Human Rights and Trade: A Capacity Program for Community Advocates (Malaysia, 28th March - 4th April, 2008)

Human Rights and Trade: A Capacity Program for Community Advocates (Malaysia, 28th March – 4th April, 2008)


 

The Diplomacy Training Program’s second regional program on Human Rights and Trade, was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 28  March – 4 April, 2008. The program brought together 27 community advocates from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Pakistan, Fiji, Nauru, Australia and the Solomon Islands.  The program was held in partnership with Malaysia’s Pusat Komas (Community Communication Centre).

The program explored the relationship between human rights and trade and enabled participants to examine in particular the positive and negative impacts of trade and free trade agreements on human rights.  In addition, it sought to enhance practical skills in human rights advocacy so as to build capabilities of civil society advocates to effectively participate in public debate and policy dialogue on trade issues. While human rights and trade have traditionally been conceived as separate issues, international trade, as the largest influence on development, clearly has consequences for human rights, and for economic social and cultural rights in particular.  This capacity building program was a fruitful collaboration between many individuals and organizations across the Asia-Pacific region in drawing out and making concrete such consequences.  This report aims to record a snapshot of the collective learning that took place in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the diverse range of issues it raised.

The participants were drawn from a diverse range of countries, and backgrounds in human rights and trade issues.  While all are experienced in their respective fields, for many the use and potential of the international human rights framework as an effective tool to influence governments in trade negotiations was a new way of thinking, perhaps partly due to the fact that human rights and trade have been traditionally perceived and treated as distinct concepts in policy discussions.

 

The Project Report is here.