Governance, Human Rights & Development: Challenges for Southeast Asia and Beyond (ICIRD)

Venue: Thammasat University, Faculty of Political Science

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Event Date/Time: May 19, 2011 End Date/Time: May 20, 2011
Registration Date: May 19, 2011
Early Registration Date: Apr 15, 2011
Abstract Submission Date: Oct 30, 2010
Paper Submission Date: Mar 01, 2011
Report as Spam


The authority and capability of the nation state to centrally determine policies is diminishing, due to a multitude of simultaneous forces. These are both external and internal, consisting of new actors, as well as emerging issues. Globalization and regionalization are two external forces that amplify key issues on a transnational scale, such as sustainability, inequality, human rights, and development. Corresponding to these issues the emergence of a growing number of regional and international actors and institutions is taking place, placing individual states into a network of increasingly complex relationships.

New demands on the nation-state emerge from within as well. Often consistent with the issues mentioned above, internal actors (e.g. civil society, minorities, and media) add to the complexity of governance along social, ethnic, religious, and economic lines. Developing countries in Southeast Asia and beyond are thus faced with the dual challenge of 1) dealing with an ever more complex environment of actors and issues and 2) promoting economic growth and sustainable development while fulfilling human rights obligations.

The new network of actors poses threats, as well as opportunities to the societies of Southeast Asia. Although global institutions, such as WTO and IMF, effect binding international agreements without inclusion of national stakeholders, other transnational groupings may enhance the bargaining power of its members, such as ASEAN+3 on interests concerning countries along the Mekong river. Segments of national societies call into question the legitimacy of state power, as currently can be witnessed in Thailand (in the Deep South, as well as through anti-government rallies in Bangkok). Alternative ideas of governance in addition or in opposition to the state have been in existence across the region, and in many cases preceded the very notion of national unity and identity. At the same time, civil society raises crucial issues, whose persistence may erode societal integration in the long term, such as political and economic exclusion of segments of society.

In addition, pressing economic problems, such as wealth disparities, or economic crises, are no longer the sole responsibility of a developmental state. Instead, these issues are addressed through cooperation or competition of different actors. The ownership of resources, environmental degradation or concerns about corporate social responsibility in turn highlight the issue of economic governance.

This poses, among others, the following questions which are to be adressed in the First International Conference on International Relations and Developmen (ICIRD 2011):

- What are the effects of these trends for societies in Southeast Asia and in developing countries elsewhere?
- What are the institutional changes that are required to cope with these conditions?
- What are the comparative experiences of countries undergoing democratic transformations and institutional change?
- How can nation states and other governance actors address challenges to their legitimacy?