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2017: Moving Forward

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The new year begins with new challenges and new hopes for the human rights community in Asia. With the rise of authoritarian tendencies and neo-conservative forces in many countries, these are indeed challenging times for human rights, democracy and development. In many countries, human rights defenders and human rights practitioners are facing multiple challenges from state and non-state actors. There are efforts to restrict civic freedoms and civic spaces both by state and non-state actors. However, there are also new hopes in Asia as many more young people are realising the need to stand up for rights and democracy in many countries. The emerging solidarity among human rights organisations, civil society organisations and social movements at the national and regional level also is sign of hope in 2017.

It is precisely due to the new challenges and rays of hope, that FORUM-ASIA has an important role to play in the new year. FORUM-ASIA is the largest membership based human rights network in the Asia-Pacific region. FORUM-ASIA is also one of the most respected south-based human rights resource organisation in this region. Hence, the new challenges in 2017 also provide a great opportunity for us to deepen our work at the national and sub-regional level and also expand the sphere of our influence at the sub-regional and international level. We hope to play strategic leadership role for the human rights community, civil society organisations and civic social movements in the region.

This new year will be an important step forward to passionately integrate our strategic objectives and priorities as envisioned in the strategy paper of FORUM-ASIA. In 2017, FORUM ASIA is committed to work with a new generation of young human rights defenders and to nurture an Asian youth solidarity forum for human rights and development. We also hope to strengthen the links between human rights and sustainable development, particularly in the context of the sustainable development goals. We would also play a role in bridging knowledge, communication, advocacy and human rights actions at the national, regional and international level. FORUM-ASIA will also revitalise its efforts to strengthen civil and political rights along with economic, social and cultural rights in the region. This would involve working with knowledge leaders, media practitioners, advocacy networks and new coalitions to promote human rights education and new civic alliances for strengthening human rights discourse and practice at multiple levels.

We are indeed privileged to have a young, energetic and passionate team working together to promote and protect human rights. We are proud of our members, partners and supporters committed to standing up for human rights, social-economic justice, democratic governance and sustainable development despite new challenges for human rights and development.

We hope to be a learning organisation, learning everyday from human rights practices on the ground. We also hope to be an active bridging organisation between the grassroots human rights movement, national level human rights advocacy, regional and international level advocacy and action. We hope to play an active leadership role within the region and also at the global level, along with other human rights organisations and networks in the global south.

We hope to make change happen within and beyond to inspire a new generation of human rights advocacy and action, lead by millions of young people across Asia. We hope to nurture and strengthen new solidarity for hope, peace, democracy and development in Asia. We hope to work together with young people, women, civil society movement, universities, national human rights organisations, United Nations and government agencies to ensure human rights for all, everywhere for everyone. We are committed to standing up for the rights of the most marginalised people, minority communities and all those who are at the receiving end of unjust and unequal power relations. FORUM-ASIA will be a force to make change happen within and beyond for human rights and development in Asia.

We will continue to dream a world where every person can live a life of dignity, human rights and peace. We will be committed to working with and supporting women human rights defenders and human rights defenders. We will move forward with imagination, innovation and new solidarity for human rights and development.

Written by John Samuel, Executive Director, FORUM-ASIA