Civil society in Asia-Pacific
Below please find reports, statements, and articles by civil society, and information on forums, roundtables, and conferences held on RtoP, prevention, and operationalizing civilian components in the region from 2009 to 2014.
• In 2013, Mr. Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, approached Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former Secretary-General of ASEAN, and requested advice on the promotion of RtoP in Southeast Asia. Accordingly, Dr. Surin convened a group of experts to establish the High Level Advisory Panel on RtoP in Southeast Asia with the main goal of supporting efforts to promote and implement the norm in the region. In 2014, the High Level Panel released their report entitled Mainstreaming the Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia: Pathway Towards a Caring ASEAN Community. The report highlights that the ultimate goals of RtoP are consistent with the objectives of ASEAN. It further explains that ASEAN has existing mechanisms that are important for the promotion and implementation of RtoP, as well as underscores the necessity for greater UN-ASEAN partnership.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect held a workshop on ASEAN and Prevention of Violence Against Women in Conflict and Humanitarian Situations on 20 August 2014. Acting British Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN, and Timor Leste, Rebecca Razavi, gave a keynote address on “Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.”
• Dibya Shikha wrote an article for the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, which was published on 28 May 2014, on how the 2014 ASEAN Summit neglected to include Rohingya Muslims in the agenda. Shikha highlights that the international community needs to ensure that Myanmar’s Government upholds its Responsibility to Protect and highlights that “there should be a inter-regional solution for the forced migration of Rohingyas.”
•Asia Pacific Centre for Responsibility to Protect hosted an event on “Preventing Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence with Early Warning Analysis” on 24 April 2014. Panelists discussed current research on early warning of sexual violence in conflict and the widespread and systematic sexual violence in Sri Lanka.
•Free Burma Coalition-Philippines and Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition made a statement on March 25 2014 at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN’s People’s forum in which they urged ASEAN to “popularize the application of RtoP principles in conflict prevention strategies.”
• The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN’s People’s Forum was held in Myanmar from 21 to 23 March 2014. Civil society organizations attending the conference discussed different issues relating to “advancing ASEAN’s people’s solidarity toward sustainable peace, development, justice and democratization.”
• Noel Morada, who is Director (Regional) and Senior Researcher at Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, wrote a chapter on “Entrenching Responsibility to Protect in the Asia-Pacific,” which was published in 2014.
• Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect produced several policy briefs related to RtoP and the region in 2014. India and RtoP, for instance, examines the development of India’s view on RtoP. In another brief, RtoP's Second Pillar: the Responsibility to Assist in Theory and Practice in Solomon Islands, the authors examine the “implementation of a regional capacity-building program in Solomon Islands.”
• Griffith University held a public seminar in on Women, Peace & Security 2013: Australia’s Role at Home and Abroad on 16 August 2013. The seminar focused on the security of women and children in the region, the Australian government’s responsibilities to these populations, and the role of the Australian government in supporting women and children who are seeking asylum in the region.
• Noel Morada, who is Director (Regional) and Senior Researcher at Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, wrote a chapter on “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations” in July 2013, which “identifies the institutional frameworks of ASEAN that could be linked to RtoP.”
• Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies held a roundtableon 15 April 2013 on “Enhancing Global and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution.” Panelists discussed multiple issues including how to enhance existing mechanisms to protect civilians, and the role of regional actors in the protection of civilians and conflict management.
• Over 60 civil society organizations published a statement on 20 January 2013, urging ASEAN to help stop intensifying conflict in Kachin state in Burma. Namely, they urged ASEAN governments to compel the Burmese government to stop its attacks in Kachin and to also provide humanitarian assistance.
• Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect published policy briefs that focused on different aspects of RtoP in 2013. ASEAN and The UN Secretary-General’s report on RtoP: State Responsibility and Prevention, for instance, provides recommendations for ASEAN member states and civil society organizations highlighting the need to hold regional and national discussions on the Secretary-General’s report. In another brief, Realizing Commitments to Women, Peace and Security in Southeast Asia, the authors examine the lack of regional focus on Women, Peace and Security. Additionally, in Growing Ethnic Tensions in Myanmar and Indonesia: R2P and Promotion of Communal Dialogue, the authors assert that a regional response, through ASEAN, to the tensions in Myanmar and Indonesia is essential, particularly when addressing the Rohingya crisis.
• Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies held a seminaron “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: Challenges and Opportunities” on 2 November 2012. Alex Bellamy presented on the evolution of RtoP and offers recommendation for the strategy forward.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a Conference Outcome Document, “Regional Capacity to Protect, Prevent and Respond: UN-Asia Pacific Strategy and Coordination,” on 6 June 2012. This publication followed a two-day conference on 17-18 May in Bangkok Thailand hosted by the APCR2P in cooperation with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and in partnership with Chulalongkorn University in which participants from various sectors discussed and debated RtoP and its implementation in region.
• The Center for Non-Traditional Security Studies issued an NTS Perspectives publication, “Roadmap for RtoP in Asia,” on 29 February 2012 assessing the challenges facing Asia in regards to how to implement the RtoP norm on all levels, specifically the national level which includes non-state actors, ASEAN and civil society. The publication investigates and evaluates the reception to and relevance of the RtoP and addresses prospects for concrete actions on the RtoP mandate in Asia.
• Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released several policy briefs on RtoP and the region in 2012. ASEAN, the Rohingyas and Myanmar’s Responsibility to Protect, for instance, provides recommendations on how Myanmar and ASEAN can collectively address the crisis in Rakhine state. ASEAN and the UN GA Dialogue on the SG’s Report on Timely and Decisive Response also provides recommendations for ASEAN member states that highlight the importance of participating in the interactive dialogue. Pillar II in Practice: Policy Capacity-Building in Oceaniaexplores police capacity building (“police-building”) in three developing states of Oceania and its relation to R2P.
• The Stanley Foundation convened a conference on 11 May 2011 that focused on the theme, The Role of Regional and Sub-Regional Arrangements in Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect. The conference report published on 25 May 2011 included a paper by Noel M. Morada, which focuses on ASEAN and the Asian Regional Forum (ARF). The paper examines the role of the regional organizations to strengthen RtoP in Asia and notes that although ASEAN and ARF have not formally adopted the language of RtoP both bodies have adopted principles and norms related to RtoP.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the Responsibility to Protect: Opportunities and Constraints, the second of a two paper series on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and RtoP, on 30 March 2011. The report assesses the potential opportunities to optimize the AICHR’s Terms of Reference (TOR) and asserts that ASEAN and the AICHR have a responsibility to play a major role in the protection of peoples in the region from mass atrocities.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect published a report on 30 November 2010 entitled The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the Responsibility to Protect: Development and Potential, which is the first of two working papers on the AICHR and RtoP. This paper explores the role of regional organizations, such as ASEAN, in implementing R2P and discusses how the AICHR can facilitate the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.
• The Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, in cooperation with ICRtoP, conducted a series of seminars for academe, civil society groups, students, and government sector representatives in Manila, Philippines on 8-12 November 2010. The seminars provided an update on R2P developments, the role of the ICRtoP, and sharing of African experiences in promoting R2P in the continent.
• ICRtoP and the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect sponsored a training seminar conducted by the Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide on 5 November 2010 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The seminar sought to raise awareness on the existing United Nations early warning mechanisms and the work and mandate of the OSAPG, as well as enhance understanding of the process and causes of mass atrocity crimes and the legal framework on genocide prevention.
• ICRtoP, the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and Oxfam Australia co-hosted a conference held from 3-4 November 2010 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Early Warning for Prevention: Technologies and Practice for the Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes. The conference explored how international and local actors can harness early warning to contribute to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes, as well as examined how to work effectively with communities once early warning has been raised.
• Alex Bellamy and Mark Beeson authored an article in Asian Security on 29 September 2010 entitled, The Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia: Can ASEAN Reconcile Humanitarianism and Sovereignty? This article explores how relevant the principle of RtoP is in Southeast Asia, as well as the potential relevance of the norm through an analysis of the impact of Cyclone Nargis on Myanmar. It suggests that external norms and ideas can still have a decisive impact in favorable instances even in a region where national sovereignty is jealously guarded.
• The EastWest Institute partnered with the ASEAN Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS) for two special sessions at the 24th Asia Pacific Roundtable held from June 8-9, 2010. The first session brought together the heads of ASEAN-ISIS and of ASEAN think tanks, while the second engaged policymakers, government officials and experts from across Asia. The sessions focused on outlining the steps necessary to develop a regional conflict-prevention agenda.
• Forum-Asia dedicated its June 2010 edition of Asian Human Rights Defender to the theme: A Human Rights Mechanism for South Asia. The articles within the publication focus on efforts to establish a regional human rights mechanism within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and emphasize establishing a regional response for South Asian human rights situations. Articles also examine ASEAN and human rights, and country-specific scenarios.
• The Europe-Asia Policy Forum held its 7th annual Roundtable Experts Meeting from 20-21 May 2010 on the subject of Early Warning Systems in Minority Conflicts. The Roundtable, which produced a report upon completion, aimed to work towards developing a regional early warning framework for the prevention of ethnic conflict.
• The Center on International Cooperation published a paper written by Elsina Wainwright in April 2010 entitled Conflict Prevention in South East Asia and the South Pacific. The paper examines regional crises and the role of actors, such as state governments and NGOs, to manage and respond to conflict. The author provides recommendations on how to enhance the effectiveness of regional measures used to prevent conflict.
• Oxfam Australia held a workshop entitled NGOs & the Prevention of Mass Atrocities from 23-24 November 2009, and released the outcome document from this event on 16 March 2010. The workshop focused on NGO engagement on RtoP in order to develop and share strategies in implementing the Responsibility to Protect throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.
• The Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) established a study group on the Responsibility to Protect in November 2009 with the goal of exploring the implications of RtoP for regional actors and organizations. A final report was presented to the CSCAP Steering Committee in June 2011, which focuses on the role of regional organizations, such as the Asian Regional Forum, in the implementation of RtoP.
• The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IDD) participated in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference held in Cha-am, Thailand from 18-20 October 2009. IDD called on ASEAN to take a more proactive role in the prevention of internal state conflicts as the regional body has been largely absent in this area.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for R2P published a report in October 2009, Protection of Civilians and the Responsibility to Protect: Perspectives and Precedents in the Asia-Pacific, by Charles T. Hunt. The report discusses the connection between Protection of Civilians (POC) and RtoP, explaining that though the two concepts are closely linked, the scope of RtoP is narrower and RtoP applies to situations beyond armed conflict. The report specifically discusses the contributions of China, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Australia, Japan and Myanmar in the Security Council POC meetings in May 2008 and January 2009.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for R2P published a report detailing the role of Asia-Pacific nations during the 2009 General Assembly debate entitled Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: Asia Pacific in the 2009 GA Dialogue. This report gives a summary of the background to the dialogue and discusses the Asia-Pacific region, first outlining general consensuses and challenges, and then paying attention to each nation and their relations with the norm.
• Global Action to Prevent War in cooperation with Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney hosted a regional workshop on “Peacekeeping and Civilian Protection” in Jakarta, Indonesia on 11 June 2009. The workshop focused on the following: Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific perspectives on civilian protection and the possible role of a standing UN peacekeeping service; and the impact of Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific norms, language, politics and culture on proposals for UN peacekeeping reform.
• The Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia released a brief on 1 April 2009 entitled The Responsibility to Protect: Conceptual Misunderstanding and Challenges of Application. The document examines the origin and principles of the norm and discusses regionalism and RtoP, specifically what lessons ASEAN can draw from the African Union.
• The Asian Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released an update brief entitled The Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians: Asia-Pacific in the UN Security Council on 10 February 2009. The purpose of this update brief was to set out the positions taken by Asia-Pacific governments at the Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians and to examine their implications.
• The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a report on 30 January 2009 entitled The Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia, which focuses on the position of ASEAN Member States on RtoP and their policy priorities in areas related to implementing the norm.