18th Annual Program 2008 - Sydney and Canberra

Sydney and Canberra, 24th November – 12th December, 2008


18th Annual Program Report


The Diplomacy Training Program’s (DTP’s) 18th Annual Human Rights and Peoples’ Diplomacy training course took place in Sydney and Canberra from November 24th – December 12th, 2008 coinciding with the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There were 29 human rights defenders participating in the program from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and Timor-Leste.


These participants work at the frontline of the region’s pressing human rights challenges – fighting censorship and discrimination and promoting equality and democracy in Fiji, monitoring human rights in Afghanistan, improving the situation of women workers in Sri Lankan free trade manufacturing zones, campaigning against extra-judicial executions and forced “disappearances” in the Philippines and Southern Thailand, working against the displacement of communities by development projects in Laos, the differing challenges of respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and realising the right to self-determination in Tibet, Bougainville, Mindanao, Southern Thailand, Australia, Burma and West Papua, and building peace, reconciliation and cultures of human rights in societies enduring or recovering from conflict. The often moving accounts of participants provided personal and powerful testimony of how much remains to be done to fulfil the promises made 60 years ago with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Highlights of the program included:


  • Meeting with Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade;
  • Witnessing the Parliamentary motion marking the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR;
  • Presentations from leading Indigenous advocates including Mick Dodson (2009 Australian of the Year), Dalee Sambo-Dorough, Rob Williams and James Anaya (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People);
  • Human rights day lunch with the Australian Formum of Human Rights Organisations (AFHRO);
  • The inaugral Human Rights Day Football (soccer) Tournament;
  • Participation in the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival;
  • Practical lobbying sessions with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAID;
  • Justice Michael Kirby's participation in the closing ceremony on his las official sitting day on the High Court of Australia.

Evaluations of the program by the participants were very positive. The Diplomacy Training Program wishes to extend its thanks to all who made the program possible.