Giving effect to its 5-year strategic plan to 2027, to step up its engagement with UN human rights mechanisms and international organisations, Asia Centre undertook an outreach mission to Geneva, Switzerland during April 2022.
This mission stems from the Centre’s continuous growth over the past seven years which has seen it achieve the following:
- Recognition as a research institute in the regional and Thai landscape on democracy, rights and geopolitical issues,
- Establishment of a branch in Malaysia,
- Production of seminal, policy-oriented knowledge products on democracy and human rights in the region,
- Building networks across the region on critical issues (business and human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief and human rights mechanisms),
- Engaging in policy oriented advocacy aimed at achieving progressive social impact,
- Participating in policy processes that promote human rights through civil society and parliamentary networks in Southeast Asia and in research networks in South Asia, and
- Advising Thai-based foreign embassies on regional affairs.
Similar missions were undertaken by Asia Centre to Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, India and the United States between 2015 and 2022. A forthcoming mission to Canada will take forward such strategic outreach.
Spearheaded by Dr. Robin Ramcharan, the Centre’s mission to Geneva from 7 to 22 April followed a similar mission in 2020, prior to the pandemic. On this occasion, the Centre secured its access to the Geneva International and to UN premises. It also explored collaboration with think tanks and IOs in Geneva.
Building on existing relationships and work the UN mechanisms and civil society organisations in Southeast Asia, it seeks to take its advocacy to a higher plane through the establishment of a representation office in Geneva and building coalitions with like-minded think-tanks and CSOs.
Dr. Ramcharan discussed the Centre’s work and strategy with Ambassador Salman Bal, who heads the Geneva International, a platform that services major international organisations and NGOs in Geneva. This was undertaken with a view to setting up a representation office.
The Centre therefore filed its registration papers with the Centre d’Acceuil de la Genève International (CAGI), or Geneva Welcome Centre. This step signifies clearly the Centre’s intention to step up its human rights dialogue with stakeholders from the regional level to the international level, to contribute to upholding universal human rights norms and to realizing progressive change at the ground level.
Dr. Ramcharan also met with a number of organisations and think tanks, including the Geneva Human Rights Platform of the Geneva Academy for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He and Mr. Domenico Zipoli of the Platform explored collaboration on projects aimed at increasing the compliance of states with their obligations to human rights treaty bodies.
He also explored potential collaboration on rule of law and justice issues with Mr. Marc Cassayre, Permanent Representative in Geneva of the Rome-based International Development Law Organisation (IDLO). Both the Centre and IDLO share common interests in a producing knowledge tools on key justice issues.
He informed other Geneva-based institutions about the work of the Centre, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Mr. Tshimanga Kongolo of the WIPO Academy was apprised of the work of the Centre.
The WIPO engages on global issues connected to intellectual property rights such as the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, the right to health and the right to a clean environment.
This outreach, builds on Asia Centre’s prior engagement with Geneva-based organisations in February 2020.