Universiteit Leiden

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Human Rights in Asia: Overcoming the current crisis in Myanmar

On Monday 11 December, human rights activist Ms. Wai Wai Nu delivered the seventh Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture on Human Rights at Leiden Law School. This events marked the annual celebration of International Human Rights Day, which was proclaimed in 1950 by the United Nations to bring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’.

Wai Wai Nu and Rick Lawson

Ms. Wai Wai Nu is a human rights activist from Myanmar. She has founded several NGOs including the Women's Peace Network - Arakan. Between 2005 (when she was 18) and 2012, Ms. Wai Wai Nu was incarcerated in Yangong's Insein Prison. She is currently based in Berkeley, pursuing a LLM. She became widely known after initiating the popular #MyFriend campaign, which sought to combat hate by urging social media users to post photos of themselves with friends of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. In March 2017 Ms. Wai Wai Nu was named as one of the 'next generation leaders’ by TIME Magazine. 

Rick Lawson, professor of European Human Rights Law: “We are really delighted that we have been able to invite Ms. Wai Wai Nu for our annual Sackler Lecture on Human Rights. The topic that she addressed – Human rights in South East Asia – is absolutely crucial. Few may realise how serious the situation is.”

Human rights in South East Asia

The situation of Rohingya in Myanmar attracted world­wide media coverage. Ms. Wai Wai Nu shared her experiences and insights on how the situation came about, and how can we overcome the current crisis? Which steps should be taken at the national level, and what are the prospects for regional co-operation in the field of human rights? What can the international community do – and what about individuals? What lessons can we learn from the escalation of the situation in Myanmar, at a time that tensions occur in so many societies around the globe? 

Sackler Lecture

The Sackler Distinguished Lecture Series on Human Rights was established at Leiden University through an endowment given by Dr. Raymond R. Sackler and his wife, Beverly, international philanthropists with a commitment to supporting scientific research. Rick Lawson: "Meanwhile, the series of Sackler Lectures has developed into quite an event. From the president of the European Court of Human Rights, Jean-Paul Costa, to the Libyan Minister of Justice Marghani, from South-African Justice Albie Sachs to New York based scholar Brian Stevenson, and last year’s Thomas Hammarberg: it is a truly delightful series of speakers”

(Photography: Jeroen Hiemstra)

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