Human rights are in freefall across a number of countries in South East Asia. Last year, the Burmese military carried out a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing against
Human rights are in freefall across a number of countries in South East Asia. Last year, the Burmese military carried out a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State causing more than 650,000 Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs” has claimed more than 12,000 victims, predominantly the urban poor, including children. And the Cambodian government’s broad political crackdown in 2017 targeting the political opposition, independent media and human rights groups has effectively extinguished the country’s flickering democratic system at the expense of basic rights.
Australia’s 2017 White Paper includes the goals of “promoting an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo–Pacific region in which the rights of all states are respected” as well as the need to protect and promote the international rules based order. So what role does Australia play in addressing these problems and what more could the Australian government be doing?
To discuss these matters, we are delighted to welcome Elaine Pearson.
Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch. Based in Sydney, she works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. She regularly briefs journalists, politicians and government officials, appears on television and radio programs, testifies before parliamentary committees and speaks at public events. She is an adjunct lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales. From 2007 to 2012 she was the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division based in New York.
Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Elaine worked for the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kathmandu and London. She is an expert on migration and human trafficking issues and sits on the board of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. Pearson holds degrees in law and arts from Australia’s Murdoch University and obtained her Master’s degree in public policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
She writes frequently for publications including Harper’s Bazaar, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal.
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