Contributor(s)GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies - Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien
Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
internationale Beziehungen, Entwicklungspolitik
politische Willensbildung, politische Soziologie, politische Kultur
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AbstractThe 2014 ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) in Yangon, Myanmar, saw a record
attendance and provided a surprisingly open space for civil society. But the opposing
trends of democratic developments and authoritarian backlash in the member states
have also had significant repercussions at the regional level.
. In a time where civil liberties and human rights seem to be on the decline in the region
(e.g. Brunei’s introduction of sharia law, the shooting of demonstrating textile
workers in Cambodia, Thailand’s coup d’état), ASEAN civil society is presenting itself
as organized as rarely before. But government crackdowns are on the rise, and
nation states are denying civil society representatives space at the regional level.
*Civil society has the potential to address the democratic deficit of regional organizations
by establishing alternative regionalism from below.
*Civil society can give voice to transnationally marginalized groups, such as migrant
workers, whose interests are represented neither by their states of origin or residence
nor at the regional level.
*All justified doubts about the sincerity and sustainability of its transition process
notwithstanding, Myanmar has currently opened up spaces for civil society advocacy.
National organizations can benefit from interactions with the regional level.
*ASEAN’s ambitious plan to establish a “people-centered” community is undermined
by the reluctance of several member states to engage in dialogue with civil
*When faced with attempts to limit its space for participation, civil society has to
adopt either an “inside-outside” or “outsider by choice” approach. If it wants to be
accepted as a legitimate partner, civil society has to be transparent about the sources
of its own legitimacy and democratic internal structure.
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