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The book focuses on disinformation, fake news and foreign influence operations immediately prior to and during elections that have taken place in the years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 in East Asia. Chapters on Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan as well as chapters on China’s influence operations targeted at elections and political activities in these countries are encouraged. 

The book focuses on disinformation, hoaxes and fake news immediately prior to and during the presidential elections of 2019. It  makes comparisons to the 2014 presidential elections and also discusses the post-2019 elections scenario. The key question the book addresses is whether the different type of fake news had an impact on voter behaviour, candidates’ policy positions, the electoral results and the overall politics of identify in Indonesia. The book also examines and evaluates independent fact-checking initatives and reviews government policy measures. 

This work explains the emerging human rights protection architecture of Southeast Asia. While the human rights protection challenges in the region are many, the authors seek to outline the rights architecture that has been developed over the last decade and the potential for the deepening of rights protection in the next decade and beyond. This architecture comprises the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Southeast Asia, the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and civil society organisations (CSOs). An emerging complementary process is the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation and monitoring process, which harbours a thickening of the regional rights framework. The linchpin of this architecture is the AICHR and its linkages with the other processes. This work argues that there are normative and institutional avenues that are available to AICHR in order to develop a stronger regional protection mechanism. Key elements of a protection mechanism that will be explored include: the development of institutionalised engagement with civil society organizations in their formal deliberations, development of a complaints system, the role of the AICHR Representatives in advancing protection, better interaction with ASEAN’s other institutions, the incorporation of the UPR recommendations into AICHR deliberations and the need for a binding, legal  regional human rights framework. This work seeks to constructively offer pathways towards improving the overall architecture. The study is timely, 10 years since the launch of AICHR.

Elections in Asia are increasingly witnessing a rise in information manipulation to influence voter views and behavior. Behavioral manipulation takes place as electoral candidates, political parties and interest groups take to social media to spread fake news with the aim of discrediting their opponents and gaining support for their electoral candidates and/or political parties. In this book, the authors will assess the impact of fake news on electoral outcomes in East, South and Southeast Asia from the years 2018-2020. The aim is to provide an understanding of the evolving issues related to fake news and elections and to review its implications for democracy in Asia.

In this forthcoming work the authors, collectively, point to rising concern over the human rights impact of business organisations in Asia, where Governments have recently begun to consider the need for rules and policies in this area. This work showcases the upswing in Government interest in business and human rights in Asia. It focuses on the role of government accountability in the business and human rights framework in the region, which has hitherto been understudied. It also highlights the challenges inherent in the formulation of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights. It identifies innovative themes such as smart cities, ethical consumer behaviour and a human rights management system, which are emerging areas of enquiry in relation to business and human rights.  

This book reviews Southeast Asia’s National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as part of an emerging assessment of a nascent regional human rights architecture that is facing significant challenges in protecting human rights. As part of this architecture, the book asks can NHRIs overcome its weakness and provide protection, including remedies to victims of human rights abuses? Assessing such capacity is vital as the future of human rights protection lies at the national level and other parts of the architecture – the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the international mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – are helpful but also have their limitations. The critical question the book addresses is whether NHRIs individually or collaboratively provide protection of fundamental human rights. The body of work offered by this book showcases the progress of the NHRIs in Southeast Asia where they also act as a barometer for the fluid political climate of their respective countries. Specifically, the book examines the NHRIs’ capacity to provide protection, notably through the pursuit of quasi-judicial functions, and concludes that this function has either been eroded due to political developments post-establishment or has not been included in the first place. The book’s findings point to the need for NHRIs to increase their effectiveness in the protection of human rights. The book is an invitation to readers and stakeholders to find ways of addressing this gap.

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 for more civil society engagement on civil and political issues during the third cycle of the UPR in 2017-2020. Failing which, the UPR process risks being reduced to a platform where civil society only engage on issues that States are willing to cooperate on. More pressure needs to be put on States to follow-up and implement recommendations. The book is the first regional appraisal of the UPR in Southeast Asia. It is based on the human rights programme of the Asia Centre.

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