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.
Meet the CSOs Interview - Hyunchan Jung, Policy & Research Team, Human Asia Hyunchan Jung, Program Officer with the Policy & Research Team at Human Asia, was recently interviewed and featured on the Korea-EU CSO Network (KEN)’s homepage and newsletter. The interview covered the history and mission of Human Asia; our strategy for raising awareness and engaging citizens on human rights issues, and Hyunchan’s personal background and interest in becoming a regional activist for human rights along with his thoughts on European civil society groups. We would like to thank KEN for highlighting Hyunchan’s continual efforts with Human Asia in improving regional human rights situations in Asia. You can read the interview here: https://en.kencso.org/humanasia-hyunchanjung
The 2020 4th Human Rights English Essay Competition Presentation Ceremony Presentation 1: Second Runner Up'Racism and Xenophobia in the age of COVID-19: crafting a global response to counter the rise in discrimination' - TaeHwan Alexander Kim On Monday 28 September, Human Asia hosted the Presentation Ceremony for the 2020 4th Human Rights English Essay Competition. The ceremony was held virtually via Zoom, and was attended by participants of the competition, the top three entries, UAEM Korea students, Human Asia, and our guest judges - Daniel Connolly (Assistant Professor, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies) Buhm-Suk Baek (Professor, Kyung-Hee College of International Studies) and Sinhye Ha (External Relations Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières). Presentation 2: First Runner Up'COVID-19 and Human Rights: A Viral Illness Reveals Societal Ills' - Hyoim ShinAfter some words of welcome from Human Asia’s President Changrok Soh, the judges began the event by providing some general feedback on the top ten entries for the competition. Each of the top three entries - TaeHwan Alexander Kim (Second Runner Up) Hyoim Shin (First Runner Up) and Seokhwan Park (Grand Prize Winner) - then gave a presentation on their essay entries. The judges provided more detailed feedback and areas to improve upon for future academic research essays.Presentation 3: Grand Prize Winner'Human Rights and the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines' - Seokhwan ParkPlease see the attached file above to read the winning essay:Human Rights and the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines Seokhwan Park Abstract: This paper highlights the importance of developing a system for the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Although the rate of development of COVID-19 vaccines has increased greatly, discussion of how to achieve an equitable distribution of vaccines to ensure everyone’s safety has yet to transpire. Previous studies have evaluated the equity of the distribution of vaccines during the H1N1 pandemic in 2011 and suggested that the inequitable distribution of vaccines poses a risk to the residents of poor regions and widens the gap between the poor and the rich on a global scale. The already active financial race to develop COVID-19 vaccines among wealthy nations generally excludes less wealthy nations from participation in the early stages of vaccine distribution, including price negotiation. Given the high level of medical urgency, nations are likely to prioritize domestic medical needs, leading to nationalism. Therefore, wealthy nations should provide greater political leadership. To do so, the WHO and other international organizations need to place increased political pressure on the most dominant countries. In addition, more flexibility in intellectual property laws and an effective data sharing system can effectively prevent vaccines from becoming monopolized by a few nations. Continuous political negotiations will develop practical solutions, such as tax exemptions and government subsidies for manufacturing companies, that can be applied immediately. Thank you again to everyone who took part in the event.
The 15th Teenage Human Rights School: Drug Accessibility and Human Rights On Saturday 26 September, Human Asia hosted the 15th Teenage Human Rights School under the theme ‘Drug Accessibility and Human Rights’. UAEM Korea acted as the guest speaker for this session. The event was originally planned to be held offline in May 2020; however, with COVID-19 the event was held online in September instead. 20 middle and high school students virtually participated in the event. The first half of the school consisted of a one hour lecture from UAEM Korea, covering: the development process and price markups of essential medicines; accessibility to essential medicines and human rights, marketing strategies from pharmaceutical companies, and crisis inequalities within the COVID-19 context. The participants were then separated into four breakout rooms to hear the participants’ thoughts both on the lecture context and on the pre-assigned book review on Chapter 3 from the book ‘Take 30 Minutes After Eating’. A representative from each group then shared these thoughts with all the participants at the end. Thank you again to everyone who participated in the school.
Human Asia President Changrok Soh elected as the first Korean member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Changrok Soh, President of Human Asia, has been elected as the first Korean member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The election was held on September 17 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Changrok Soh received the support of 117 out of 173 member states of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). Our President’s entry to the Human is particularly meaningful given the intense competition for the position, with 14 candidates for 9 empty seats. He is further the first Korean to be elected to the committee since Korea ratified the ICCPR, which is a core part of UN human rights mechanisms. The Human Rights Committee consists of 18 international human rights experts, who are responsible for monitoring and advising the implementation of ICCPR by state parties. The committee is a major human rights body that examines the implementation of each state parties of the rights mentioned in ICCPR including the right to life, freedom of body, freedom of conscience and religion, prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, etc. President Soh is a renowned human rights expert who serves as a Professor in Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies, a member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, and its Working Group on Communications. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “Our government actively supports the entry and support of Korean professionals to international human rights mechanisms, as a part of our contribution to the protection and promotion of international human rights. We look forward to seeing how Professor Soh’s entry into the Human Rights Committee will further contribute to our efforts to protect and promote international human rights.” Human Asia strives to establish a regional human rights protection system which is presently absent only in the Asian region. We aim to achieve a peaceful coexistence based on the recognition of diversity in various parts of Asia. We will continue our efforts to achieve an open Asia free from any kind of discrimination and create a human-centered Human Asia. We greatly appreciate your participation and support in all our activities to create a true “Human” Asia.
TBS EFM Radio Interview with UAEM Korea On Wednesday 9 September, Human Asia (Chloe Sherliker, Program Officer) and UAEM Korea (Soyeon Park, Hyunsu Kim) spoke on TBS EFM’s Life Abroad ‘Making Connections’ series, on the topic ‘COVID-19 Vaccine: Affordability and Availability’, with Na Seung-yeon. The 25 minute segment covered how UAEM Korea students’ lives have changed during the current pandemic; UAEM and UAEM Korea’s history and mission; Human Asia’s work and role in supporting UAEM Korea, and how to ensure that a future COVID-19 vaccine will be affordable and accessible for all. The UAEM Korea students noted that the main challenges of making a future COVID-19 vaccine affordable and accessible to all relate to supply and demand respectively. Regarding supply, the students observed that in theory, the current monopoly-based patent system incentivizes private sector investment and allows private drug corporations to make a reasonable return on their investment. However, in practice, this patent system is often abused; while the current system gives drug companies the right to patent monopolies, it doesn’t require them to sell medicines at fair prices. Additionally, from the perspective of demand, the students suggested that the lack of prior research and investment towards coronavirus from pharma companies would be another challenge to overcome in creating an accessible vaccine. We would like to again thank TBS EFM for hosting Human Asia and UAEM Korea on their channel. Click here to listen to the episode again.
Final Research Report Session with UAEM Korea On Thursday 20 August, Human Asia hosted the Final Research Report Review session with UAEM Korea and our Expert Advisory Committee. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the final session was hosted online via Zoom. This year’s Advisory Committee consisted of: Professor Hye-young Kwon (Mokwon University), Professor Sylvia Park (Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs), Dr. Unni Karunakara (Yonsei University, Yale School of Public Health), and Director Seung-beom Hong (ISU Abxis). After introducing UAEM Korea’s advocacy activities throughout 2020, the students presented their research report ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System’ to Human Asia and the Expert Advisory Committee. The report explored weaknesses and potential solutions for the Korean health system in delivering healthcare for rare disease patients. Through three sections - ‘Supply’, ‘Affordability’ and ‘Role of Universities’, the research report focused on how to establish a sustainable supply system of orphan drugs; how to ensure affordable prices of orphan drugs, and what the roles of domestic universities in this issue may be in the future. Unreliable supply systems and high drug prices were deemed to hinder access to orphan drugs in Korea. To improve access, the students suggested that the Korean pharmaceutical industry and government should stimulate domestic production of orphan drugs while implementing policies that relieve the economic burden on patients: through changes within RSAs to guarantee coverage within the national health system, and implementation of a future Korea Orphan Drugs Fund. The paper reiterated that despite different people having different health needs, everyone should be guaranteed to their right to health. Therefore, although there may be potential economic incentives, the Korean pharmaceutical industry and the Korean government should shift their focus from profit alone, to meeting the health needs of the population through access to orphan drugs. We would like to thank our Expert Advisory Committee for providing their invaluable feedback via the Zoom session, and to UAEM Korea for all their hard work in producing this high quality report. Please check Human Asia’s website soon to read the complete research report on ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System.
Human Asia has now joined the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC) in 2020 to promote more systematic and effective performance in human rights infrastructure development. The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC) is an association of 140 NGOs engaged in international relief development and humanitarian aid activities. Founded in 1999, KCOC member organizations have more than 10,000 full-time employees, and have been carrying out projects worth about 7 billion won in 96 countries annually. ,As a member of KCOC, Human Asia will contribute to areas such as: - Improving accountability by complying with overseas development cooperation NGO code of conduct, - Promoting more effective program performance by forming a network with international NGOs operating around the world, - Strengthening the capacity of development cooperation personnel, - Sending World Friends NGO Volunteers, - Supporting various organisations, - Ensuring smooth communication when conducting KOICA-related projects; List of KCOC Members: http://ngokcoc.or.kr/theme/ngokcoc/03/member00.php
The 8th Global Human Rights School - The Jangmadang Generation: Young People & Human Rights in North Korea' On Saturday 15 August, Human Asia hosted the 8th Global Human Rights School under the theme of ‘The Jangmadang Generation: Young People & Human Rights in North Korea’. The guest speaker for this year’s event was Sokeel Park, South Korea Country Director at Liberty in North Korea (LiNK). Due to the spread of COVID-19, this year the school was held online via Zoom. After a brief introduction of Human Asia, the session kicked off with Sokeel Park’s lecture on the jangmadang generation. The presentation explored what life is like today for young people growing up in North Korea; the state of human rights violations in North Korea together with the international community’s response and the 2014 COI, and ongoing evolving changes within North Korea, particularly regarding the dissemination of foreign information, marketisation, the importance of the jangmadang generation, and cross border networks. Mr. Park also provided more details on his organisation LiNK, and how ordinary students across the world can act to support change in North Korea. The participating students then gave their own presentations on posters that they had made before the human rights school, based on LiNK’s documentary ‘The Jangmadang Generation’. Each student introduced themselves and described their interpretation of the documentary and the meanings behind their posters. Mr. Park then briefly gave his thoughts on the students’ work. Thank you again to all of our participants who joined us for this year’s Global Human Rights School. We hope to see you again next year!