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Distress Migration

The History of Humanitarian Action in East and Southeast Asia: Asian Perspectives

Author : Humanitarian Policy Group | 2016
Published By: Humanitarian Policy Group

ASEAN assumed different roles in responding to humanitarian crises in Cambodia (in the 1970s) and Myanmar (Cyclone Nargis in 2008). For the Cambodia situation, ASEAN was playing the role of ‘antagonist’ against the regime in Kampuchea/Cambodia at the time, keeping the issue on the UN agenda and, as highlighted by Benny Widyono, using the humanitarian situation as an instrument to politicise the issue. In responding to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar post-Cyclone Nargis, ASEAN took on a new role: that of facilitator, enabler and convenor (of different interest groups) around a shared objective. A relevant observation here is the impact of disasters as the ‘push factor’ to accomplish difficult goals or to get governments moving. With the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2008 Nargis, ASEAN managed to complete the drafting and adoption of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management (AADMER) after the tsunami, and to get the document ratified by the remaining signatories in 20091 after the Nargis disaster. ASEAN’s role in resolving the Cambodian conflict was more of a political nature. Still, ASEAN’s convening role in bringing different parties into a dialogue led to the creation of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1994.

URL : https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/events-documents/5026.pdf

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