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Southeast Asian Regionalism, Norm Promotion and Capacity Building for Human Protection: An Overview

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

This article provides an overview of how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has responded to human protection issues such as human rights, mass atrocities prevention, and civilian protection in armed conflicts. It examines the evolution and dynamics of ASEAN’s regionalism and the factors that shaped and transformed its norms. While ASEAN has adopted the language of human security and human protection, traditional norms of sovereignty and non-interference remain sticky. The pluralist nature of ASEAN also limits the organization from responding effectively to crisis situations within member states such as identity-based conflicts. However, there are also opportunities for continuing engagement on human protection issues with various stakeholders at the regional and domestic levels. Some ASEAN member states are more open to mainstreaming the principle of Responsibility to Protect in the agenda of ASEAN and recognize the importance of building the capacity of member states in preventing mass atrocities.

Affiliations: 1: University of Queensland,


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