The Rohingya Crisis: A Long, Tortuous Road to Security and Justice

One year after the start of the latest mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence and persecution by the Myanmar Government and military, the prospects of a deepening humanitarian crisis and of achieving justice are prolonged indefinitely into the future. This is the grim conclusion drawn from Asia Centre’s one day conference on The Rohingya Crisis: A Multidimensional Tragedy, on 24 August 2018. Participants noted a number of salient points as follows.  Very few of the refugees have returned to their homes in Rakhine state, despite an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, which hosts around one million Rohingya ‘refugees’. Failing security…

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States have a duty to regulate businesses to protect human rights

Conference Report: The duty of the State to protect human rights and regulate the behaviour of business organizations was the focal point of discussions at Asia Centre’s International Conference on Business and Human Rights: Holding Governments Accountable (BHR Conference), held on 12 and 13 July 2018 in Bangkok. The focus on the duty of the State was deemed important by the conference participants as Asian countries increasingly consider the development of national action plans (NAPs) on BHR. Experts from around the world analysed the multifaceted linkages between business operations and international human rights norms but circled back to point to…

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Violations by Businesses Against Human Rights Defenders An Emerging Trend

In addition to States, increasingly the office of the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) is using its mandate to hold businesses accountable for human rights violations. States no longer are the only violators, around the world violations against HRDs are also being committed by companies in the areas of mining and forestry as well as other sectors.   This was one of the key trends affecting the situation of human rights defenders Mr. Michel Forst highlighted during his public lecture at the Asia Centre. Over 70 people turned up to hear Mr. Michel Forst…

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Russia’s Grand Strategy in the Asia-Pacific revealed at Asia Centre

A rare public articulation of Russia’s grand strategy in the Asia-Pacific was expounded at Asia Centre by H.E. Kirill Barsky, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand on 30 March 2017. Entitled “Russian Grand Strategy in the Asia Pacific: What Role for ASEAN?”, Asia Centre convened the roundtable to discuss Russia’s dramatic resurgence in international politics and explore its foreign policy goals in the region.   Asia Centre’s moderator, Ms. Alexandria Demetrianova posed a key question to kick start the roundtable - Does Russia, a great power of the past few centuries, have a clear strategy for…

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Evaluating Competing “Democratic” Discourses: The Impact on Human Rights Protection in Southeast Asia

Gomez, James, and Robin Ramcharan (2014), Evaluating Competing “Democratic” Discourses: The Impact on Human Rights Protection in Southeast Asia, in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 33, 3, 49–77. Abstract This paper evaluates the impact of competing “democratic” discourses on human rights protection in Southeast Asia. The authors identify three key discourses emanating from a set of national governmental policies, advocacy positions promoted by both global and local civil society and international standards and procedures adopted by members of inter-governmental organisations. These discourses, the authors argue, are collectively shaping the emerging ASEAN inter-governmental human rights regime. The political impact of…

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Introduction: Democracy and Human Rights in Southeast Asia

Gomez, James, and Robin Ramcharan (2014), Introduction: Democracy and Human Rights in Southeast Asia, in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 33, 3, 3–17. Abstract Southeast Asia has been undergoing a transition to more democratic forms of governance over the last two decades. The 2007 Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) stated that henceforth ASEAN would pursue democratic forms of governance, the rule of law and the attendant fundamental human rights, which are the hallmark of liberal democratic states. This major normative evolution is one chapter of ASEAN’s post-Cold War efforts to deepen its members’ interactions in…

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The Protection of Human Rights in Southeast Asia, Improving the Effectiveness of Civil Society. Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law

James Gomez & Robin Ramcharan, The Protection of Human Rights in Southeast Asia, Improving the Effectiveness of Civil Society. Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law (2) (2012) 27-43 1. Introduction A nascent human rights regime is emerging in Southeast Asia, one equipped with an institutional body, the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and a normative framework enshrined in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). While advocacy Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are playing a vital shadowing role that confronts ASEAN governments with the need to craft a credible protection mechanism, the lack of formal consultation with the current…

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THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF SOUTHEAST ASIA: CIVIL SOCIETY PERSPECTIVES

Abstract The Universal Periodic Review of Southeast Asia: Civil Society Perspectives provides a stakeholder analysis of human rights protection on the ground. The book reviews Southeast Asia’s civil society engagement with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council during the first (2008-2011) and second (2012-2016) cycle. Through evidence-based research the book identifies gaps in human rights reporting and advocacy during the UPR, notably on civil and political issues such as the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, territorial autonomy and separation. The book highlights the need…

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