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Asia Pacific

The Open Society Foundations have been expanding and deepening its work in Asia—engaging on pressing local and regional issues, from ensuring protections for migrant workers to supporting independent journalism and human rights advocates.

Offices and Foundations

Kabul, Afghanistan

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Yangon, Myanmar

Islamabad, Pakistan

By the Numbers

$56.0M 2020 expenditures for Asia Pacific
4.1% Percentage of global expenditures
16.9% Average annual change in expenditures since 2016

Expenditures by Year

Explore our full expenditures by theme and region

Our History

The Open Society Foundations’ work in Asia has expanded in a way that reflects the diversity of political development across the region. After an unsuccessful effort to work in Beijing that ended just before the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, we established our first foundation in the region in Mongolia in 1996.

Elsewhere, moves from military to civilian rule allowed us to open foundations in Indonesia in 2000, in Pakistan in 2008, and in Myanmar in 2015. Our involvement in Myanmar followed many years providing scholarships and support for Myanmar students who had fled into exile after the military refused to cede power after elections in 1990. 

Highlights of Our Work in Asia Pacific

People walk up an unpaved street in a residential neighborhood
People walk through the streets of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. © Bryan Denton/The New York Times/Redux

Our Work

Our Asia Pacific Regional Office coordinates our work, which ranges from ensuring protections to migrant laborers to supporting human rights and a independent media.

Access to Justice

A woman holding a smartphone
An elected official from Nepal who represents members of the Dalit community, which has historically been considered “untouchable.” © Kishor Sharma/Majority World for the Open Society Foundations

In many parts of Asia, a lack of access to the protection of the law serves to perpetuate poverty and discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and others. Open Society has worked in Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and elsewhere to support the provision of free legal advice that helps people resolve everyday problems. In Pakistan, we have worked with the largest network of NGOs to train women as community-based paralegal advisors in remote villages. 

Supporting Citizen Engagement

Two women hold up their mobile phones to record a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Pakistani university students use their mobile phones to record video of a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011. © Muhammed Muheisen/AP/Shutterstock

From the beginning, Open Society has supported democratic development in Asia, particularly in countries where democratic ideals remains contested. In Nepal, for instance, we have supported efforts to ensure that women and Dalits are included as candidates for local authority positions.


A group of workers sit on the pavement during their lunch break.
Workers take a lunch break in Doha, Qatar on February 25, 2009. © Matilde Gattoni/Redux

Migrant workers from across Asia leave their homes in search of work, often supporting their families with jobs both elsewhere in the region, and further afield, such as the Arab Gulf, East Asia, and Europe. Our International Migration Initiative works with actors across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to promote fair and equitable working conditions for migrants and refugees, and to ensure that they are protected from all forms of abuse.  


In Pakistan, we joined our Pakistan foundation to assist in the creation of a national center of excellence for early childhood care and education. We also helped with the introduction of a professional development program for teachers that links curriculum reform, textbook development, and the assessment system.

Children gather around a table while listening to their teacher.
Children gather around their teacher in a classroom in Karachi, Pakistan on February 24, 2014. © Shakil Adil/AP

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