Human Rights in Advocacy for Development and Business
Program Dates: 19-28 May (2015)
Location: Yangon, Myanmar
Since 2004, the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) has organised annual regional training programs for Indigenous Peoples’ advocates in the Asia Pacific region. These programs have been developed in response to concerns and issues impacting on Indigenous Peoples across the region. While there is much regional diversity, many vulnerable groups share concerns about forced evictions, loss of livelihoods and violence associated with the impact of rapid economic development. The benefits of development often elude the groups most in need of access to services essential for ensuring their human rights. In recent years there has been an increasing interest in participating in these regional training programs from groups in Myanmar.
As is the case elsewhere in the region, significant environmental and social threats, as well as the inequitable distribution of the benefits of development, are issues that resonate for many ethnic groups in post 2010 Myanmar. The transition from military rule to political liberalisation, which is seeing significant reform and an influx of new international businesses and finance, is also accompanied by the loss of access to land and livelihoods for many groups, notably those living in resource rich special economic zones (SEZ) or in the path of energy pipelines. Displaced by mining, logging and natural gas projects the number of internally displaced people has been growing, exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions, threatening the progress of political reform and entrenching the impoverishment of affected communities.
It was in response to these concerns, and with the encouragement of some of DTP’s alumni in Myanmar, that DTP organized its 2014 Indigenous Regional program in Yangon. To be inclusive of all ethnic nationalities in Myanmar and acknowledging the role of the private sector as the primary focus in many of the shared concerns of Indigenous peoples in the region, this program was titled Human Rights in Advocacy for Development and Business.
Twenty-five participants from different countries in the region completed the 10-day intensive training programs. Fourteen of the participants came from a number of states throughout Myanmar and they were joined by community advocates from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan.
The program provided participants with comprehensive and practical knowledge of international human rights standards and the mechanisms that can be used to protect and promote human rights. Participants were given opportunities to develop and practice their skills in strategic advocacy, campaigning and lobbying, and engaging the media effectively. Through the program’s participatory approach, involving group work, role-plays, forum theatre, facilitated discussions and individual presentations, the participants explored the practical application to their own communities and contexts of the principles, concepts, methods and mechanisms introduced by the team of expert trainers.
Human Rights in Advocacy for Development and Businesswas organized in partnership with Equality Myanmar and Foundation for Education and Development. The program was made possible through financial assistance from the Scully Foundation, Oxfam Australia and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. DTP would like to thank these organisations and the trainers for their support.