HANOI, Vietnam – From 11 to 13 September 2018, Émilie Pradichit, Founder and Director of Manushya Foundation, attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN in Hanoi, Vietnam, as a human rights advocate and representative of civil society, to stress the need to centre local communities’ needs and the respect of human rights at the heart of economic and sustainable development.
The central aim of the event was to discuss the socio-economic and geopolitical challenges that have emerged within the region, which development has greatly accelerated since the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). However, at the same time, inequality worsens, civic space shrinks and adverse environmental impacts aggravate.
On 12 September 2018, Émilie joined other experts at the, ‘ASEAN Pluralism: Under Threat?’ webcasted dialogue, hosted by Malaysian leading television news ‘Astro Awani’. When asked “What hope is there for pluralism in ASEAN?” by Kamarul Bahrin Haron, renown news Anchor and moderator of the session, Émilie commented that there is “hope only when we empower marginalised communities to sit at the same table as decision-makers, to be heard and visible to inform policies which respect their human rights." To “Is there a need for a new leadership in the region?”, Émilie commented that there is a lot of potential for new leadership in the ASEAN region, and advocated for ASEAN to invest in women and youth by stressing the urgent need to shift “from a patriarchal society to a society that embraces women leadership and youth leadership. Those especially from marginalised communities have so much to offer" as they fully understand the struggles of their communities and can meaningfully provide sustainable solutions for peace, if only they are included in development processes.
Émilie remarked on the hypocrisy of Southeast Asian countries that commit to international human rights standards and to respecting human rights at the UN Human Rights Council but close their eyes to the Rohingya crisis and silence human rights defenders. This was reflected at the WEF itself: while controversial Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to speak at the gathering, two leading human rights defenders were blocked from speaking at the WEF. Debbie Stothard, Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was denied entry to Vietnam, and was arbitrarily detained and deported from Hanoi international airport by the Vietnamese Government. Minar Pimple, Senior Director of Global Operations at Amnesty International, was also denied a visa to travel to Vietnam.
On 13 September 2018, Émilie also participated in a panel discussion called, “Innovation Under Stress”, focusing on the increasing restrictions imposed by ASEAN authorities and the innovative strategies applied by civil society to resist such closed political environments. It was an opportunity to showcase the bottom-up empowerment approach applied by Manushya Foundation, to ‘Engage – Mobilise – Empower’ local Agents of Change to be at the centre of the human rights and sustainable development responses. Émilie also emphasised the importance of empowering women and tackling gender inequality to reduce poverty and achieve stability.
The participation of Manushya Foundation at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF), allowed Manushya to bring a human rights perspective into a business-oriented gathering mainly attended by Head of States and powerful companies. It was critical for Manushya to speak up for those unseen and express their frustration regarding the government’s broken promises and growing businesses’ abuses and profit over people’s rights. The event also helped build the visibility, credibility, and necessity of Manushya Foundation’s mission and projects in Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand.
Watch the Webcast of “ASEAN Pluralism: Under Threat?”
- Kamarul Bahrin Haron, Astro AWANI
- Grace Natalie, Indonesian Solidarity Party
- Emilie Pradichit, Manushya Foundation
- John Riady, Lippo Group
- Kyoichi Sugino, Religions for Peace
- Miguel Syjuco, New York University Abu Dhabi
Access pictures of the event here.