Displaced in the Context of Disasters in Asia Pacific: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Law, Policy and Practice” in Ten Countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippine, China, Solomon and Vanuatu.
Beside the above, I am also engaging and supporting relevant activities and projects of colleagues here in Cambodia office as well the colleagues based in Jakarata office.
What do you want to get out of the experience of working at RWI?
With experience working at RWI, I do believe that I can contribute to the development of high quality of human rights education and research in Cambodia, where more and more of qualify education programmes and qualify local human resources in the field of human rights and research will be developed. On the other hand, I can make best use of the knowledge and experience of the international, regional and national experts/resource persons to further strengthen the capacity and education system of the partners involves in RWI Cambodia programme as well as of the Regional Asia Programme.
I can see how the current programme here is working on human rights education and research and planning for the future to explore the business and environment side of that. The current and future approach link very much with my career development. I want to become a lawyer in the field of business and human rights. But also link very well to address current situation and development of Cambodia. So, the experience at RWI would not only benefit me as individual but also for Cambodia as the whole in the sector of human rights education and research.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the human rights and law field?
Each human is born with rights but those human rights somehow are not fully exercised nor fulfilled, particularly for those who are poor and marginalise. In equality and power abuse play key role in promoting human rights violation. I do believe pursue a career in human rights and law field can enable me to promote the respect, protect and fulfill of human rights.
With career in the human rights and law field, I can have more roles and contribution to build a fair and justice society where people holding power to promote positive change and promote sustainable development with respect of human rights.
Personally, I really care when talking about helping people, community development and supporting disadvantaged individuals. I started volunteering early on in my career and by becoming a lawyer, I can take on pro-bono cases and help people through that.