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CKS panel at the First Asian Conference on Human Security, Taiwan
CKS presented a panel at the First Asian Conference on Human Security organized by the Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA), the Institute of Development and Human Security (Ewha Womans University, Korea) and the Osaka School of International Public Policy. The conference took place on 5-6 May, 2016 at the Overseas Chinese University in Taichung, Taiwan. This CKS-sponsored panel brings together four scholars from mainland Southeast Asia whose papers examine regionalism, cross-border conflict and tools for conflict resolution. ‘Regionalism’ has been used by some nation states as a development paradigm to achieve economic efficiency, political dialogues and peace and security after WWII. The creation of the ASEAN was established with these purposes in mind amid growing tensions between the East and the West after the end of the Cold War. Although the association of the 10 nations is moving towards economic integration, ensuring political dialogues on major transboundary issues and ensuring peace and human security remain key challenges for the future of ASEAN as a whole.

This panel of ASEAN scholars explores these issues using case studies from Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. Oudom Ham will examine different discourses used by various Cambodian stakeholders (government officials, environmental group representatives and local villagers) involved in dam projects along the Mekong and its subsidiaries and how these different discourses have been negotiated and reconciled. Jularat Damrongviteetham studies the concept of the ‘common space’, a tool a few countries across the world have used to effectively turn conflict into peaceful settlement and explores the extent which this concept can be applied to Thailand’s current political deadlock. Using a comparative lens that brings together Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, Titipol Phakdeewanich questions the bloc’s political commitment to realistically achieve human rights in light of the various stages of democratization in the region. Duy-Ly Chu discusses the ASEAN working principle of ‘non-interference’ and state sovereignty in dealing with its members’ internal and transborder conflicts. Using the case of the Cambodia-Thai conflict over Preah Vihear temple, he explores ways whereby the limitations this principle entailed can be addressed.

Narrative Analysis of Cambodia’s Hydropower Dam Development
Oudom Ham
Center for Khmer Studies
With a growing need of energy security for local consumption and economic development, Cambodia is slowly shifting its energy policy towards hydropower. In the past ten years, dams have been built across the country without proper environmental impact assessments thereby leading to many cases when projects originally designed to secure water and energy security became a threat to human security in the lower Mekong basin. Indeed, large-scale hydropower projects were implemented at the expense of local people’s livelihood; polluting water, changing water flow and leading to involuntary resettlements. This paper investigates main stakeholders’ current discourses on dam construction in Cambodia, which include but are not limited to, government officials, NGO workers and local people. Oudom Ham seeks to answer how different discourses can be reconciled and lead to peaceful negotiations that will contribute to greater dialogues between the parties in the future and ensure the sustainable livelihood of the local populations who heavily depend on the Mekong.

The concept of “Common Space” as a tool for conflict transformation and human security in the Deep South of Thailand
Jularat Damrongviteetham
Researcher, Berghof Foundation, Bangkok Liaison, Thailand

After 11 years of deadly conflict in the South of Thailand, the official peace talks (KL-process) emerged on the 28th of February 2013, which drew people’s attention and stimulated the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the three south border provinces. The current government revitalized the process by establishing official structures for the talks to happen. This has led to 3 secret meetings with the participation of Malaysia as facilitator. Organizing peace talks under a military government creates mistrust among the local people, however. To support the peace process, the ‘Common Space’ concept can be one of the tools to transform current conflicts and bring all parties and stakeholders towards the negotiation table. This paper will demonstrate how this concept has been successfully implemented in Lebanon, Nepal, South Africa, and Myanmar and how human security needs to be framed under this new lens that helps re-define shared roles and responsibilities.

The Prospects for democratic and human rights progress within ASEAN: Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand
Titipol Phakdeewanich, PhD.
Political scientist
Faculty of Political Science
Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand

In 2012, the ten member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) committed to both “promote” and “protect” human rights by means of the “ASEAN Human Rights Declaration”. However, this declaration was strongly criticized by much of the international community, which included the United Nations and the U.S owing to its inconsistencies with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Importantly, although ASEAN has, at various times, reiterated such political ambitions in promoting ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ – the ten countries forming ASEAN are strikingly different from the point of view of their political system and ideology. The question, therefore, arises as to whether democratic and human rights progress within ASEAN can be realistically achieved at this time?
This paper investigates the extent to which drawing on universal principles is a pre-requisite in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights, when, for instance, mitigating “cross-border” problems, which may threaten national sovereignty. This paper will use case studies relating to border conflicts, human trafficking, and environmental security issues along the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in order to examine the relationships between democratic and human rights progress, and the possibility of a more constructive and productive collaboration at the regional level to ensure the well-being of the populations living in and at the intersections of these three countries.

Regional Border Conflicts and the role and responsibility of the ASEAN: The case of Preah Vihear
Duy-Ly Chu (M.A.)
Lecturer, Faculty of Oriental Studies
College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Vietnam National University
Ho Chi Minh


The Preah Vihear Temple conflict between Cambodia and Thailand is one of the typical case studies of conflicts in the ASEAN region. ASEAN consists of 10 country members, and its main vision is to maintain peace and stability in the region of South East Asia. The ASEAN approaches to conflict resolution are (i) consultation, (ii) consensus, (iii) quiet and informal way of diplomacy, and (iv) constructive or flexible engagement. This paper examines the ASEAN’s role in solving the case of the Preah Vihear Temple. How does ASEAN perform its role of maintaining peace and stability in the SEA region while its method of dealing with internal conflicts is predicated on the principle of non-interference and consensus-based decision that prevents proactive conflict resolution in the case of Preah Vihear Temple? Can ASEAN respond effectively to threats to human security that may affect its member states either individually or collectively?

The main arguments in this paper are that (a) ASEAN’s role is slow and ineffective, and has no real power to enforce its agreement, leading Cambodia to be disappointed with ASEAN’s role; (b) Non-interference as well as consensus-based decision making prevent effective conflict resolution, (c) to overcome this challenge, ASEAN will need to become a legal and more powerful entity to establish a dispute settlement mechanism for its sustainable future.

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