HR75 Wrap-up: Asia-Pacific
Human Rights 75 Initiative
- Cook Islands
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- Lao PDR
- Viet Nam
Indigenous performances mark HR75
The UN Human Rights’ country office in Cambodia commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the participation of 300 representatives, including senior officials, civil society actors, academia, journalists and groups in focus (LGBTQI+, persons with disabilities, youth and indigenous peoples). Speakers included development partners, officials and civil society partners followed by art performances by indigenous peoples, youth, LGBTQI+ performers and traditional blessing dancers from Cambodia. During the event, OHCHR played two videos depicting messages by the High Commissioner and partners, and the mandate of OHCHR and its role in Cambodia.
Spotlight on National Human Rights Institutions
The UN Human Rights’ Pacific Regional Office, in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC), Asia Pacific Forum (APF) of NHRIs, the Office of the Ombudsman in the Cook Islands and other UN agencies organised a side event at 52nd Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting in Cook Islands. The PIF Leaders meeting from 6-10 November brought together 18 Heads of State from the Pacific and 21 Forum Dialogue Partners. The side event held on 7 November, focussed on the value and role of national accountability structures, and in particular NHRIs, and how they can promote people-centred development and gender equality, including addressing gender-based violence against women and girls.
The event also commemorated the 75th anniversary of the UDHR and aimed to build momentum towards the establishment of the Cook Islands Ombudsman’s Office as an independent NHRI and mobilizing support for action pledges from panellists including the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa; Cook Islands Member of Parliament, Hon. Akaitiiti O Te Rangi Puna; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hon. Jack Ading, to establish or strengthen NHRIs, promote gender equality and implement the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Art Exhibition on Enforced Disappearance in and by the DPRK
UN Human Rights Office in Seoul, in collaboration with USAU, IRI and the Embassy of Switzerland in the Republic of Korea, presented an art exhibition on Enforced Disappearances in and by Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This exhibition showcased the talents of young Korean artists who have used melody, art and prose to convey the realities of enforced disappearances in and by the DPRK. It provided a platform for the younger Korean generation to deepen their understanding of the human rights situation in the DPRK. Victims and their families participated in the project by sharing their experiences with the artists, lending an authentic voice to the plight, concerns and hopes of those affected by these tragic disappearances.
Pacific learning exchange on the Convention against Torture
On 10-12 June, UN Human Rights Pacific Regional Office, in collaboration with the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) and SPC, organized the Pacific Learning Exchange on the Convention against Torture. The learning-exchange was a key activity planned by the regional office as part of the HR75 ratification campaign. The three-day meeting was attended by representatives of 13 Pacific Island Countries and provided for a regional platform for participants to learn from experts and from each other, and to exchange good practices and challenges on the ratification and implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The meeting was instrumental in generating political will and enthusiasm as it promoted Pacific Island Countries’ engagement with international human rights mechanisms, in particular the Committee against Torture.
Voices of Pacific Youth
The UN Human Rights Pacific Regional Office, in collaboration with the UN Pacific Interagency Working Group for Adolescents and Youth, Pacific Youth Council, SPC, Pacific Human Rights Defenders and University of the South Pacific (USP) organised an International Youth Day hybrid event on 18 August with the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a sustainable world.” The event was also aimed at commemorating Human Rights 75 and promoting awareness of human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
The youth-led event included a panel discussion on environmental sustainability and showcased their initiatives through art exhibitions and interactive displays. Fiji’s Ministry of Youth, WWF Pacific, Conservation International Fiji, 350 Org, Rabi Youth Council, Pacific and Fiji Youth Council, Itaukei Young Women in Conservation, Pacific Disability Forum and other UN agencies were also present to raise awareness and showcase their initiatives, programs and career opportunities related to the theme. Young people also shared success stories on their green skills initiatives and raised awareness about human rights issues in their respective communities.
See more: Voices of Pacific youth
Human Rights Day in the Pacific
On the eve of Human Rights Day, OHCHR Pacific Regional Office, in collaboration with the SPC Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD) and USP and with funding from development partners, commemorated the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, Human Rights Day and Human Rights Defenders Day at the closing performance of the Pacific Human Rights Film Festival in Suva. The event opened with a specially commissioned performance by Vou, Fiji’s versatile and internationally renowned dance group, a piece entitled “Unheard”, on the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and the challenge that Pacific Island Countries representatives face having their voices heard during COP.
This was followed by the screening of “High Tide Don’t Hide” and an inspiring panel discussion with three prominent young climate activists from the region: Sophie Handford, a main character in the film who coordinated the school strike for climate (SS4C) movement of 170,000 New Zealanders; Ozyar Akbar, peer educator and a voice for Youth; and Salote Nasalo, an aspiring scientist and climate change activist with knowledge of coastal rehabilitation programmes. The event was livestreamed with some participants joining online from USP Majuro/Marshall Islands campus and from Micronesia.
Forging a renewed path on the universality and indivisibility of human rights
On 5 December, OHCHR SEARO together with the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator and the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR, co-organized a Symposium for the Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR in Vientiane. The event was attended by over 120 participants, including representatives of the Government and line Ministries, the Lao Women’s Union, academics and students from the National University of Lao PDR, development partners, INGOs and local civil society organizations such as the People’s Disabled Association and the Association for Development of Women and Legal Education.
The Symposium aimed to raise awareness about the UDHR; to forge a renewed consensus on the universality and indivisibility of human rights (all rights, for all); and to build a strong constituency for human rights, especially among young people and university students. In the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, the UN Resident Coordinator and the European Union’s Ambassador co-penned an Op-Ed which was published on main national newspapers on 10 December.
Universality for all in Malaysia: It’s Time Now
On 13 December, as part of the HR75 Initiative, OHCHR co-organised with Pusat Komas Malaysia, a dialogue on “UDHR 75: Universality for all in Malaysia: It’s Time Now.” The dialogue aimed to create an inclusive space and bring diverse interlocutors to debate, discuss and share insights on the universality of the UDHR, globally and in Malaysia, take stock of some of the key socio-political and legal issues and challenges underlying the advancing of human rights, the role of the NHRIs and to reflect on the lessons learnt to scale up progress on protection and promotion of human rights, including on business and human rights.
The forum was attended by representatives from at least 20 civil society organisations, UN agencies as well as representatives from the government. The speakers included the Undersecretary, Department of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, academic and legal experts from the International Institute of Public Policy and Management, Universiti Malaya as well as representation from FGV Holdings, a Malaysian-based agribusiness and one of the largest producers of crude palm oil.
Human Rights Photo Exhibition
UN Maldives partnered with the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (the Maldives NHRI) to hold a photo exhibition (entitled 'Lens on humanity's journey') aimed at visually representing the various human rights included in the UDHR. Local (amateur and professional) photographers and painters were invited to showcase their work, ideally of human rights issues they see every day. They were also asked to describe their submissions and how it resonated with human rights.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child visit the Pacific
OHCHR, UNICEF and SPC HRSD, organized the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s follow-up visit to the Pacific. The visit consisted of CRC delegations undertaking three country visits between 13 and 17 November, to the Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands and Tuvalu, followed by a regional experience-sharing workshop in Samoa on 20-22 November with 12 Pacific Island Country Governments. The visit connected the Committee with over 40 government officials and over 100 children across four countries to discuss and exchange practices and feedback on the implementation of the Convention and follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee also held the Pacific Launch of its General Comment No. 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change, discussing together with governments and children how to put children’s rights and child participation at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts at the community, national, regional and international levels. Pacific Island Countries made commitments to champion children’s rights in an Outcome Document they adopted at the end of the Committee’s visit.
Stand-Up for Human Rights
On 10 December, OHCHR in Bangkok hosted “Stand-Up for Human Rights,” a comedy show that brought together performers from across the Asia-Pacific region to share their unique stories and perspectives on rights issues, including identity, migration, gender, inclusion, caste and racial discrimination. It provided a space for people to come together and where creativity can confront fear, hatred and discrimination. Held in partnership with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Alliance Française Bangkok, the show commemorated International Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the UDHR with around 200 people from the public.
Asia-Pacific youth and human rights
On 11 December, as part of the Regional Hub of the HR75 High-Level Event, OHCHR hosted a youth workshop for 36 students from across the Asia-Pacific region about the relevance of the UDHR, leading them through various interactive sessions to identify which human rights challenges they see in their countries and region, and to which UDHR articles these challenges correspond.
Additionally, the students conceptualised ideas for possible projects that could address these challenges. To share the views of the youth, two participants delivered remarks through a live connection with high-level delegates in Geneva calling on Member States to prioritise fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, non-discrimination, recognition before the law, the right to life and a reminder that all humans are born free and equal. Two participants also conducted a youth fireside chat to discuss the outcomes of the workshop.
Renewed spirit of the Declaration
On 11 December, to mark the 75th anniversary of the UDHR and as part of the Regional Hub of the HR75 High-Level Event, OHCHR hosted a reception in Bangkok to echo the proceedings in Geneva. The reception was attended by around 145 participants, including member states, civil society, youths, UN agencies and other partners. During the event, the Royal Thai government delivered its pledge as a commitment to the UDHR.
University Talk: On the 75th anniversary of the UDHR
In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR and 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, UNDP and the Diplomatic Academy (DAV), supported by OHCHR, co-hosted a “University Talk: On the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights” with students of DAV on 8 December.