Second Northeast and Southeast Asia Regional Network Meeting on Human Rights Education
From March 27-29, thirty-seven delegates from thirteen different countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia came together to strengthen human rights education throughout the region through a meeting series hosted jointly by Mahidol University and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.
The Opening Remarks by Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Chair of Mahidol University’s PhD Program in Human Rights and Peace, Dr. Eakphant Pindavanija, IHRP’s Director, and Yi Wang, Head of Human Rights Education, NCHR. Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: T. Grant)
In addition to the meetings, delegates were also welcome to participate in a Seminar on “Human Rights and Peace at a Crossroads: Shaping a New Agenda for Human Rights and Peace Education in the Asia-Pacific”, organized by the PhD program in Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University, at its Salaya campus. All participants also attended the launch of the book, Human Rights Outlook in Southeast Asia 2016, organized by SHAPE SEA at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.
During the opening remarks, Yi Wang, Head of Human Rights Education at the NCHR, explained that:
Human rights education has a long-term purpose which enhances values, knowledge and skills. With still many challenges with the implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, human rights education (HRE) should constantly respond to new challenges and needs. The purpose of this meeting is to provide the participants with new information about HRE in the region, how HRE programs are being organized in the region and how to develop the regional cooperation on human rights education.
The first two days featured a notable array of speakers including Vitit Muntarbhorn, international human rights expert and Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Kamarulzaman Askandar, Research and Education for Peace, University Sains Malaysia, Dr. Azmi Sharom, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, Keane Shum, Officer at the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner for Refugees, and Dr. Mark Capaldi, Head of Research and Policy, ECPAT International. Followed by a session where each participant presented an update on the human rights educational program at their respective universities.
Visiting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
On the third day participants visited the United Nations’ Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss the role of the OHCHR to promote and protect human rights as well as the relationships between international and regional human rights regimes. They also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand to discuss Thailand’s role in the development of ASEAN human rights regime, commitment to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), obligations to the International Human Rights Standard, and the role of relevant sectors (National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Civil Society Organizations) using human rights mechanism and engagement in the UPR process with Ms. Kanchana Patarachoke Director-General and her colleagues, Department of International Organizations, and Mrs. Chalida Tajaroensuk, Executive Director of the People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF).
On the final day, Human Rights Education and Research in Context and innovative methods for the future were explored. Overall key takeaways for the future included: utilize alternatives to human rights education if need be; make use of existing networks and new technologies; network nationally, regionally and cross regionally; focus on sustainability; map academic mobility, events, seminars, and resources; engage in critical discussions; and inspire through action.