The Other Asian Miracle? Explaining the Decline of Mass Atrocities in East Asia
Public Research Seminar hosted by the UQ School of Politics and International Studies
Presented by Professor Alex Bellamy, POLSIS/UQ and Centre Director, AP R2P
From the killing fields of Cambodia to the massacres that accompanied China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, East Asia’s recent past abounds with examples of genocide and mass atrocities against unarmed civilians. Indeed, for much of the Cold War, civilians in East Asia were arguably at greater risk of death by genocide or mass atrocities than civilians anywhere else in the world. Given this history, it is perhaps unsurprising that many commentators in the West view the economic, political and military rise of East Asia with considerable trepidation. Yet practice has a habit of defying expectations. East Asia has been transformed over the past few decades into a zone of relative peace and stability in which acts of genocide and mass atrocity have become quite rare. Whilst the region’s spectacular economic rise, responsible for lifting one billion people out of poverty has been well observed by outsiders, less well understood is the region’s equally dramatic turn away from mass violence against civilians. This presentation attempts to offer some preliminary explanations for this profound change. It argues that four factors in particular account for the region’s transformation towards peace: the accommodation of power and interests, the adoption of the “trading state” model, a multilateral approach to problem-solving and emerging social contracts between states and peoples. Together, these factors explain how the region has been able to manage security dilemmas between states and reshape the relationship between governments and societies within them to significantly reduce the incidence of genocide and mass atrocities. The presentation will conclude by considering how “sticky” this transformation will prove in the face of an array of new challenges.
Friday 31 July 1:00-3:00 PM
UQ School of Politics and International Studies
Room 537, Level 5, Building 39a (GPN3)
The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus
About the presenter
Alex Bellamy is Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at The University of Queensland, Australia. He is also Non-Resident Senior Adviser at the International Peace Institute, New York and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. In 2008-9 he served as co-chair of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Study Group on the Responsibility to Protect and he currently serves as Secretary of the High Level Advisory Panel on the Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia, chaired by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan.
Dr Bellamy is co-editor of the Global Responsibility to Protect journal. His recent books include Responsibility to Protect: A Defence (Oxford, 2014), Providing Peacekeepers (with Paul D. Williams) (Oxford, 2013) and Massacres and Morality (Oxford, 2012).
Image credit: Civil Party Chim Meth appearing before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on 9 July 2009. Courtesy of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia