Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Welcome to hbs Southeast Asia

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Fifty years is a long time. Memory will play tricks with you after such a time, and I can’t quite remember when it was I first heard of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN.

Ecology & Social Justice

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When the 19 member countries and the EU gathered in Hamburg for the G20 Summit one important topic was not on the agenda: from China to Mexico, Turkey to Russia, Saudi Arabia to India – the respect for fundamental human rights can no longer be taken for granted.

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China's increasing presence, from economic to military links, is leading to a potential emergence of Chinese spheres of influence in which Southeast Asia will be regarded as China‘s backyard. To many observers, China‘s regional leadership constitutes an irresistible outcome of China‘s remarkable economic performances and influence. Although the strategic options of smaller powers are limited, ASEAN’s strategies towards great powers show that smaller powers still have a diverse menu of strategic options to choose from, depending on which is most effective in meeting its short- and long-term needs.

Traditional Farm House in Myanmar
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Organic food production is still a niche market in ASEAN countries, yet one on the rise. Health and ecological concerns have brought sustainable farming methods including small-scale and organic farming back to the table. This article takes a look at new strategies of sustainable food production in ASEAN with perspectives from Thailand, Myanmar, and Singapore.

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Representatives of indigenous Karen communities in Myanmar this week filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand alleging human rights violations resulting from the activities of Thai companies operating an open-pit coal mine. The Ban Chaung mine has polluted the air and water, harmed the livelihoods of local people, and led to the illegal seizure of agricultural land, among other harmful impacts, according to the complaint.

We, civil society organizations working to achieve sustainable development in Vietnam, express our collective concern with the Energy Strategy articulated in the Discussion Draft released by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

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Democracy & Participation

ACSC/APF Mobilization
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The eleven-year experience of engagement with the official ASEAN process has taught civil society movements in Southeast Asia valuable lessons that should guide its future trajectories. Disappointment, rejection, and disillusionment should now be a thing of the past and chalked up to experience. The real challenge facing ACSC/APF today lies from outside and beyond the established ASEAN process. 

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Obtaining ASEAN membership has been one of Timor-Leste’s foreign policy goals since 2002.  This article discusses the current dynamic in Timor-Leste and what it means to be an ASEAN member. This is based on the domestic context that shapes Timor’s interests. Many commentators have taken a position in advocating for Timor’s membership based on short-sighted policies. At the same time, ASEAN continues to argue that Timor "does not have the capacity”. This article goes further by asking how Timor-Leste can benefit from this membership and what the necessary conditions are for Timor to do so.

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The romance between ASEAN citizens and social media lives on. Social media continues to shape a more integrated and digitally savvy regional community. It has proven that its people have set limitations due to geographical borders, customary social divides, economic status and perhaps national laws and policies. At 50, ASEAN and its member states must admit that social media is not just here to stay, but is and will remain a dynamic force to be reckoned with.

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The Indonesian case of homophobia (or even some other ASEAN countries) reveals that homosexuality issues are more complex and are more than just moral or immoral debates; they are about national reactions to the rapid transmission of global discourse, the dynamic of movements and counter-movements in democracy, and also the state’s multifaceted representation which place sexuality as a political issue of our contemporary time.

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2017 is a particularly critical year for ASEAN as it celebrates its 50th anniversary; it is timely for the Southeast Asia to prove itself as a region that emphasizes putting ASEAN’s people first. Such recognition of civil society, not as a threat, but as an important ally in ensuring the realisation of human rights for all Asean citizens is critical to the development of a sustainable ASEAN Community.

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About the foundation

Publications

Cover of the Ocean Atlas published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation

Without the ocean there would be no life on our planet. But the future of this unique ecosystem faces a grave threat today. The Ocean Atlas 2017 delivers with its 18 contributions and 50 graphics the relevant facts and figures about the ocean.

Indonesia will be able to play a leading role in the fight against climate change, and gets a global significance. To that end, a political leadership is needed which is able to promote consistency between the declared commitment shown in international forums and genuine implementation efforts.

The Future of Civic Space: What are the Realities of “Shrinking Space”

DOSSIER: SQUEEZED – SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY

Photo: Niklas Hughes. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.