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Webinar Series: The Status of Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic in Southeast Asia

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FORUM-ASIA, and its partners Solidarity for ASEAN Peoples’ Advocacy and SHAPE-SEA, are proud to present a six-part webinar series throughout April and May 2020 on: The Status of Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic in Southeast Asia.

In the ASEAN region, confirmed cases have surpassed 10,000. As the spread of the virus increases exponentially, swift government action to uphold human rights is imperative to effectively respond to the pandemic in a way that respects human dignity. Alarmingly however, ASEAN Member States have used the crisis as a pretext to violate fundamental rights and freedoms.

Human rights defenders, civil society organisations, academics and interested individuals are invited to join online discussions via Zoom and Facebook Live.


Webinar Session 1: Human Rights Situation of the COVID-19 Response in ASEAN

Date: 7 April 2020
Time: 2 – 4 pm (GMT +7)
Organiser: FORUM-ASIA

Click here to register! RVSP by 10am (GMT +7) to receive the link to join.

The webinar provides an overview of government responses to COVID-19, and discuss how ‘emergency decrees’ and lock-downs in ASEAN countries violate international standards of human rights. Specific aspects that shall be explored include: Wellbeing and safety of human rights defenders; discrimination faced by vulnerable groups in accessing testing and treatment; clampdown on the freedom of speech; potential government abuse of power given ambiguous and draconian policies; and the effectiveness of military engagement in handling a public health crisis.


Moderator: Cornelius Hanung (Programme Officer, FORUM-ASIA)

Special Closing remarks: Clément Nyaletsossi Voule (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association)


Webinar Session 2: ASEAN Community and Covid-19- an Assessment of a Sick Region’s Future

Date: 13 April 2020
Time: 2 – 4pm (GM +7)
Organiser: SHAPE-SEA

Click here to register!

The webinar aims to explore the relevance of ASEAN, as a regional organisation, in light of political, social, and economic downturns caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions shall be centered around the strengths, weaknesses and potential reforms for ASEAN, specifically its sectoral bodies on human rights and health.


Webinar Session 3: A Feminist Assessment of the ASEAN Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Date: 21 April 2020
Time: 1 – 3pm (GM +7)
Organisers: FORUM-ASIA and the Asia Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)

Click here to register!

In addition to the cost of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rapid surge in violence against women and girls in Asia and across the world. Measures taken by ASEAN Governments to address the pandemic fail to address the challenges and needs of women and people of different gender identities who face multiple forms of discrimination.

Being the regional inter-governmental body mandated to protect the rights of women and children, what is the role of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC)in responding to this crisis?

The webinar will address above questions and discuss a gender lens to ASEAN’s COVID-19 response, the protection of women’s rights in the Philippines and LGBTIQ rights in Vietnam in COVID-19 response measures, offline and online domestic violence against women, guidelines and good practices for gender transformative principles and recommendations to the ACWC.


Moderator: Rachel Arinii Judhistari, East Asia and ASEAN Programme Manager, FORUM-ASIA

Special closing remarks: Diedrah Kelly, Ambassador of Canada to ASEAN


Webinar Session 4: Redefining and Strengthening human rights activism during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Date: 29 April 2020
2 – 4pm (GMT +7)
FORUM-ASIA,  Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC-ASIA), and the ASEAN Youth Forum

While the public is advised to take a step back on their daily routine, human rights work including monitoring and documentation as well as advocacy to challenge repressive laws and bills must continue. With the limitation of actual space to gather, travel restriction, as well as impose of quarantine, what are the alternatives to continue our struggle? What will be the outlook for this year and beyond? For discussion purposes, please consider the rise of innovative ideas among the youth as reflected in this news item.


Webinar Session 5: Building community resilience

Date: 8 May 2020
Time: 3 – 5pm (GMT +7)

Organisers: FORUM-ASIA, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, iDefend Philippines and CIVICUS

Click here to register!

This webinar will look into these emerging questions on human rights as the world deals with COVID-19:

  • What must states do to ensure that civic space is protected during this crisis, and in the long-term?
  • How can we best adapt to the rapidly changing technologies and norms around us?
  • What opportunities are there for civil society and human rights defenders who must now navigate a setting with increased restrictions, and often, increased state powers?


Webinar Session 6: SEEING THE INVISIBLE AND FORGOTTEN AMIDST THE COVID-19 CRISIS – Impact on Conflict-Affected, Displaced and Marginalized Communities, and on the Conflict Dynamics in the ASEAN

Date: 15 May 2020
Time: 2 – 4pm (GMT +7)
FORUM-ASIA, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)

Click here to register!

This session is concerned with communities where overt violence and political instability are present; where economic capacities and social capital are fragile; and where this global health challenge intersects with wars or political conditions. This session aims to discuss and answer the following:

  • How will/does this pandemic and the states’ emergency response affect the peace and human security situation in your countries, especially the conflict dynamics of existing over armed conflicts and the conflict-affected communities, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless and internally-displaced persons?
  • How are community actors and peacebuilders responding to the outbreak?
  • What concrete steps should states do to ensure human security and conflict sensitivity are central in their emergency responses and what can the ASEAN as a ‘people-centered and a caring and sharing community’ do to facilitate a decisive, coordinated regional response to this crisis?


Download a poster of the session highlights here: