human rights centre

Human Rights in Asia Conference

Addressing Human Rights in Asia

Despite its large population and political importance, Asia is frequently neglected in human rights education in the UK. There are many reasons for this, one being the absence of a regional human rights mechanism for Asia.

Each year, a team of LLM and MA students decides on a timely topic and organises a conference on Human Rights in Asia, with the support and supervision of HRC fellow, Dr Sanae Fujita, where experts from the region are invited to address these topics.

Since 2009, this student-led event has been successful in raising awareness of a wide range of regional issues. Previous conferences have examined regional human rights mechanisms, development and human rights in Asia, natural disaster and human rights, human rights in Myanmar, and human rights in South Asia.

The conference is an excellent opportunity for participants to meet and network with other students, researchers and human rights professionals interested in human rights issues in Asia. As well as deepening their understanding of human rights in Asia, the event also helps our student convenors to gain practical skills in conference organisation, a very useful asset for their future careers.

The first Human Rights in Asia Conference took place in 2009. The event was originally proposed by postgraduate students from the Human Rights Centre and supported by the late Professor Kevin Boyle, Professor John Packer (former Centre Director), Dr Sanae Fujita, as well as the wider doctoral community.

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11th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference

The 11th Human Rights in Asia Conference was held on 23 March 2019 under the theme: “Shadow behind the Light: Economic Development and Human Rights”. This year’s keynote speakers were Professor Rhona Smith, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia, Professor Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, and Dr Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Also special panelists from Fukushima, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Bretton Woods Project discussed “Business and Human Rights: Fukushima Nuclear Disaster” and “International Development Agencies and Human Rights”. In the students’ panel, three students gave presentations on human rights issues in their countries 

Past conferences

10th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference

The 10th year of the conference was held at the University of Essex Colchester Campus, and focussed specifically on the rights of children in Asia. Most countries in the region have ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which entails a commitment of the states towards ensuring the right to survival, protection, development and participation of every child.

The day-long conference focussed on some of the pertinent child rights issues of the region. The rights of the girl child, refugee and IDP children, survivors of child trafficking and children in armed conflict were explored through panels and discussions. Experts and practitioners provided their insight into both, the developments and existing gaps in these areas, in order to advance the debate and further understanding on the issues.

9th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference

Gender and Sexuality

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex ran the 9th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference at its Colchester campus on Saturday 25 March 2017.

Themes that were discussed:
  • Advocating gender and status in law
  • Regional and country-specific issues
  • Exploitation, trafficking, and gender-based violence
  • State practices and religion

8th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference

Human Rights Defenders

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex ran the 8th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference at its Colchester campus on Saturday 30 April 2016.

Themes that were discussed:
  • Treatment of human rights defenders
  • Issues women face promoting human rights
  • Regional differences in human rights promotion
  • Challenges in protecting human rights
  • Future of human rights defenders

7th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference

Democracy and Human Rights in Asia: Progressing or Retreating?

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex ran the 7th Annual Human Rights in Asia Conference at its Colchester campus on Sunday 15 March 2015.

Themes that were discussed:
  • How can we assess current human rights events in Asia?
  • What do you know about human rights in the region?
  • Are you interested in learning more about Asia and its human rights practices?

Attendees engaged in an interactive session with our expert panellists at this student-led human rights conference, which is supported by the University of Essex's Human Rights Centre. Our speakers addressed critical human rights issues facing Asia today and included: