UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Understanding the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework and China’s role in the Mekong Region" [Bangkok, 3 September 2018]

09.00 - 17.00, Monday, 3rd September at Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor, Kasem Utthayanin Building (อาคารเกษม อุทยานิน), Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Co-organized by chinadialogue, The Third Pole, Earth Journalism Network, and the Centre for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

The Mekong region is facing a period of rapid change shaped by a significant shift over the past decade in its relationship with China. New pathways of regional integration and intergovernmental cooperation have emerged, including through the Belt and Road Initiative and the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework. Associated with these shifts have been deepening trade between China and the Mekong Region, and growing flows of investment from China into a range of projects including large dams, railways, and industrial projects. Whilst these trends reflect a geo-economic shift, longstanding challenges on environmental sustainability, social equity, government-investor accountability to the public and public participation remain. Inevitably it seems, China, as a powerful country, will play a key role in shaping the future path of the Mekong Region.

This public forum will bring together experts and journalists from China and lower Mekong countries to discuss the geopolitical implications of Chinese investment and regional initiatives in the Mekong Region. It will address the Belt and Road Initiative; the challenges and opportunities in transboundary water governance under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework, together with other emerging cooperation issues; and debate by regional journalists about the trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media on reporting on China’s role in the Mekong Region.

 

Program and List of Panelists:

08.15 - 09.00  Registration

09.00 - 09.15  Welcome remarks by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

09.15 - 10.45  Session 1: The Belt and Road Initiative:  Geopolitical implications for Asia

Moderator: Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

  • 'Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of the Belt and Road Initiative' by Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Chulalongkorn University

  • 'The Belt and Road Initiative: A Perspective from China' by Mr. Li Hong,Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP)

  • 'What does the Belt and Road Initiative mean for US-Thailand relations?' by Benjamin Zawacki, Independent Analyst

  • 'Debt Diplomacy?: The experience of Sri Lanka' by Amantha Perera, Journalist

10.45 - 11.15  Coffee break

11.15 - 12.45  Session 2: Transboundary Water Cooperation – Progress and Challenges

Moderator: Dr. Ukrist Pathmanand, Mekong Research Center, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University  

12.45 - 13.30  Lunch

13.30 - 14.45  Session 3: Rise of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework: Emerging cooperation issues

Moderator: Kamol Sukin, China Dialogue

14.45 - 15.15  Coffee Break

15.15 - 16.45  Session 4: Reporting on the Mekong and China’s role: Trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media

Moderator: Sim Kok Eng Amy, Earth Journalism Network

16.45 - 17.00  Closing Reflections

  • Dr. Sam Geall, China Dialogue

  • Professor Surichai Wun’gaeo, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

 

*This event will be broadcasted on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/CSDSChula/

 

To register for this forum, please e-mail us your name, organisation, and position to  Anisa Widyasari (CSDS) at communications.csds@gmail.com. The seat is limited and registration will be accepted on first come first served basis.

 
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UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "New Regimes of Commodification and State Formation on the Resource Frontier of Southeast Asia" [Helsinki, 17 August 2018]

Session organized for the 4th Annual Conference of the World-Eco­logy Research Net­work in Helsinki, Fin­land

13:00-14:30, 17 August 2018, Fabianinkatu 33, Room 3008, University of Helsinki

 

Conveners: Anu Lounela, Tuomas Tammisto and Mira Kakonen

Discussant: Carl Middleton

This thematic panel is to examine the interplay between the commodification of nature, value production, and state formation especially in Southeast Asia but possibly also in other regions. Southeast Asian countries are experiencing rapid transformations shaped by new dynamics involving investors from China and from the wealthiest ASEAN countries. The pace of change is fast, with high-tech special economic zones, extractive mining and hydropower enclaves, and large-scale agro-industrial land concessions emerging alongside smallholders or forest-dependent communities whose populations in Southeast Asia still number in tens of millions. New boom and bust cycles of industrial crops like rubber and oil palm are constantly re-shaping the rural landscapes. In the Southeast Asian resource frontiers competition over resources and land is high, the presence of the state is fragmented and uneven, and new property systems and legal arrangements are in the making. This panel aims to explore: How does rapid commodification of natural elements constitute or entangle with various processes of state formation in the frontiers of Southeast Asia? How do different actors and groups compete over different values and meanings of resources and with what effects?

Presenters:

  • "New Commodity Regimes in the Making of Frontiers in Indonesia" by Anu Lounela (University of Helsinki)
  • "State Formation on the Oil Palm Frontier of Papua New Guinea" by Tuomas Tammisto (University of Helsinki)
  • "Interplay of Resoruce-Making and State-Making in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia" by Mira Kakonen (University of Helsinki)
  • “Resource Politics in Myanmar/Burma through the Lens of Hydrosocial Territories: Implications for the Peace Negotiation Process" by Johanna Gotz and Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University)

Conference details are available here.

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UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Conflicts and Resource Politics in Myanmar" [Helsinki, 15 August 2018]

Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar

Discussion on the complex resource politics and its implications for the peace process in Myanmar

 

Wednesday 15th August, 10:00-13:30 at Think Corner (Tiedekulma), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4, Helsinki, Finland

Organized by: Development Studies, University of Helsinki in collaboration with Felm and Siemenpuu Foundation

Myanmar is experiencing a complicated process of transition towards a civilian government, multi-party democratic elections, and peace negotiations. At the same time, the recent opening of the country has resulted in an accelerating rush for the rich natural resources, including a boom in extractive industrial and agribusiness projects. Most of these resources are located in the ethnic states and many of the grievances of the various ethnic communities are entangled with the questions of access to and control over resources. In this event researchers, NGO representatives and social movement activists discuss the ways that land and other resource rights should be addressed as a part of conflict resolution towards sustainable peace in Myanmar.

The recent political changes in Myanmar has also meant a rush of different international development organisations to the country. Recently Finland too has decided to focus its support in Southeast Asia to Myanmar. The event includes a panel discussion on the Finland’s future role in Myanmar with perspectives from civil society, ministry officials and private sector.

Speakers:

  • Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University
  • Khu Khu Ju, Land in Our Hands, Transnational Institute
  • Kyi Phyo, Mekong Energy and Ecology Network

*This event is a side event of the 4th Annual World-Ecology Research Network Conference that takes place this year in Helsinki (15-18 August).

Event details are available here.

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UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: Political ecology, water, and the hydrosocial cycle [22 June 2018]

Session organized for the “POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities” conference

8:30-10:00, 22 June 2018, Pilestredet 35, Room 35-PI 556, Oslo Metropolitan University

Presenters:

  • “Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t? Mixed methods approaches in understanding the links between poverty and inequality and dam construction” by Lucy Goodman (Cambridge University)
  • “How river basins in Thailand and Japan relate: Politicizing virtual water through a hydrosocial lens” by Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University) and Takeshi Ito (Sophia University)
  • “Living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia: A political ecology of vulnerability, migration and environmental change” by Becky Elmhirst (University of Brighton)

Conference details are available here.

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UPCOMING CONFERENCE: Graduate Studies in the Disruptive Society: Innovation in Human Rights, Development Studies and Resource Politics [12-13 July 2018]

UPCOMING CONFERENCE:  Graduate Studies in the Disruptive Society: Innovation in Human Rights, Development Studies and Resource Politics [12-13 July 2018]

In commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, a special conference centered on the idea of academia in activism will be held at Chulalongkorn University from 12-13 July 2018 at the Faculty of Political Science Main Building. 

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UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Thailand’s Overseas Investment in Southeast Asia and Transnational (In)Justice" [16 July 2017]

Session organized at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies
"Globalized Thailand?" Connectivity, Conflict, and Conundrums of Thai Studies
 

15:15-16:45, 16th July 2017, Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center

Session convened by the Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand’s companies have become major investors in neighboring countries, including in agribusiness, hydropower, mining and various forms of industry. Thailand’s companies are backed by government policy, and typically financed by Thai commercial banks as well as, sometimes, Thailand’s Export Import Bank (Thai Exim). Thailand’s regional investment has furthermore been facilitated by various regional economic integration programs, including the Asian Development Bank’s Greater Mekong Subregion Program and more recently the ASEAN Economic Community. As one of the major economies of mainland Southeast Asia, Thailand has sought to positioned itself as central to economic regionalization. Given that Thailand itself is embedded within a wider global network of production, its companies’ investment in neighboring countries’ resource extraction and commodity production can also tied to a wider global political economy.

Whilst it seems that investment, commodities, goods and natural resources flow readily across borders, the same cannot be said of access to justice. In this panel, empirical case studies will be presented of Thailand’s cross-border investments that have in the process resulted in environmental and social harms, and in some cases violated human rights. The panel explores the various processes and arenas that have emerged as communities and civil society have sought redress and access to justice. These arenas have included in the national courts of the project host country, but also through various formal and informal cross-border processes that link to Thailand, including via Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (TNHRC), and in one example a case ruled upon by Thailand’s administrative court. Meanwhile, a report of the TNHRC on the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar led to a Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommendation in March 2016 that the government should set up a mechanism for the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for Thai companies investing overseas. Thus, a wider array of international norms is also brought into play, reflecting the legal pluralism that nowadays governs cross-border investments. This also brings into focus a question of the extra-territorial obligations of Thailand with regard to the investment of Thai companies.

This panel will critically evaluate Thailand’s investment role in the region through the lens of transnational social and environmental justice. Through empirical case studies on agribusiness, hydropower and special economic zones, the political economy of these investments will be explored in order to understand the production of injustice and human rights violations.  The papers will ask: what are the roles, opportunities and challenges for public interest law, national/ regional human rights institutions, other transnational soft law mechanisms, and civil society to protect and promote human rights on Thailand’s investments?

  • Paper 1:  Accountability Beyond the State: Extra territorial obligations in the case of the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Concession, Cambodia by Michelle D’cruz
  • Paper 2: Redressing transboundary environmental injustice at the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Roadlink Project by Naruemon Thabchumpon
  • Paper 3: Arenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: Human Rights and Hydropower Dams on the Salween and Mekong Rivers by Carl Middleton

Discussant: Walden Bello.

Chair: Daniel King

Abstracts can be downloaded here (see page 7; session 53). Conference details are available here.

UPCOMING WORKSHOP: "Stakeholder Conference on “Transdisciplinary Approaches to Migration, Environmental Change, and Social Inequality” [21 and 22 June 2017]

9:00-17:00, Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor
Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Co-organized by
the MA in International Development Studies Program, Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS), and the Faculty of Political Science Chulalongkorn University.

Background

Many contemporary development challenges in Southeast Asia are complex and inter-related, including environmental degradation; migration; and social inequality. To appropriately understand these challenges and identify novel insights and innovative solutions, transdisciplinary approaches are required. Not only does this therefore require new research methodologies and new skills for researchers and practitioners, but it also requires universities to develop new curriculum, teaching/ learning materials, and programs.

The Fostering Multi-Lateral Knowledge Networks of Transdisciplinary Studies to Tackle Global Challenges KNOTS project aims to contribute towards meeting this challenge. The three-year project was initiated in October 2016, and is a collaboration between seven universities in Europe, Thailand and Vietnam: the University of Vienna, Austria, which is also the project coordinator; Charles University, Czechia; University of Bonn, Germany; Chulalongkorn University and Chiang Mai University, Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Southern Institute of Social Sciences, and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Vietnam. The project is funded by the European Commission’s ERASMUS+ programme.

Event objectives

The objectives of the Stakeholder Workshop are as follows:

  • To deepen understanding on development challenges in Southeast Asia as viewed through a transdisciplinary lens, focusing on environmental degradation; migration; and social inequality
  • To inform KNOTS project design towards establishing innovative teaching methodologies with contribution from academics and non-academic stakeholders in Southeast Asia
  • To contribute towards establishing a “transdisciplinary knowledge network” on Southeast Asia