Phil Robertson is the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. He oversees the organization's work throughout Asia, with special focus on Southeast Asia and the Korean peninsula. He serves as a human rights advocate engaging with government and UN agency officials, a spokesperson representing the organization’s views who regularly contributes to national and international media stories on SE Asia, a strategic campaigner on rights cases and causes, and a researcher and writer on topics of human rights, labor rights, refugees and migration.
Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 2009, he worked for fifteen years in Southeast Asia on human rights, labor rights, protection of migrant workers, and counter-human trafficking efforts with a variety of non-governmental organizations, international and regional trade union federations, and UN agencies. As program manager of the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP), he oversaw the successful negotiation of the first regional inter-governmental agreement on human trafficking in the greater Mekong sub-region. As a consultant, he researched and wrote the seminal report on trafficking and rights abuses in the Thai fishing industry in 2009. Working for the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers, he co-led the multi-stakeholder, multi-country process and served as primary drafter of the comprehensive civil society proposal to ASEAN for a legal instrument to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers. He directed the Mainland Southeast Asia office of the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center, working on trade union rights, democratic political reform, and rights of migrant workers, focusing on Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand. He also worked as a professional staff member of the Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, DC. A 1997 graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, he is fluent in Thai and Lao.