FORUM-ASIA hosts the First Regional Workshop on Minorities in Southeast Asia
15 January 2008 7:00 pm

About 30 people working on minority rights issues in Southeast Asia will meet in Bangkok from 21 to23 January 2008. Information and wisdom gathered at the workshop will be brought to the upcoming session of UN Human Rights Council.
(Bangkok) The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is pleased to announce that the First Regional Workshop on Minority Issues in Southeast Asia to be held in Bangkok from 21 to 23 January. A workshop on this theme is to be held for the first time in the region. The workshop is organised in cooperation with the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, based in Tokyo, and Minority Rights Group, based in London.

About 30 participants will gather to share their experiences working for minority rights. They will work to validate country and thematic studies conducted by FORUM-ASIA on ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia. Participants will also receive information on using minority rights protection mechanisms such as: Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Forum on Minority Issues, and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

They will have chance to inform their work of the UN Independent Expert on minorities issues (IEMI), as she, Gay J. MacDougall, is the key note speaker of the workshop. “It’s a great privilege to have the IEMI come to Bangkok to meet with people working on minority rights in Southeast Asia”, said Anselmo Lee, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA. This workshop is expected to help bridge the gap between the UN system and the people working at grassroots level. MacDougall will include the information gathered at the workshop into her next report to the session of the UN Human Rights Council in March.

Gay J. MacDougall is a Special Procedures human rights mandate for two years, created by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2005 and appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The IEMI is mandated to promote implementation of the United Nations Minority Rights Declaration, work with UN bodies, governments and civil society to make recommendations to improve the human rights situation of minorities. The IEMI reports to the UN Human Rights Council. 

FORUM-ASIA’s Ethnic Minorities in Southeast Asia Programme will organise the workshop. Funded by the CIDA under the Southeast Asia Regional Cooperation on Human Development (SEARCH) initiative, the programme seeks to promote and strengthen the rule of law and improve institutional mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the human rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples in the region. The programme focuses on Cambodia, Indonesian, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam. 

FORUM-ASIA, a membership based regional human rights organisation, with NGO consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, currently has 40 member organisations in 15 Asian countries. FORUM-ASIA promotes solidarity and cooperation among human rights organisations to advance and realise human rights in Asia through advocacy, capacity building and coalition building. 

For more information please contact FORUM-ASIA, Ethnic Minorities in Southeast Asia Programme Coordinator, Bernice See, +66 (0) 2391 8801, em-seap@forum-asia.org