Conversation Series

Human Rights in Asia: Has Authoritarian Governance Undermined Progress?

On 9 May 2024, UNU will host a conversation with Elaine Pearson, Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division.

- Asia/Tokyo
Open to public

On 9 May 2024, UNU will host “Human Rights in Asia: Has Authoritarian Governance Undermined Progress?”, a conversation with Elaine Pearson, Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. This event will start at 18:30 in the 2F Reception Hall at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. 

Human rights issues in Asia today are characterized by a combination of regression and progress, being influenced by a complex interplay of geopolitical, social and economic factors. Many parts of the region are witnessing a troubling rise in authoritarianism, which often correlates with a clampdown on freedoms, including restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and the press. Simultaneously, issues like systemic racism, gender inequality and rights for LGBTQ+ communities remain persistent challenges even in more democratic societies. Despite these issues, significant progress has been made in some areas, and renewed efforts at human rights reforms inspire hope for the future. 

Elaine Pearson will join UNU Chief of Staff Michael Baldock to shed light on some of the most pressing human rights issues in Asia today, examining the situation in various countries. How has authoritarian governance affected human rights in the region? What are some of the pressing human rights issues in more democratic states? Is there reason to be optimistic for human rights in the region? 

The UNU Conversation Series aims to foster audience participation. You are encouraged to engage with the speakers during the conversation and at the reception that will follow, where all event attendees are invited to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks while exchanging ideas and making new contacts.

Please note that this event will be in English. Advance registration (by 8 May) is required. Please click on the REGISTER button above to access the online registration page. 

Please be prepared to present identification at check-in. 

We also ask guests to be aware of the following event-related policies:

About the Speaker 

Elaine Pearson is Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, overseeing the work of the division in more than 20 countries. She joined Human Rights Watch in 2007 and was formerly the Asia Deputy Director and Australia Director. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Pearson worked for the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and London. 

She has conducted numerous human rights investigations in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. Pearson writes frequently for a range of publications and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, Foreign Policy, and the Washington Post. 

She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales and on the board of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.

Pearson holds degrees in law and arts from Murdoch University and obtained her master's degree in public policy at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs. She is the author of Chasing Wrongs and Rights, a human rights travelogue, published by Simon and Schuster in September 2022.

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