Secretary of State John Kerry, and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Uzra Zeya attended the Asia Civil Society Strategic Dialogue on July 2, where the Jefferson Institute assembled a gathering of activists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

The Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary led the activists in a wide-ranging discussion on the work of these civil society organizations focusing on land rights, environmental protection, and transparency issues in the region. The activists emphasized the need for governments to consult with civil society in order to ensure inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.

The Secretary noted the importance of civil society being able to network and advocate freely throughout the region to address these issues on both national and regional levels, including through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Prior to the high official meetings, the activists had two days of advocacy and skill trainings lead by Human Rights Watch Asia Director Phil Robertson and JI's VP Biljana Presnall.

This gathering was at the same time a great opportunity for interaction and a beginning of cooperation among some of the very best Asian activist groups.
July 1, 2013