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Asia Pacific Study Group

History and Background

During a plenary session at GAAMAC II on 3 February 2016, former UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, invited all participants to brainstorm and formulate concrete proposals to more effectively prevent atrocities. Participants organically created four regional working groups from Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe. 

The Asia Pacific region is home to multi-ethnic societies with rich and diverse civilizations, political culture, and history. While many states have achieved some degree of political stability economic development, some societies and states in this part of the world are still in the process of strengthening their responsibility to manage diversity in a peaceful manner and to protect their populations, notably minority groups.

Additionally, some countries in the region are facing identity-based violence, including armed rebellion at national level, and/or as well as identity based ethnic violence at community level that remain unresolved because of deep-seated prejudices, lack of social trust, and persistent poverty and economic inequalities.  With the growing use and influence of social media, intolerance and discrimination against minority groups can be exacerbated by the use of hate speech and fake news that sometimes generates incitement that leads to violent attacks against vulnerable populations, including women. 

There is now a growing need in this region to understand how to constructively deal with diversity, and how to strengthen early-warning mechanisms to strengthen States capacity to uphold their responsibilities to protect and prevent. Sharing good practices, reinforcing national mechanisms, institutions, and legislations to identify risk factors will strengthen the capacity of a State to prevent the commission of mass atrocities and promote peaceful ways of coexistence and resilience.

Activities

The APSG works on raising awareness, building knowledge and understanding of mechanisms to prevent atrocities considering hate speech, incitement and discrimination as lead risk factors to the commission of mass atrocities in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020 and 2021, the APSG has focused on these activities: 

  • Case studies on Myanmar, India and the Philippines

Three teams of researchers examined the relevant context, factors, and dynamics of hate speech and incitement in on the situation of the Rohingya population in Myanmar, ethnic minorities in India, and the Bangsamoro population in the Philippines.

  • Additional case studies in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic

In 2020-2021 additional case studies were developed, two being country focussed, and the third being regionally focussed on the theme of hate-speech in relation to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes an analysis of regional trends in hate speech directed towards refugee and irregular migrant populations (such as the Rohingya in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh post Covid-19), and regional mechanisms for addressing hate speech and incitement in Southeast Asia.

  • Dissemination workshops

Between 2021 and 2022, the APSG will disseminate its findings in targeted regional workshops for civil society organizations, academic participants and government/regional organization stakeholders.

Members

  • Cecilia Jacob (Australian National University)
  • Noel Morada (Senior Research Fellow and Director for Regional Diplomacy, Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland)
  • Babloo Loitongbam (Human Rights Alert, Manipur)
  • Hafid Abbas (University of Indonesia)
  • Ruji Auethavornpipat (Expert on irregular migration in Southeast Asia, ASEAN and human rights protection)
  • Majella Diezmos (Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines)
  • Nadira Kourt (Program Manager at Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect)
  • Gus Miclat (Executive Director of Initiatives for International Dialogue)
  • Akila Radhakrishnan (President of the Global Justice Center)
  • Naureen Rahim (Coordinator at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Justice, Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh)
  • Nyunt Swe (Former member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission)
  • Salma Yusuf (Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka)