The Asia Europe Foundation, together with its partners, co-organised the 18th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights on 5-8 November 2018 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The overall goal of the ASEM Seminar Series is to bring together civil society members and government officials from both Asia and Europe to engage in informal discussion surrounding the topic at hand. The 18th Seminar was hosted by the The Ministry of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. When communicating their readiness to host the Seminar, Indonesia affirmed that “an investment in a human rights approach to the prevention of violent extremism seems the only logical and responsible way forward“.
The Seminar’s topic of discussion was Human Rights and Prevention of Violent Extremism, which brought together many experts, academics and government representatives in the field for three days of informal shared dialogue.
This year, a total of 118 people participated in the Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights. Of these, 64 were from Asian ASEM partner countries and 50 were from Europe, with 4 additional participants from international organisations. Overall, a total of 38 ASEM partners were represented at the Seminar.
“There is a very important value of the ASEM Informal Seminar Series, and that is the extent to which it allows us to come together, to gain energy from each other, to reassure and to empower each other in what are very challenging times“, emphasized Mr Michael O’FLAHERTY, Director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, in his keynote address. The other two keynote speakers included Ms Kate GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations, and Mr Steven SIQUEIRA, Deputy Director at the Office of Counter-Terrorism, the United Nations.
To facilitate in the exchange of ideas, four distinct working groups were formed on the second day of the Seminar to create smaller groupings of experts for a more focused discussion about the key target areas of Human Rights and Prevention of Violent Extremism. These groups included: Push & Pull Factors of Violent Extremism; Targeting Violent Extremism at the Local Level; Violent Extremism: Women’s Involvement, Rights & Security; and Youth, Education & Prevention of Violent Extremism.
On the final day of the Seminar, the main outcomes of the working group discussions were presented by the rapporteurs of each group: Dr Theo GAVRIELIDES, Founder of The IARS International Institute and the Restorative Justice for All Institute (RJ4All); Ms Faiza PATEL from the Brenan Centre for Justice; Ms Irene SANTIAGO, lead convenor of #WomenSeriously; and Professor Lynn DAVIES from the University of Birmingham.
Additionally, a panel discussion took place on the third and final day of the Seminar, featuring: Dr Mohammad Najib AZCA of the Centre for Security and Peace Studies, University of Gadjah Mada; Dr Melissa JOHNSTON of Monash University’s Centre for Gender, Peace and Security; H.E Mr Pekka METSO, Ambassador-at-Large for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Processes in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs; and Ms Mossarat QADEEM of the Paiman Alumni Trust, Pakistan.
Against the serene surroundings of Yogyakarta’s Hyatt Regency, valuable dialogue about Preventing Violent Extremism in Asia and Europe was shared over a productive three days. In her memorable remarks, Ms Kate GILMORE urged participants to assess their methods or ideas of prevention, stating; “What we have done – what we are doing – in the name of preventing violent extremism must answer hate, not spread it; enhance personal security for people living insecure lives, not weaken it; be rooted in building trust and connection between and within communities, not tear trust down“.