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Internal and Cross-Border Conflict Programme: Bridging Multilevel and Multilateral Approaches to Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Background and approach 

Asia is a region where internal conflicts continue to plague state and human security, despite the decline of inter-state conflicts since the end of the Cold War. Moreover, studies on the patterns of internal conflicts have also been confined to armed insurgencies, secessionism and civil conflicts, while less attention has been given to other forms of internal conflicts such as religious and/or ethnically-motivated communal violence, violent political clashes among competing political forces, and political uprisings. In recent years, the dimensions of internal conflict in Asia have also become more complex due to the growing challenges posed by religious radicalism and terrorism.

To be sure, the multiplicity of patterns of internal conflicts in Asia has dramatically increased the human costs of conflicts and violent threats faced by people within states. These have also resulted in an array of human insecurities, from poverty and human deprivation, mass population displacement, worsening human rights abuses, particularly among women and children, marginalization, threats of infectious diseases, and forced migration to a host of transnational crimes. In Southeast Asia for example, internal conflicts within individual member states have had actual and potential cross-border implications. The secessionist and insurgency problems in the Philippines, the violence in the Muslim provinces in Southern Thailand, the ethnic tensions in Myanmar and restive provinces in Indonesia could all affect regional security and stability.

Against this background, the project investigated the dynamics of internal conflicts, human security and multi-level and multilateral approaches to conflict management East Asia. Among the questions we examined include:

  • What are the emerging patterns of internal conflicts in the region and what are the cross-border security challenges?

  • What are the existing frameworks, if any, for conflict prevention and resolution and how do we build effective regional and multilateral mechanisms for conflict management?

  • How do we navigate between the zealousness of protecting state sovereignty and the compelling need for regional security cooperation?

  • What role should sub-national entities and civil society play in conflict prevention and management?

  • How do we promote multi-level and multilateral engagement for conflict prevention and resolution?


Programme Activities

  • Analysis of the Dynamics of Internal Conflicts: The objective of conflict analysis was to provide suitable explanations of the sources of conflict and the actors that drive it. Detailed analysis allowed for stronger and better informed programme designs and interventions by various stakeholders. This provided the tools with which to develop effective measures to prevent conflict.

  • Protection of Civilians (POC): Refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), asylum seekers, and stateless persons often lose everything – their families, communities, houses, jobs, and their sense of security and belonging. The project sought to understand the insecurities they face so that effective policies could be designed in order to help mitigate against them.

  • Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) in Asia: In the 2005 UN World Summit, 191 heads of state and government representatives unanimously endorsed RtoP. Since 2005, there have been various responses and so it is important to evaluate the ongoing discussion to map the traction RtoP has with actors in Asia. The project sought to assist in the dissemination of its principles as laid down in the 2005 Outcome Document. 

  • Multi-level and Multilateral Approaches to Internal Conflict: Given the multi-dimensional nature of internal conflicts, it is important that all stakeholders such as ASEAN, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), academia, etc., participate and actively promote new and creative ways to effectively address the root causes of conflict and promote resolution across and between different levels of governance.

  • Security Sector Governance: The security sector includes armed and police forces, intelligence agencies, as well as institutions that oversee internal and external security. As such, these organisations have a significant role in managing internal conflict. An unprofessional security sector can trigger or exacerbate a conflict. In light of this, an evaluation of security sector governance in the region and an investigation into possible avenues for reform were needed.

Posted on: 2/6/2014 11:56:20 PM  |  Topic: Internal and Cross-Border Conflict

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