2021 Human Asia Global Human Rights School – Envisioning the Post-COVID-19 World through UN On 20 February 2021, Human Asia hosted its first Global Human Rights School of the year under the theme, ‘Envisioning the Post-COVID-19 World through UN’. The guest speaker for the event was Oh Joon, the Professor at Kyung Hee University (current Chair of Save the Children Korea and Special Advisor of Human Asia, former South Korean Ambassador to the UN). Due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the session was held online via Zoom and a total of 104 young people participated in the event. After a brief introduction to Human Asia, the session began with Professor Oh Joon’s lecture on the post-COVID-19 era and the issues encountered by the international community and the UN. The session covered how the world after the pandemic would look like, the short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19, and the role of the UN in global governance. Professor Oh Joon emphasized the importance of strengthening global governance and raised some pressing issues that need to be addressed by the UN. We thank all of our participants who joined us for the Global Human Rights School and we look forward to seeing you again in the next session! Thank you.
On Monday, December 11th, Human Asia received the donation of 5 million won from ‘Match is on’. This donation was raised through “Dribble Time Attack”, a social contribution contents organized by ‘The2Top’ and ‘Jugamos’ in 2020. ‘Jugamos’, a non-profit organization founded to develop social contribution projects through sports, has been donating participation fee and PR revenue by holding charity events. It has also been contributing to the spread of domestic and foreign donation culture by producing various contents related to soccer with ‘The2Top’. ‘The2Top’ declared that they will continue to strive to develop domestic and international donation culture by producing and providing contents designed for social contribution. We, Human Asia, sincerely thank Match is on, The2Top and Jugamos for their warm support. We promise to work our best to ensure that the valuable donation would be used in a meaningful way.
Apart But Together: Human Asia 2020 Due to the COVID-19 crisis, 2020 was a tough year for everybody. Human Asia was no exception. Nevertheless, thanks to your interest and support, Human Asia was consistently able to conduct human rights advocacy and human rights-based development activities. Below is our yearly 2020 video , showing how Human Asia's partners and supporters collaborated to support regional human rights protection from a distance. We hope all of you will keep an eye on Human Asia's 2021 closely and support us continually in the new year. Click here to watch the video!
EUM Research Institute Inauguration Ceremony 1On 29 December, Human Asia attended the EUM Research Institute Inauguration Ceremony via Zoom. Human Asia is supporting the establishment of the EUM Research Institute under our CLS Scholarship program, with several of our past and present students being involved with the institute’s research. EUM Research Institute is a research organisation composed of North Korean researchers with specialised knowledge and capabilities in various academic fields. Most of the researchers at this centre have experienced both the North and South Korean regimes, and therefore, above all else, pursue the principles of human dignity and democracy. The researchers combined their experiences in North Korea and their knowledge accumulated in South Korea to help them prepare for peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula.After the respective staff members and supporters of the institute (including Human Asia’s Secretary-General Jeongum Choi) introduced themselves, the ceremony covered the background and inspiration behind the creation of the institute and its future plans for its official commencement in 2021. We wish the EUM Research Institute the best of luck with all its activities in the upcoming year.
Field Survey with Mangyan Communities on Mindoro Island for 2021 Digital Divide Project From 15 - 19 December, Sorok Uni Foundation conducted a field survey on behalf of Human Asia in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro Province, Mindoro Island, the Philippines. Sorok Uni interviewed Mangyan parents, students and teachers, along with local villagers, to learn more about their thoughts on education, technology, and digital literacy. We would like to express our thanks once again to our partner Sorok Uni Foundation for helping us to conduct the survey, and hope that COVID-19 will improve enough for us to go with you next time! ⠀
We would like to introduce our new intern, who will be working with us from December 2020 until February 2021. Yeri Lee Hello! My name is Yeri Lee, working at Human Asia through the Citi-Kyung Hee NGO internship programme. My major is Political Science and Diplomacy and I took classes related to minority politics, global terrorism, international conflicts, etc. By doing so, I became interested in the international cooperation to solve these problems and the human rights issues of individuals in the grand framework of the world. I have got a good opportunity to be an intern at Human Asia, and I want to learn about human rights protection and development and get experience.
On December 17, 2020, the Jeongam Foundation and Human Asia held the 2020 Global Vision Scholarship Award Ceremony. The Jeongam Foundation runs the Global Vision Scholarship Program every year to improve financial support for humanities and social sciences with a particular focus on human rights. This scholarship program, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, selects excellent students as scholarship recipients so that students can participate in establishing and contributing to the regional human rights protection system in Asia. The Jeongam Foundation and Human Asia will continue to empower and support talented students who will contribute to advocating and promoting human rights at the regional, national and global levels. Human Asia will work arduously to ensure respect for human rights not only across Asia but also worldwide. We would like to congratulate the scholarship recipients and express our sincere gratitude to all those who applied to our scholarship program.
Human Asia organized the forum titled ‘Business and Human Rights: Trends and Challenges' at the Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on December 4, 2020 in tandem with the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. The forum, which was the first-ever to be co-hosted by the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, provided a space to facilitate discussion for both state and business enterprises to more effectively implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and enhance corporate responsibility. As the supply chain of companies has recently expanded overseas due to ongoing globalization, the issue of human rights management by business enterprises has emerged as an international agenda. The roles and responsibilities of business enterprises and governments for human rights management are being consequently growing in importance and being internationally emphasised. Accordingly, in South Korea, the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea signed a MOU on May 26 to promise mutual cooperation for the domestic growth of effective human rights management, so that human rights management can further grow and be realized in private companies beyond state-owned enterprises. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, all overseas and some domestic speakers attended online. General attendees also attended online. Sign language interpretation was provided and the forum material book was produced with VOICEYE (voice-speaking) embedded for enhanced access. In Session 1, moderated by Sang-Soo Lee (Professor of the Graduate School of Law at Sogang University and Executive Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center), activists from international civil society groups were invited to discuss various cases of human rights abuses and violations in business operations. In Session 2, moderated by Changrok Soh, (President of Human Asia, Member of the UN Human Rights Committee on Civil and Political rights and Professor of the Graduate School of International Studies at Korea University), experts and government officials were invited to discuss international trends in business and human rights. Additionally, Seryeon Ryan Song, (Professor of the Graduate School of Law at Kyung Hee University and Executive Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center) emphasized the necessity of establishing a stand-alone National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights, and legalizing mandatory human rights due diligence. Following this, Minwoo Kim (Research Professor at the International Human Rights Center of Korea University and Managing Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center) presented an analysis of the disclosure status of the human rights impacts assessment reports by state-owned enterprises, which was conducted by the Asia Business and Human Rights Center for the last three months. In addition, he emphasized that an increasing number of state-owned enterprises have been carrying out human rights management on the basis of the manual published by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Changrok Soh promised to resolve the relevant issues discussed in this forum through the Asia Business and Human Rights Center housed at Human Asia and emphasized the need for the direction and consistency of government policies.
Happy Human Rights Day from Human Asia! We had a very busy day despite COVID-19! Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We started our day at 10:00am with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Seven young activists represented Human Asia and sang the Korean National Anthem at the virtual online celebration for the 72nd Anniversary of the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They did a great job! From 11:00am, Hyunchan Jung, our Program Officer for the Policy Research Team, gave a presentation on Human Asia’s work this year and businesses and human rights at the Virtual Human Rights Day Virtual Reception event, hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea. At 3:00pm, Professor Minwoo Kim (Managing Director of Human Asia’s Asia Business and Human Rights Center and Research Professor at Korea University Human Rights Center) virtually participated as a discussant at the ‘Sustainable Human Rights Policies: Public Hearing on the 2nd Plan for the Promotion of Human Rights in Seongbuk-gu’. Although COVID-19 has changed the way we’ve tried to promote human rights for all in Asia this year, we were very grateful for these opportunities to actively participate in Human Rights Day this year. We will keep working to create a free and open Asia for all.Stay safe! P.S. Thank you again to the above organisations and involved individuals for your invitations and support.
Philippines Donation Campaigns for Families in Poverty: And They're Off! Thank you so much for your kind donations and support! Human Asia received over 1100 items of underwear items and 400 sandals to send to families living in poverty in the Philippines. 14 boxes of donated items will make their way to Manila on Wednesday by boat. After arriving in Manila, they will be distributed by our local partner Sorok Uni Foundation to families on Mindoro Island.
UAEM Korea Monthly Opinion Column UAEM Korea contributed their first article for their monthly column in the Korean newspaper 'NGO News' on November 23, 2020, entitled “No One is Safe, Until Everyone is Safe”. In this article, UAEM urged South Korea to send more active support and participation in the COVAX facility. See below for a summary of the article in English, or click here to read the original article in Korean. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Moderna have claimed that their phase 3 clinical trials show up to 90% vaccine efficacy. As it seems that the development of the COVID-19 vaccine is finalized, the global community is now seeing a first glimmer of hope to an end of COVID-19. However, the phenomenon known as “vaccine nationalism” has now begun to emerge with high-income countries hoarding vaccines and their components for production. This, in turn, is leaving out middle-income and low-income countries with poor purchasing power. To alleviate the inequality in vaccine distribution according to purchasing capacity, international organizations related to public health, including the World Health Organization (WHO), jointly launched the COVAX Facility (COVAX). However, COVAX is far below the funding target - 2 billion USD - which is required by the end of this year for stable supply. In terms of short-term economic gains and losses, there may be questions about the justification of supporting COVAX. While this may be true, in the long run, active investment is still required in COVAX as it may be an opportunity to build the infrastructure to prevent further pandemic(s). In this situation of world crisis, the ROK needs to provide proactive domestic and international support, and participate actively. Korea has led a successful response against COVID-19, earning the title of “K-방역 (Korean Response to Disease Prevention)”. But we need to keep in mind that “No one is safe, until everyone is safe,” as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus put it. Korea is indeed contributing to the international efforts to combat COVID-19, such as actively helping the effort to develop and secure vaccines. However, when comparing with the neighboring Japan, it appears that other countries are trying to contribute more to the international eradication effort. Japan has donated 130 million USD to COVAX AMC, which is 13 times what Korea contributed (10 million USD). The Republic of Korea should contribute and even more actively participate in the international effort to eradicate COVID-19. While keeping in mind the short-term and long-term benefits of COVAX, Korea should help vaccine development, and make more efforts to close the inequality gap in vaccine supply between high and middle/low-income countries.
Human Asia & UAEM Korea Visit MSF Korea On Tuesday 17 November, Human Asia and UAEM Korea paid a visit to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières; Doctors Without Borders). During the meet, after everyone introduced themselves to one another, the students and Human Asia received expert consulting from MSF on the A2M movement along with current domestic issues, and spoke about different ways to cooperate on improving domestic awareness on A2M. Thank you again to MSF Korea for kindly hosting us. We look forward to working with you more in the future.
We would like to introduce our new interns, who will be working with our International Coordination Team from November until April 2021. Seongjun (James) Lee Hello! My name is Seongjun Lee (James) and I will be working as a Project Intern for the International Cooperation Team of Human Asia. With rapid technological and scientific development, various social problems that were unthinkable in the past have become our reality. In order to solve the various problems presented by modern society, close and nimble cooperation is essential not only between NGOs, but also people and governments, businesses and activists alike. As a Project Intern for Human Asia’s International Cooperation Team, I will do my best to carry out work with communication and cooperation, helping to achieve Human Asia's vision and mission of shining the light of human rights to Asia and the world. Also, I will try to work together steadily so that we can all coexist in a better world. Minju Demi Kim Hi, my name is Minju. Minju means democracy in Korean; so my English name’s Demi. I am a new intern of HumanAsia for A2M and EAYAN Networking projects. As a kid who always got in trouble for reading past bedtime, I’ve loved learning and writing about different stories about the world. With the journalistic ambition to know more about social issues and let people around me get to know the news better, I was hugely inspired with Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy for education rights in 2010. Since then, I’ve been building my own career path that could converge my interest in human rights and multimodal communication skills.I’m mainly interested in gender-based human rights, especially on the relationship between education disparities and different genders. I’m also studying migrant issues and rights of refugees.
UAEM Korea: First YouTube Shooting On Saturday 14 November, Human Asia and UAEM Korea met Mr. Kang Juseong (Advisor, Kanghan Law, Former President, Health Right Network) in a studio in Sinsa to film the first video for UAEM Korea’s upcoming YouTube channel. Mr. Kang is noted as one of the first A2M activists in South Korea following the Gleevec/Novartis case in the early 2000s. Disputes over Gleevec started with the marketing authorization of the medicine in Korea in 2001. In May 2001, Novartis asked that Gleevec’s price be set in South Korea at US$ 2,400/month, using as reference prices the wealthier A7 countries (US, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and Italy). The Korean National Health Insurance decided to set the price of Gleevec at 17,862 KRW per pill (US$ 14) or 2,143,440 KRW per month (US$ 1,680), prompting Novartis to retract plans to enter the South Korean market. Mr. Kang had fought for democracy under South Korea’s authoritarian regime and later fell ill to leukemia. He started a fight for a more public interest-oriented medicines governance and appropriate counter-balance to the industry weight. He went on to be the founding president of the Korea Leukemia Patients group.Thanks in large part to his leadership, civil society organizations and patients kept the pressure up and demanded in 2002 that the government issue a compulsory license (CL) for Gleevec. Back-and-forths continued between the government and Novartis, but in the spring of 2002, the Korean government gave into Novartis’ demands and approved a price of 23,045 KRW, a mere 10% discount on what had been demanded by the company. In March 2003, the Korea Industry Property office dismissed the request of CL for Gleevec. Though this battle was lost, the A2M movement in Korea was born.UAEM Korea’s upcoming YouTube video will include Mr. Kang’s thoughts on greater access to health care for patients under Korea's health insurance, access to Gleevec for leukemia patients,and student activism on A2M. Mr. Kang was also kind enough to talk to the students about their work and A2M in Korea after the interview. We would like to thank Mr. Kang for filming the video with us and wish him good health, and ask everyone to watch the upcoming YouTube video!* Masks were worn throughout the shooting and removed only for photographs.
Human Asia Interview with KOICA On Friday 23 October, Human Asia had an interview with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on our new project proposal: ‘Mitigating the Digital Divide in Education for Ethnic Minority Mangyan Students in the Philippines (Emergency funding support for the right to education during the COVID-19 pandemic)’. If successful, the new project will aim to resolve socioeconomic disparities of ethnic minorities through overcoming the digital educational divide and funding formal education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst the diverse potential measures to address socioeconomic disparities of ethnic minorities in the Philippines, Human Asia decided to focus in particular on enhancing the digital capacities of local students. This was primarily due to its compatibility with the goal of the Philippine government to ‘educate a future oriented generation for the 21st century’. The project also fits in line with Human Asia’s organisational goals to promote and enhance ‘digital rights’ in the new era of emerging technologies. Although the Department of Education under the Philippine government is currently planning to combine both offline and online classes for the 2020-2022, Mangyan students will likely be violated of their right to education within this system, as they lack digital infrastructure and face numerous difficulties with learning in a home environment. We hope that our new project will prevent young Mangyan students from facing this violation of their rights.
Human Asia invites you to join us in our new donation campaigns and make a real difference to a family in poverty in the Philippines today. Children in the Philippines right now are walking across harsh terrain in intense weather to get to school - with no shoes. For families in poverty in the Philippines, well-fitting underwear is a luxury, not a basic item. Most families can’t access new underwear when they need it. We can help make a difference in their lives. We are currently collecting underwear (all sizes, shapes and types accepted!) and sandals (waterproof shoes, slip ons, slippers etc) for children, mothers and families living in extreme poverty in the Philippines. We are looking to collect 500 items of underwear and 500 pairs of shoes before Christmas 2020! If you are interested in donating new or gently used items to help those less fortunate this winter, please refer to the posters here (Korean only) for further information. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive information in English.