We recognize that policy issues are not the same throughout the region, and the strategies that our partners seek to implement are responsive to local needs. The Center aims to complement—and find ways to collaborate with—other efforts to advance sound policy ideas. We welcome inquiries about how we might work cooperatively with other organizations pursuing similar ends.
Atlas Network’s Center for Asia & Oceania works with local civil society organizations across the region to replace conflict with harmonious and peaceful trade, poverty with prosperity, and arbitrary power with the rule of law.
Latest Center updates
The Center for Asia and Oceania was launched in December 2021 to cover one of the most politically, culturally and religiously diverse regions in the world and is home to 60% of the world’s population. It is a region that has a complex history with noted struggles in dealing with poverty, instability, and oppressive regimes. Most recently we have seen illiberal regimes in the region engage in oppression to an even greater degree as illustrated by the imprisonment of Hong Kong businessman and democracy advocate - Jimmy Lai, which was documented by Atlas Network’s CEO, Brad Lips, in his early 2021 WSJ op-ed.
Our more than 47 partners in the region are actively working to address the myriad of challenges to freedom, such as government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that have disrupted both economies and private lives. In addition, these partners are removing cultural and policy barriers holding women back from receiving the same rights as men, creating incentives for conservation, reforming tax systems to be more fair and transparent, eliminating regulations and unnecessary requirements to run a micro/small business and much more.
While there are many barriers to peace and prosperity in the region, we remain optimistic as we know that liberal values are neither eastern nor western. They are human values and can be found in the Padma Purana, the Dhammapada, the Bible, the Qur’an, and other sacred texts of great religious and ethical traditions that have shaped cultures across Asia and Oceania.
Now in my sixth decade of actively promoting the cause of liberty, I’m thrilled to serve as the director of Atlas Network’s new Center for Asia and Oceania, bringing together ideas and strategies from all parts of this region and especially leaning on the expertise of our Center's Advisory Council, which will be formalized in the coming months. I invite you to engage with Atlas Network to discover the path forward and accelerate freedom in the region in 2022!
Dr. Tom Palmer
George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty; Executive Vice President for International Programs
The Center for Asia and Oceania has initiated projects to increase cooperation among partners from New Zealand to Mongolia, Pakistan to Korea. They include a public policy co-laboratorium in which researchers from think tanks throughout the region present current research projects and their progress to their peers and receive helpful critical comments and suggestions. Atlas Network partners are also publishing original research in areas such as legal gender equality, conservation, tax systems reform, educational freedom, and much more.
News & ideasView All
- Why Americans Should Care About Sri Lanka's Economic CrisisSri Lanka's crisis is no mere financial downturn, like Americans are experiencing now. Our economic system is literally collapsing, with millions of people in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Ten-hour blackouts have become part of daily life in Sri Lanka. Food, water, and other basic necessities are not guaranteed. More than 6 million Sri Lankans are food insecure. Inflation is 66 percent year over year (as of October), child malnutrition is skyrocketing. Parents cannot afford meat, milk, or eggs, forcing themselves into difficult sacrifices.Read Article
- Advocata Institute wins 2022 Templeton Freedom AwardAt Freedom Dinner 2022 on November 17, Advocata Institute, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was announced as this year's winner of Atlas Network's prestigious Templeton Freedom Award and its US$100,000 prize. The Templeton Freedom Award is generously sponsored by the Templeton Religion Trust.Read Article
- Protecting Freedom of Expression in IndonesiaThe Indonesian Institute, an Atlas Network partner, is informing the public and policymakers about the harmful impact of Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law through its research and advocacy.Read Article
- Outlook for Women’s Workforce Participation in IndiaIf implemented, the labor rules recommended by Trayas are estimated to grant 2.6 million women the right to choose work in the coming two years. Trayas has a long road ahead, but it is paving a path for India to be able to invest in greater engagement and representation of women in the formal economy.Read Article
- Is liberty an Asian value?A frequent challenge raised against classical liberalism is that it is not suitable for Asian people or Asian countries, because of “Asian values” that are allegedly unique to Asian countries. Is Asian liberty different from European or American or African Liberty? Or, if liberty is being used in the same way in those regions, is it a reasonable principle for Asian governments and laws, or are Asian values incompatible with liberty? One could also ask whether there is one core of values that are common to all Asians, who inhabit a vast region encompassing billions of people speaking hundreds of languages, professing a wide variety of religions, and heirs to thousands of years of multifarious cultural developments.Read Article
Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Executive Vice President for International Programs
Dr. Tom G. Palmer is executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network where he holds the George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty. He is co-author with Matt Warner of Development with Dignity: Self-Determination, Localization, and the End to Poverty (Routledge, 2022). He travels extensively to work with NGOs promoting liberal democracy and locally-led economic development, which he had been doing since before the end of the USSR and its empire. He is the author of many books and a contributor to numerous volumes, mostly recently Truth and Governance (Brookings Institution, 2021). Palmer received his doctorate in politics from Oxford University.
Talks with Tom – Last Days in Kabul
As the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, it left a chaotic scene in its wake. As the Taliban reclaimed power, many who had advocated for the principles of a free society became targeted in violent reprisals. Atlas Network quickly and quietly mobilized to help the CEO of Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization (AELSO), Khalid Ramizy, escape the country. Dr. Tom G. Palmer recently spoke to Khalid, now safely abroad.Watch now!
Frequently Asked Questions
The mission of the Center is to help achieve a lasting peace and inclusive prosperity throughout Asia & Oceania, providing justice and opportunity to all its citizens. Our strategy is to assist civil society organizations in the region to implement bottom-up projects that increase freedom.
This means we focus our attention on helping our partners by providing (1) training; (2) competitive grant opportunities; and (3) networking opportunities. Through our annual Asia Liberty Forum and other events and public campaigns, we also bring public attention to the projects of our partners and the importance of their work.
The Center is not endowed and does not accept funding from any government. It relies entirely on the generosity of individuals and institutional donors that share its desire to create greater freedom and opportunity for the people who inhabit Asia & Oceania’s diverse political, cultural, and social landscape.
Since the Center believes the best policy solutions come from the bottom-up, our strategy is to listen to our partners rather than direct their plans and strategies. The principal focus of our work is supporting (via training, grants, and networking opportunities) our partners’ locally-grown solutions to poverty and other local challenges.
We work with our partner network to help identify areas of collaboration around big themes that are common in the think tank world, and that have relevance to the needs that other local partners have identified. Current themes include:
• Improving understanding of the benefits of trade and the dangers of protectionism, so that political leaders will less inclined to indulge in demagoguery that could undermine beneficial trading relationships.
• Rooting out corruption and political privileges that distort the economic playing field. Such work will help us clarify that enlightened political actors will be “pro-market” (since market competition produces innovation and lowers prices for consumers), not “pro-business” (a euphemism for helping existing businesses at the expense of competitors and consumers).
• Using tools like the Doing Business report of the World Bank and the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World report to identify “low-hanging-fruit” reforms that can measurably increase economic freedom.
If you would like to learn more about the Center and meet those involved in its work, consider attending our upcoming Asia Liberty Forum or Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner, where many of our partners come together to learn from one another, participate in networking and training opportunities, and celebrate the accomplishments of their global peers.
If you are working for a think tank or civil society group that would like to take part in training programs and grant competitions, the first step is to go through Atlas Network’s partner approval process.
If you are a philanthropist wanting to learn about the Center’s work, please contact Vice President of Development Chad Goote. We would be happy to provide details that will help you make an informed decision about how gifts to the Center for Asia & Oceania may fulfill your philanthropic goals.
If you are a member of the academy or the media, we welcome your inquiries about how you might contribute to a better understanding of the work of the Center and the achievements of our independent partners.
The Center for Asia & Oceania serves a network of independent think tanks and civil society organizations that take their own positions on specific policy topics in specific countries. We are not a think tank ourselves, so we are not in the business of giving hot takes on the news of the day. On occasion, our team can assist media inquiries by providing references to experts associated with our partner organizations, but these individuals do not speak for the Center itself.
The Center welcomes speaking invitations for Dr. Tom Palmer. Please contact Amanda Ashworth with the details of your invitation.
No. The Center for Asia & Oceania does not engage in partisan politics. Our focus is on building a long-term consensus around the principles that foster peace and prosperity, with the sincere hope that such a future will see ‘less at stake’ in individual elections, because all parties will be respectful of fundamental freedoms.
The Center for Asia & Oceania collaborates with partners that understand how individual rights, limited government under the rule of law, and free markets can create prosperity and improve the prospects for peace. The Center calls for an end to cronyism, corruption, and political privileges of all kinds, and looks forward to working with all people of goodwill who share this vision. In this way, the Center adheres to a set of principles, but not to a narrowly-defined ideology or political orientation.