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9th International Conference – Shrinking Civic Space in Asia: Stories of Resistance and Pushback

21 August - 23 August


Asia Centre’s 9th Annual International Conference will revolve around stories of resistance and pushback in defence of civic space in Asia. This topic is pressing and timely given the widespread contraction of civic spaces in the region which poses a threat to the future of democratics societies. 

A free civic environment is an essential characteristic of democratic systems as it guarantees the freedom of individuals to express their opinions, assemble peacefully, form and join associations and organisations, and access information without constraints. Upholding the principles of democracy, human rights, media freedom and the rule of law is crucial in achieving this objective, as outlined in international human rights covenants. These principles ensure that individuals can actively participate in shaping policies, holding governments publicly accountable, and advocating for social change.

Despite the existence of numerous provisions in international human rights agreements and national constitutions that encompass similar principles, global indicators flag a significant lack of quality in civic spaces in Asia. Deteriorating civil liberties and media freedom exemplify the continuous shrinking of such spaces over the past two decades. This has resulted in a backsliding of democracy. 

In the face of repression, civil society actors have remained resilient in their pursuit of accountability and the restoration of democratic principles as a means to counter shrinking civic spaces. With collective efforts like non-violence resistance and the use of digital media to combat information operations and false information, individuals and organisations strive to protect democratic values, human rights, media freedoms and the rule of law. 

There are many stories of resistance and pushback. However, efforts must continue not only to prevent civic spaces from shrinking but to reverse any contractions that have taken place. In order to comprehend and assess the implications of shrinking civic spaces on freedoms and to identify solutions, this policy and advocacy-oriented conference aims to take stock of the challenges faced by civil society actors. It will review their actions to date to resist and push back on shrinking civic space as well as identify innovative approaches to defend and enhance democracy in Asia.



The conference will examine the following sub-themes: 

  • Criminalisation and Prosecution of Changemakers
  • Emergency Laws and Powers in Times of Crisis
  • The Rise of Authoritarian Alliances
  • Foreign Interference from Authoritarian Governments
  • Media Crackdowns: Limiting Opportunities for Accountability
  • Online State Surveillance
  • Tech Companies and Content Moderation
  • Discrimination against Ethnic and Religious Minorities
  • Gender-based Violence of Activists 
  • Youth-led and Horizontal Social Movements
  • Fostering Resistance Cross-border Collaborations
  • Resources and Support for Sustainable Pushback
  • or any other related themes



The conference aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Convene individuals and organisations researching civic space in Asia.
  • Examine methods of resistance and pushback.
  • Evaluate the overall impact on democracy and human rights in Asia.


Conference Structure

The conference will consist of short remarks, keynote speeches, plenary discussions and breakout sessions made of thematic panels, regional, and country-specific panels.


Conference Participants

Registration is open to all presenters and participants from academic institutions, media outlets and journalist associations, businesses, national and regional civil society organisations, international NGOs, political parties, parliaments, government agencies and intergovernmental organisations to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking.


Submission Guidelines

Researchers and practitioners wishing to present papers or share their experiences are invited to submit a title and abstract of 300-340 words in English, together with a biographical paragraph of 100 words, here. For those submitting papers, full papers should be 5,000 words (Please refer to the Style Sheet Guidelines).

Programme Outline

DAY 0 | 21 August 2024

6:30 PM – 8 PM         Welcome Reception and Evening Panel

DAY 1: 22 | August 2024

9 AM – 6 PM              Morning & Afternoon Panels

DAY 2: 23 | August 2024

9 AM – 6 PM              Morning & Afternoon Panels


Conference Publications

Following the international conference, Asia Centre will publish the Conference Proceedings.

Guidelines for the Conference Proceedings can be found here


Conference Fee

This is a self-funded conference, hence a flat, base fee of USD 300 will be charged to all presenters, participants and drop-in visitors. This will go towards covering the cost of the venue, equipment and logistics, coffee breaks on all days, certificates for participants, conference communications and staff. Conference fee (USD 300) does NOT cover a flight ticket, accommodation, and any other expenses related to travel advisory.


Conference Partnerships

Asia Centre welcomes organisations and individuals to be conference partners and sponsors by co-convening the event, panels, keynote speakers and participants. This will provide partners an opportunity to network and forge linkages with academia, businesses, civil society, governments, and international organisations in the region and beyond; and can promote their organisation and activities.


Partner Benefits

  • Logo on all publicity materials online and at the conference venue.
  • Social media and mailing list promotion through Asia Centre’s networks.
  • Display and distribute promotional materials from partner organisations to the participants.
  • Develop expertise on the issues covered by the conference themes.


Additional Options

  • Sponsor participants by buying conference tickets.
  • Sponsor a keynote speaker by providing a financial grant to the conference.
  • Provide corporate sponsorship (in-kind and/or financial grants) and be featured on promotional materials.


Enquiries and Registration

Please contact us at contact@asiacentre.org

Register here



21 August
23 August
Event Category:


Asia Centre
View Organizer Website