Freedom, justice and peace can only be achieved if we recognise the inherent dignity as well as the equal and inalienable rights of all humans. This idea, enshrined in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, lies at the heart of many ASEF and EUC activities. We facilitate dialogue and the exchange of good practices among the nations of Asia and Europe, promoting good governance and the respect for human rights.

Our Activities

  • Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights Series This is the largest meeting on human rights bringing together ASEM government officials and civil society actors from both Asia and Europe. The key feature of the seminars is the closed-door nature of the discussions, which promotes trust and allows participants from government and civil society alike to be completely open and frank. This is vital in the politically sensitive arena of human rights.
  • Asia-Europe Democratisation and Justice Series The series provides a platform for practitioners and theorists to share good practices and find common ground in the field of good governance and justice across the two regions.
  • Regional Roundtable on ‘EU-Asia Strategic Partnership - Form and Substance’ (2011) The report on the proceedings of the roundtable records the presentations and discussions of the roundtable participants, on topics from foreign policy to free trade agreements to educational exchanges. Recommendations were made as to how EU-Asia partnership could be further strengthened, for the benefit of all stake-holders.
  • ASEF Journalists Seminars/Colloquiums/Editors’ Roundtables At these seminars, journalists discuss global world developments, as well as ASEM concerns and approaches being taken to deal with them. In this way, the seminars promote dialogue between journalists and policy makers, and in turn, more accurate, balanced, and in-depth media coverage of Asia-Europe relations.
  • The Future of an Asia-Europe Strategic Partnership in Conflict Transformation (2011) The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia, in collaboration with the Asia-Europe Foundation and the Singapore Institute for International Affairs has just published (Dec 2011) the report on the 8th Asia-Europe Roundtable, 'The Future of an Asia-Europe Strategic Partnership in Conflict Transformation', which was held in Bali, Indonesia in May 2011. This report is edited by Stefanie Elies, Sol Iglesias & Yeo Lay Hwee (Director, EU Centre in Singapore).
  • Workshop on Leadership, Decision‐Making and Governance in the EU and East Asia: Crisis and Post-Crisis (2011) The EU Centre in Singapore has published a Report capturing the essence of the papers presented and the discussions that took place in the Workshop on “Leadership, Decision-making and Governance in the EU and East Asia: Crisis and Post-crisis”. This Workshop was organised in association with the Centre for European Studies and the Chula Global Network at Chulalongkorn University, in Singapore on 21-22 Nov 2011.
  • Asia-Europe Roundtable on Conflict Management The Asia-Europe Roundtable on Conflict Management which began in 2003, has been consistently recognised as a valuable forum for Asia-Europe dialogue on conflict management. The series has covered the whole conflict management cycle and throughout the course of its activities, there has been consensus in the value of strengthening the Asia-Europe partnership to address common challenges in region-building and conflict management.

The Informal Asia-Europe Meeting Seminar on Human Rights Series

At the inaugural meeting of the ASEM Foreign Ministers when Sweden and France suggested that informal seminars on human rights be held within the ASEM framework. The Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights has since convened 11 times, with the 12th edition to be held this year.

Participants are equally represented by region, government and civil society. Each year, the venue alternates between Asia and Europe. Similarly, the platform allows policy makers and diplomats to engage activists, lawyers and academics. Each seminar culminates in a closed-door working group discussion. These sessions provide a safe environment for a free and direct exchange of opinions and experiences. Topics discussed at previous seminars ranged from freedom of expression and right to information, to the impact of economic relations on human rights.

At the end of each seminar, results of the working group discussions are presented as policy recommendations to ASEM governments. This process unites the voices of Asia and Europe, along with our respective civil societies and governments, as we work towards the betterment of the ASEM region.

“Sweden is about to set up a national human rights institution, and the comments on independent autonomy and broad-based mandates have been very useful since these ingredients are now not only "prerequisites" but facts based on experience.” - Human rights lawyer from Sweden “Participating in [this working group] and my interactions with several experts in the field has brought much perspective to our work on national human rights institutions and civil society engagement.” - Indian member of a human rights think-tank. “The discussions have helped me in my function of advising the government on these issues. The result of some of my discussions has therefore immediately had an impact on my work” - Human Rights Advisor to the Belgian Ministry of Justice

Did you know?

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed on 10th December 1948, and remains to this day the major international tool for defining human rights. In the more than 60 years since its creation, however, the world has changed, and so have societies, attitudes and technologies. While the UDHR has been complemented with other instruments and treaties over the years, it is still of vital importance that the debate on human rights is kept current.
  • The Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights series seeks to identify the topical issues of the day and to gather expert opinion and experience on the current human rights landscape.


  • Access to Justice; Regional and National Particularities in the Administration of Justice; Monitoring the Administration of Justice.
    - Lund, Sweden / December 1997
  • Differences in Asian and European Values; Rights to Education; Rights of Minorities.
    - Beijing, China / June 1999
  • Freedom of Expression and Right to Information; Humanitarian Intervention and the Sovereignty of States; Is there a Right to a Healthy Environment?
    - Paris, France / June 2000
  • Access to Justice; Regional and National Particularities in the Administration of Justice; Monitoring the Administration of Justice.
    - Lund, Sweden / December 1997
  • Freedom of Conscience and Religion; Democratisation, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights; Rights and Obligations in the Promotion of Social Welfare.
    - Bali, Indonesia / July 2001
  • Economic Relations; Rights of Multinational Companies and Foreign Direct Investments.
    - Lund, Sweden / May 2003
  • International Migrations; Protection of Migrants, Migration Control and Management.
    - Suzhou, China / September 2004
  • Human Rights and Ethnic, Linguistic and Religious Minorities
    - Budapest, Hungary / February 2006
  • Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
    - Siem Reap, Cambodia / September 2007
  • Human Rights in Criminal Justice Systems
    - Strasbourg, France / February 2009
  • Human Rights and Gender Equality
    - Manila, Philippines / July 2010
  • National and Regional Human Rights Mechanisms
    - Prague, The Czech Republic / November 2011
  • Human Rights and Information and Communication Technology
    - Seoul, Korea / June 2012

Asia-Europe Democratisation and Justice Series

No two democracies are alike. The diverse histories of Asia and Europe point to an infinite number of perspectives on the issue of democratic development. To encourage inter-regional dialogue in the field of governance and justice, the Asia-Europe Democratisation and Justice series (AEDJ) was established in 2005 for relevant institutions across ASEM to share insights and good practices on governance issues.

The recent AEDJ publication, ‘Good Policing: Instruments, Models and Practices’, is an example of the dialogue’s efficacy. A comprehensive resource guide, it covers the best policing practices from Asia and Europe and provides a useful compendium of case studies, practices and methods from the two regions. Published in 2011, and designed to address the needs of police officers, academics and policy makers, the guide is an invaluable tool to help improve police ethics, transparency and compliance with international human rights standards.

“...For all the differences in models, approach and political culture, it is striking how much common experience and ground we share and so how much we can learn from each other...” - Member of the United Kingdom’s Election Commission “...This is the kind of intellectual Exchange that helps broaden perspectives, increase exposure and catalyse policy thinking between Europe and Asia on issues vital to the consolidation of democracy...” - Academic at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India

Did you know?

ASEF's publication on Good Policing is being adopted as a tool for police training purposes. It’s being translated to Bahasa Indonesia for this purpose and other countries like the Philippines have also expressed their interest.