“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” Nelson Mandela
Poverty is not solely an economic issue. Rather, it is a multifaceted phenomenon that comprises a lack of both income opportunities and basic capabilities to live in dignity. Poverty denies people the resources, choices, opportunities, capabilities and security they need to live a decent, healthy life, which includes the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights.
There is an increasing recognition of the importance of incorporating a human rights-based approach into poverty reduction both nationally and internationally. The human rights approach helps to formulate and adopt policies and strategies that not only focus on reducing poverty but also address underlying structural causes and related human rights violations. Furthermore, the human rights approach to poverty reduction empowers the poor through legal protection for the fulfillment of their fundamental rights.
A number of international treaties and commitments mention the interconnected objectives of eliminating poverty and promoting human rights, and under the existing human rights law, states have a legal obligation not only to eradicate extreme poverty but also to ensure that those living in poverty can enjoy their human rights and lives of human dignity. Eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030 is also a pivotal goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
However, more can be done to strengthen the integration of human rights and poverty reduction and to make better use of international human rights law to guide policy on poverty reduction.
In light of deepening economic instability, climate change, and conflict in many parts of the world, there is a greater need than ever for strengthened, joint, human rights-centric measures to eradicate poverty and prevent more people from falling into social and economic destitution.
By providing a platform for discussion among relevant stakeholders, including government officials from ASEM partners, academic experts and members of civil society, the 22nd Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights (ASEMHRS22) aims to
- Contribute to a better understanding of the interlinkages between human rights and poverty reduction;
- Put forward recommendations and considerations for better integration of human rights in poverty reduction strategies, policies and actions;
- Encourage peer-learning amongst ASEM Partner countries, civil society organisations (CSOs), academic experts, and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) by facilitating the sharing of good practices, innovative ideas and knowledge in the integration of human rights in poverty reduction-related action.
The participation in the Seminar will take place in four simultaneous working group discussions on the following topics:
- Integration of Human Rights in Poverty Reduction Strategy and Measurement
- Poverty Reduction and Those in the Most Vulnerable Situations
- Social Protection: A Human Right and Sustainable Development Goal
- From Local to Global: Multistakeholder Partnerships for the Advancement of Human Rights in Poverty Reduction
Participation & format of the event
The Seminar is an invitation-only event for which relevant participants belonging to the civil society from Asia and Europe are selected by the event co-organisers. The civil society participants comprise human rights experts & practitioners from civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academia (universities, research institutes & think tanks).
Representatives of ASEM Partners’ Ministries / government agencies are nominated by ASEM Partners.
The Seminar also welcomes representatives from national human rights institutions (NHRIs), as well as from relevant international /regional / inter-governmental organisations.
The format of the 3-day Seminar will consist of plenary sessions, and thematic working groups which will be under the Chatham House Rule.
Working language of the Seminar is English.
To register interest or to recommend an expert, please fill out the online form available here. Please note that while all expressions of interest and recommendations are duly considered, they do not guarantee invitation. Final decisions will be based on factors such as expertise, geographic distribution and gender balance and will be taken by the Steering Committee of the Human Rights Seminar.
Based on the working group discussions and the contributions of the participants, two main outputs will be produced
- the main recommendations of the working groups, which are disseminated to 53 ASEM Partners in the form of ‘Key Messages’ &
- a detailed summary of the working group discussions (Seminar report)
The outcomes from the Seminar are disseminated to a wider audience through Seminar Publication and Outreach activities.
The Seminar is a unique platform for open, non-confrontational and interactive dialogue between civil society, official representatives of ASEM Partner countries, intergovernmental organisations and national human rights institutes in Asia and Europe on a theme chosen by the Steering Committee of the Seminar series each year.
This Seminar series is co-organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (nominated by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
For information on the past Seminars, please follow this link.