The HURIGHTS OSAKA Directory of Human Rights Centers in the Asia-Pacific [ii] defines a human rights center as an institution engaged in gathering and dissemination of information related to human rights. The information refers to the international human rights instruments, documents of the United Nations human rights bodies, reports on human rights situations, analyses of human rights issues, human rights programs and activities, and other human rights-related information that are relevant to the needs of the communities in the Asia-Pacific[iii].

Establishment of Human Rights Centers

Around two hundred human rights centers now exist in at least seventeen countries in Asia-Pacific. Japan, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, and the Philippines have several centers of various types operating for at least fifteen years. The oldest center (established in 1951) is in India, focusing on research on marginalized groups, followed by a center established in 1968 in Japan with discrimination against socially-outcasted Japanese as the major focus of research.

It took more than a decade for a few more centers to be established. In Sri Lanka, where the first regional workshop on human rights mechanism was organized by the United Nations in 1982, two centers were already established by 1983. Toward the middle part of the decade of the 1980s, centers in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand followed.

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