Note from the director of the Regional Asia office
Jason Squire worked in law enforcement and prosecution for 16 years before entering the humanitarian development world. He worked as a police officer in South Australia. Later, he uncovered mass graves as an investigator of crimes against humanity with the UN. He then moved into the children’s rights field throughout Asia, the Middle East, eastern Europe and north Africa.
Jason then stepped away from humanitarian work and completed a PhD with Universiti Sains Malaysia, focused on where human/child rights and the philosophy that guides Shariah law can be better integrated into Malaysian civil law responses to vulnerable children in custody. He has now joined the Raoul Wallenberg Institute as Director of the Regional Asia Office in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The focus of our work in the Regional Asia-Pacific is human rights, gender equality, development and environment. We work with representatives from different sectors (academia, governments, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), judiciary, and business) to facilitate knowledge creation and dialogue, and promote accountability in those areas.
RWI works together with a number of regional and national partners, and brings decades of experience in generating knowledge, carrying out trainings, and creating platforms for a multi-sectorial dialogue on human rights, environment and gender equality.
The countries in the Asia-Pacific have increasingly suffered from the effects of climate change and extensive exploitation of natural resources, and seen environmental degradation causing severe harm to human life. The negative effects of “unsustainable” development, when combined with factors of vulnerability and discrimination, have worsened the impact on women, children, elderly, and poor or marginalized groups. To address this situation, multifaceted, multi-sectorial, and regional engagements are required.
Currently RWI is implementing a Regional Asia-Pacific Programme on Human Rights and Sustainable Development (2017-2021). The programme aims to contribute to a just, inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia Pacific region by mutually reinforcing protection of human rights, gender equality and the environment.
We have identified three strategies, which will help us to bring about a change:
- Strengthening KNOWLEDGE about the connections between human rights, gender equality and environment in the region, aiming to clarify context specific challenges and opportunities and to inform and influence policy, practice and discourse.
- Strengthening multi-sector SYNERGIES, pursuing constructive collaboration and efficient, inclusive and rights-based action towards SDG targets, building bridges and offering platforms for mutual exchange.
- Promoting ACCOUNTABILITY in relation to programme topics for all in society, including for cross-border violations and actions of private actors, and adequate measures for marginalised and discriminated groups.
The programme draws on RWI’s long history in the region; its presence in Jakarta, Beijing and Phnom Penh, its partners and networks, and the Institute’s thematic expertise and global experiences, which also add opportunities of inter-regional exchange and analysis.
Previously, RWI’s regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific has focused on strengthening the capacities of NHRIs and academic institutions as actors of change for human rights in the region. Over the last ten years RWI had been focusing on developing institutional capacities of academic institutions to carry out human rights education and research, as well as NHRIs to fulfil their mandates for human rights protection and promotion.
Since the 1990’s, our work in Asia and the Pacific 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 training 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.
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