Human Rights in Asia Conference 2021 - A Bird's Eye View of Asia: The Asylum - Seeking Climate

  • Sat 20 - Sat 27 Mar 21


  • Online


  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Human Rights Centre

 The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex is delighted to invite you to the 13th Human Rights in Asia Conference. This two-day student-led event will be featuring the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees in Asia, with a special focus on South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. 

Our team at Human Rights in Asia Conference this year have noted that much of the focus of the media surrounding refugees and asylum seekers have been on the hotspots, such as The Middle East and Europe, and we have decided that Asia is as much of an important component that should be included in these debates and discussions. In our 13th conference, we are particularly interested in the contrast between the two Asian countries that have signed and ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and another two that have not, and whether this makes an indication on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in these regions.
    Human Rights in Asia Conference 2021 - A Bird's Eye View of Asia: The Asylum - Seeking Climate

    Event 1 – Legal and political perspectives on refugee/ asylum seeker protection

    Saturday 20 March 2021
    11:00am to 1:00pm (GMT) (including 30 minutes of Q&A)

    Opening remarks from:

    Dr Andrew Fagan, Director of the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex

    Dr Sanae Fujita, Fellow, School of Law/Human Rights Centre, University of Essex

    Moderated by:

    Dr Carla Ferstman, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Essex

    Introducing our Country panel speakers:

    SOUTH KOREA: Takgon Lee, Attorney at Law, Dongcheon Foundation
    Takgon Lee is an attorney working at Dongcheon Foundation, a public interest law foundation founded by Bae, Kim and Lee, LLC. Before joining Dongcheon, Takgon worked as a corporate counsel. Now, he focuses on legal advocacy and policy reform for refugees and migrants. His current interest includes, among others, universal birth registration, right to stay for undocumented migrant children, as well as domestic interpretation and implementation of international human rights treaties and instruments including the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Global Compact for Migration.

    He also serves as the secretary at the Human Rights Committee of the Korean Bar Association, and the Deputy Chair at the International Solidarity Committee of MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society.

    JAPAN: Saburo Takizawa, Former Representative of UNHCR Japan
    Saburo Takizawa, Professor Emeritus of Toyo Eiwa University, Japan, was born in Nagano prefecture in 1948. He received a BA from Saitama University, an MA from Tokyo Metropolitan University and an MBA from Haas School of Business, the University of California, Berkeley. In 1981, he joined the United Nations Office in Geneva, and then worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as Director of Program Coordination and for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Controller/Director of Finance as well as the UNCHR Representative in Japan (2007-2008).
    From 2009 till 2016 he was a professor at Toyo Eiwa University. He specializes in Japan’s refugee policy and has written a number of articles and books, including English ones such as “Japan’s Refugee Policy: Issued and Outlook” published by the Japan Institute of International Affairs

    INDONESIA: Dr M. Alvi Syahrin, M.H., C.L.A., Head of Research Centre, Immigration Polytechnic, Indonesia
    M. Alvi Syahrin is Law and Immigration Expert of Directorate General of Immigration (Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Indonesia). His current research focuses on Forced Migration, International Refugees, Border Security, Law and Development. Currently is a Head of Research Centre at Immigration Polytechnic.

    THAILAND: Dr Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
    Sriprapha Petcharamesree is a faculty member at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University in Thailand. She received her PhD (Doctorat) in international politics from the University of Paris-X Nanterre, France. Sriprapha was awarded, in 2017,  an Honorary Doctor by the University of Oslo, Norway for her contribution to human rights. From 2009-2012, she has served as the Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
    Dr Petcharamesree’s first formal contact with the works on migration started when she served UNHCR during the Indochinese refugee crisis in 1977. She was also employed as a social worker at the UNICEF’s Emergency Operations for Cambodian Refugees between 1979-1981before joining the Thai government and then academia. Her recent works focus, among others, on issues of citizenship, migration, refugees and asylum seekers as well as statelessness, human rights in international relations, and human rights education.

    In addition to our country panel speakers above, we will also have a keynote speech from Aurvasi Patel, who is the Head of Protection Service at UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. She will be presenting an overview of the refugee and asylum-seeking climate in Asia.

    Event 2 – Everyday experiences of refugees and asylum seekers

    Saturday 27 March 2021
    11:00am to 1:00pm (GMT) (including 20 minutes of Q&A)

    Introducing our Country panel speakers:

    SOUTH KOREA: Youngah Kim, Founder and Executive Director of the Migration to Asia Peace (MAP)
    Youngah Kim has been devoting to refugee protection in the Republic of Korea since 2013, the year when the domestic refugee law came into effect. She founded the Migration to Asia Peace (MAP) in 2015. Under her leadership, the MAP has provided refugees and asylum seekers with services such as counselling, translation/interpretation, information distribution, and case management.
    The MAP also launched a project Human Library with Refugees to raise public awareness and address prejudices. The areas of advocacy she is interested in are refugee health right, family unification, child protection, refugee representation, and labour rights. She studied International development cooperation/conflict resolution studies for MA at University for Peace. She majored in International relations and Political science at University of Toronto.

    JAPAN: Eri Ishikawa, Chair of the Board Japan Association for Refugees (JAR)
    Eri Ishikawa earned her Bachelor’s degree at Sophia University in Tokyo. The 1994 Rwandan genocide made her become more interested in refugee issues, and she joined to establish the NPO Japan Association for Refugees (JAR) while in the undergraduate course. She joined JAR in 2001 after finishing the study and working with a company. She has engaged in the assistance to Afghan refugees, the first amendment on the Japanese refugee status determination-related law, the coordination among the parties concerned in the occasions of a sit-down strike in front of the United Nations University by and deportations against Kurdish refugees so far.

    Since January 2008, she had been working in the position of secretary-general of JAR while taking maternity leave twice. She was appointed as Chair of the Board of JAR in December 2014. She is currently working as a part-time lecturer at Sophia University and Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International and Public Policy.

    INDONESIA: Isa Soemawidjaja, Humanitarian Worker

    Isa Soemawidjaja is a humanitarian worker at UNHCR working for the refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Indonesia since July 2018. He deals with detention/potential refoulement cases, access to territory/asylum, access to universal birth registration and birth certificates for the refugees and any other legal protection issues affecting UNHCR’s persons of concern in Indonesia’s archipelago. 

    Prior to Indonesia, from 2010 to 2018, he worked as a UNHCR’s Refugee Status Determination (RSD) specialist assigned in Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey.

    THAILAND: Kornkanok Wathanabhoom, Policy Advocacy and Communication Coordinator, Asylum Access Thailand
    Kornkanok Wathanabhoom is a Policy Advocacy and Communication Coordinator of Asylum Access Thailand. Currently, she is also the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) coordinator. She cooperates with the CRSP partner organizations to uphold the urban refugee rights in Thailand particularly on the implementation of the national screening mechanism and the MOU on Alternative to Detention. Moreover, she promotes the understanding of refugee’s issue to the general public on Asylum Access Thailand’s social media platform as well as teaching law students on the issue of the refugees in Thailand.
    She used to work for vulnerable groups such as stateless people, to promote birth registration and acquire a nationality and basic rights. She is Essex’s alumni; she studied the International Human Rights Law program in 2018-2019.
    We will also have exclusive video interviews with asylum-seekers and refugees where they explored their journey, the challenges they faced, and their everyday lives in Asia. 

    In addition, our keynote speaker for this event will be delivered by Dr Renos K. Papadopoulos, who is the Director of the Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugee, an organisation within the University of Essex that aims to provide a framework and a focus for examining, from a variety of different perspectives, the main issues associated with the reality and experience of being an asylum seeker or refugee.

    How to join this event

    The event will be accessible via Zoom. Please register for this event via Eventbrite, where you will find the Zoom meeting ID code on your Eventbrite ticket.

    If you have any queries, please contact: hrinasia@essex.ac.uk