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Workshop on Civil Society Perspectives on Conflict and Peace In South and Southeast Asia
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 Workshop on Civil Society Perspectives on Conflict and Peace In South and Southeast Asia


Berghof Foundation for Peace Support (BFPS), Berlin, Regional Initiator for GPPAC South Asia , Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo and the Research Center for Peace Building / Mahidol University , Bangkok organized a workshop on Civil Society Perspectives on Conflict and Peace In South and Southeast Asia .  

The Workshop was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 23-25 January,2009 and brought together scholars and activists from South and South East Asia focusing on issues on conflict and peace related themes. Insights were shared on the role of civil society actors in promoting conflict transformation and peace building with respect to internal conflicts and on the role of regional collaboration to improve the effectiveness of conflict prevention and peace promotion.

The workshop opening involved mapping of internal conflicts and peace processes in South and South East Asia. It addressed the potential of Track 2 and 3 activities on peace building and conflict transformation and focused on the multi track civil society engagements in the region taking Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Philippines and South Thailand as case studies. The role of SAARC and ASEAN with regard to internal conflicts and the encouragement of CSOs to play constructive roles in this respect were also examined during the workshop.


The workshop aimed at looking at a ‘way forward’ with enhanced regional networking, conclusions for regional peace agendas and the collaborative potential of civil society actors.



This report aims to trigger the minds of participants to issues brought out during discussions and underscore the issues that persistently crop up during day to day work of peace activists and scholars. Presentations pertaining to the discussions have already been forwarded

Key Points of Discussion

Mapping of Internal Conflicts & Peace Processes in S & SEA

  1. Mis-governance
  2. Division of CS to moderate and extremists
  3. Education is the key - awareness and consciousness about various issues that create conflicts
  4. Has the discourse on war on terror had a negative effect in domestic and international legislation or attempts at mobilizing
  5. Increased role of women in peace processes in SA
  6. What is the role of SAARC/ASEAN in Peace Processes in the regions
  7. How can Aceh experience be transferred as a best practice?
  8. Women’s role in local PB is much stronger than influencing Govt’s policies
  9. Govts have the Top Down approach, where they are expected to define the rights and privileges of the parties to the conflict/ CSO work with grassroots concerns and with a Bottom Up approach/Ideally these two approaches should meet at some point and no doubt this will create very positive impacts/
  10. Peace Process in general involve the key actors-those we see at the table/ those who are perceived as most risky to peace and security- gun carriers
  11. CS have a role to play before, while and after a formal PP
 Role of Civil Society with respect to Peace Building and Conflict Transformation
  1. Funding and support for PB, CR and CT activities come from the West, but the ownership of peace, PB, CR and CT should remain within our countries and regions
  2. A vital element in PB activities, how much does the people trust CSOs
  3. We see our ‘local partners’ organizing our workshop, looking into logistics etc, but not have the time to add substance to the workshop content and conduct
  4. We identify conflict actors easily, but do we identify peace actors?
  5. If Track I tries to pursue a military solution, people who worked on Track II and III are in a very dangerous situation
  6. Can well intended pro-peace initiatives have counter productive impacts/provoke anti peace movements?
  7. Polarization/ fragmentization/ reconciliation/co-existence
  8. Flexibility to change oneself according to the context
  9. How best can universities work? As a think tank? As support to grass roots organization to steer their own mechanisms and initiatives/communicate to the public and influence public opinion
  10. Outsiders role-facilitating and supportive
  11. Competitive advantage of CSOs?
 Multi Track Civil Society Engagements in SA
  1. To identify who really would be suitable at the table…who can influence the people
  2. All sides accept that they wont get all that they asked for
  3. Use CS dialogues for consensus building
  4. CS emerging to challenge the state?- Govts concern
  5. Driving force could be the political society
  6. Indo Pak Talks - in last 5 years, we see a progress/forward looking process/All 3 sides accept that they wont get all that they asked for
  7. We have the peace movement; we have a major set back with regard to getting the countries together.

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Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
999 Puthamonthon 4th Road, Salaya, Puthamonthon, Nakornpathom 73170 Thailand
Tel: +662 849 6072-5 Fax: +662 849 6075
Email: pewww@mahidol.ac.th