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Asia Background

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Asia Division currently implements technical legal assistance programs in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Vietnam. It also operates regional programs that address corruption, media and freedom of expression issues in South East Asia, and a Pacific Islands exchange program on women’s rights; and cooperates with the Association of South East Asian Nations’ Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). It previously had programs in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, East Timor and India.

Much of the Asia Division’s work focuses on the following substantive areas: judicial and legal profession development, anti-corruption and citizens’ rights advocacy aimed at increasing access to justice. The division has also played an important role as a convener of regional meetings for legal professionals, including a judicial program for high court justices from Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Thailand that was conceived of and moderated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is also special adviser to ABA ROI’s Asia Council. In 2011, the AICHR held a meeting for civil society organizations and human rights experts in South-East Asia to discuss ways to strengthen the region’s human rights system through advocacy. To supplement these efforts, ABA ROLI has trained lawyers from South-East Asian countries—including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines—on advocacy issues, focusing on media and freedom of expression.