Building a Regional Commons in Southeast Asia

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General Information

3rd International Conference on International Relations and Development (ICIRD 2013)

“Beyond Borders: Building a Regional Commons in Southeast Asia”

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 22-23 August 2013

Co-organized by: Master of Arts in Development Studies Program, Chulalongkorn University; Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University; Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development, Chiang Mai University; and Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University.


"Southeast Asia is a region in rapid economic, social, political and cultural transition. Both state-led development and an increasingly liberalized market economy have characterized the region’s development trajectory. There also exists, however, a long tradition of sharing - and contesting - various “commons” between people, communities, and countries. These commons include the spheres of: the economy; the social and societal; nature and natural resources; culture and knowledge; and the digital domain.

In Southeast Asia, perhaps the most well-known commons are the diverse forms of community cooperation over natural resources. The commons are not limited to this, however, and span the realm of the physical as well as the normative. In the region’s urban areas, for example, public spaces such as parks and universities are important places for peoples’ interaction and dialogue shaping various civic common values. Furthermore, at the regional level, governments attempt to cooperate through a deepening commitment to ASEAN, including in the economic, social, cultural, security and political spheres, which has the potential to either reinforce or undermine various commons across the region. In response, civil society has pushed for stronger regional common values, for example on political and civil rights, and addressing the social and environmental costs of economic growth.

A number of challenges persist in Southeast Asia of relevance to the commons. These include uneven economic development and governance across the region, political and social inequality, democratic deficits, unresolved ethnic conflicts, environmental degradation and enclosure of a range of natural resources, impacts from large-scale development projects, and human rights violations. By moving beyond the dichotomy of state-led or market-led development alone, the values, interests and institutions of the “commons” could offer transformative perspectives on development, international relations and human rights. It has been argued, for example, that a greater focus on the commons and their role in society can help enlarge freedoms, deepen democratic processes, strengthen political accountability, promote international cooperation, protect human rights, and ensure social and environmental justice."


Building on ICIRD 2011 and ICIRD 2012, the objectives of the conference are:

• From a theoretical and applied perspective, provide a forum for debate between scholars, practitioners, civil society and community representatives on current development, international relations and human rights trends in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on the role of the commons • Create a deeper and wider understanding of ’the commons’ within Southeast Asia, including from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and understand how the process of deepening ASEAN integration articulates with the commons at the local, national, regional and global scales • Explore how the concept of the commons might create new insights and alternatives towards more sustainable, fairer and peaceful development in Southeast Asia

Overarching conference themes

We welcome papers on the themes of development, international relations and human rights in Southeast Asia, in particular those that interrogate the various forms of ’commons’ (norms, values, concepts and institutions), including from a multi-disciplinary perspective. :

• Economic commons

o The common market: Regional economic integration and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) o Regional economic governance, including corruption o Globalization, trade liberalization and the influence of extra-regional powers o Energy and energy security, including oil and gas reserves

• Social and societal commons

o Regional normative commons: Human Rights (including the role of AICHR); Human Security; statelessness and citizenship o Democratization and the public sphere, including electoral integrity and political accountability o Towards a people-centered ASEAN community?: Social movements, civil society and public participation o Migration and migrants within an inter-connecting ASEAN

• Nature and Natural Resource commons

o Community management of common pool land, forests, fisheries, wildlife and water, including role of institutions, ethnicity, class, gender and belief systems o Enclosure and commodification of the commons: Land grabs and water grabs o Regional environmental cooperation on transborder common pool resources, for example the Mekong River, Salween River and cross-border forests. o Territorial claims and inter-state cooperation: Land and marine resources

• Cultural and Knowledge commons

o Copyrights and patenting, including intellectual property rights o Public knowledge o The ’creative commons’: commons-based peer production of knowledge o Right to access to information and media freedoms o Cultural commons and intangible cultural heritage including, traditions, language and religion

• The digital commons:

o Internet freedom o Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and Peace (ICT4P) o Web 2.0 applications (Twitter, wikis and blogs) in development, international cooperation and human rights

More Information

  • Call for Panel Proposals and Paper Abstracts – Submission Deadline 1st March 2013

Please send all submissions and inquiries to [email protected]