The 6th Asia-Europe Roundtable (AER) was held on 10-12 June 09 in Derry and Letterkenny in both jurisdictions in Ireland. The Roundtable enabled an examination of the different types of minority conflicts with a particular focus on “frozen conflicts” in which the cessation of open hostility offers a chance for the regional and international community to look into possible political solutions and framework for sustainable peace. The Roundtable also facilitated the discussion of relevant case studies, and illustrated how particular conflicts can provide different perspectives on various possible solutions or frameworks for managing conflict in general.
The ending of the Cold War has not brought about sustainable peace and stability in Asia and Europe, despite the initial euphoria. In both Asia and Europe, old ethno-religious conflict and separatist movements have persisted (eg Mindanao in the Philippines, Basque Region in Spain etc). At the same time, newer conflicts have appeared predominantly in Southeast Europe and the Caucasus and some seemingly “frozen” conflicts have reopened over the last few years (eg South Ossetia). The processes of political transition and the relentless forces of globalisation have also contributed to the rise of ethnic tensions and identity politics—particularly at a time of great economic pressure. There is a need therefore to intensify the search for tools, mechanisms and methods in managing if not resolving these conflicts.
Specifically, the 6th AER sought to:
• Understand the differences and complexities of various minority conflicts and different minority demands including (but not limited to) affirmative action, cultural autonomy and secession so that appropriate solutions can be formulated and applied;
• Examine the process in which inter-communal differences may escalate into political violence and extremism;
• Highlight useful and substantive insights from case studies and draw out implications for conflict management;
• Examine the institutional capacity of different political systems and the different legal and political frameworks to accommodate minorities;
• Explore the possibilities of using the ASEM framework or other Asia-Europe dialogue forum or processes to address minority conflicts in these two regions.
Outcomes of the Roundtable:
Through the active participation of all, the following was achieved:
• A set of policy recommendations on minority conflict management to political decision makers in Asia and Europe;
• Identified issues and case studies that could be effectively addressed within the ASEM framework and through co-operation among key stakeholders in Asia and Europe;
• Identified areas for further research and possible indicators for conflict monitoring;
• Encouraged participants to bring back some of these collective knowledge and share it with their respective networks to generate collaboration on minority conflict management;
• Publish a policy brief consolidating the knowledge on causes, consequences and collective management of minority conflicts.
The outcomes of the roundtable will be presented later this year in Brussels to key stakeholders as part of the EU-Asia Policy Forum.
This roundtable is organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Office for Cooperation in Asia, and the Singapore Institute for International Affairs (SIIA), in partnership with the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus, the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and supported by the EUforAsia Policy Forum and the European Commission.
Stefan Wolff, University of Nottingham;
Dr. Brandon Hamber, INCORE,
University of Ulster;
Mr. Edgardo Pedro Legaspi, ASEAN Program,
Southeast Asian Committee for Advocacy;
Dr. Mary Martin, Centre for the
Study of Global Governance’s Group on Human Security, and
Davies, Former Chief of Staff of the Aceh Monitoring Mission.
Nobel Laureate John Hume welcomed the participants and local partners
with an address at the University of Ulster, Magee Campus on 10 June
2009, where he was joined by the Ambassador of Korea to Ireland, HE
Taeyong CHO, who gave the keynote address.
were also given the opportunity to interact with local communities in
both Letterkenny and Derry. In Derry the participants met over an
informal dinner with local community workers whose
institutions and networks focus on peace and reconciliation work
and facilitating a non-violent resolution of the conflict on the island of Ireland.
McGuiness, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and Mary Coughlan,
TD, An Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland) & Minister for
Enterprise, Trade & Employment hosted a special session in Letterkenny for the
participants to meet with community groups involved in cross-border,
cross-community activities. They were joined by key
representatives including Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International
Fund for Ireland & Paul Hannigan, President of LYIT.
Dr Thomas P. Hardiman, ASEF Governor for Ireland, joined the closing
session of the AER and focussed on the strong contribution of Ireland
to the work of the Asia-Europe Foundation, and in particular welcomed
the initiative to bring the event to Ireland. He hoped that the links
developed by the University of Ulster, Letterkenny Institute of
Technology and others in Ireland would be maintained in the future.
meeting produced a set of policy recommendations on minority conflict
management to political decision makers in Asia and Europe and
identified issues and case studies that could be effectively addressed
within the ASEM framework through co-operation among key
stakeholders in Asia and Europe.
Photographs and images used are obtained from publicly-accessible resources. No copyright infringement is intended.