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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

East Asia and Pacific Programs

DRL currently funds over ­­50 democracy, human rights, and labor programs in East Asian and Pacific countries (EAP). Current funding for DRL programs in EAP exceeds $93 million. Program topics include democracy education and advocacy, women’s empowerment, human rights enforcement, and the promotion of civil society. The following are examples of the kinds of programs DRL funds in East Asia and the Pacific.

Strengthening Civil Society and Documenting Human Rights
In Burma, a DRL grantee worked to increase the capacity of local community based organizations to document in-country human rights violations and engage in human rights advocacy efforts. In total, 89 individuals from more than nine ethnic groups were trained in human rights principles, advocacy strategies, and how to collect, analyze, and document human rights violations. Their documentation work ultimately resulted in reports that contained valuable information about human rights violations and their impact on health outcomes in Burma’s Kachin, Eastern, and Western border areas, garnering international media coverage from news organizations such as The Guardian, The Nation (Thailand), BBC Burma, and Voice of America.

Awareness and Advocacy Training on Rights
In Cambodia, a DRL project used innovative means to help spread awareness on land rights among the underserved and largely illiterate populations there. Despite frequently impassable roads and inclement weather in the target areas, DRL partners conducted 67 road shows with more than 63,000 people in attendance. The program also trained more than 100 grassroots civil society workers as Party Assistants who served as land law resources for the public and helped resolve land disputes. In one instance, a trained Party Assistant helped a community of 300 households resolve a dispute with former soldiers who claimed they owned the land before the war. As a result of the project, 288 of the 300 households successfully retained their land and all cases were settled amicably.

Women’s Empowerment
In Laos, a DRL project is working to promote rural women’s political participation and expansion in the role of civil society in Laos. Specifically, the project will use a training of trainers model to create a group of provincial-level trainers who promote women’s issues and women’s political participation among their constituencies. The initial trainings will be conducted by Chinese gender and rural women’s rights experts using examples of Chinese policies and programs as a politically safe context for implementing the lessons from the trainings. Additionally the program will provide an opportunity for Lao officials to travel to China to meet with women’s CSOs and other groups who promote women’s political participation and rights protection.

Select a country to read about specific programs:

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