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12th Talks On The Hill:

Co-Ordinating An Asia-Europe Response To Troubled States

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
04 Sep 08 - 07 Sep 08 ASEF Political and Economic Department Talks on the Hill Governance & Human Rights



Venue:
Singapore

OVERVIEW

Asia and Europe have on occasion taken divergent approaches towards governments that have been labelled uncooperative or "recalcitrant" by the international community. These troubled states are often characterised by authoritarian leaderships, with a record of human rights violations, ethnic or religious conflict, or potentially threatening nuclear intentions.

This Asia-Europe divide is most evident in the question of whether, when, and how to intervene in internal conflicts. While the EU as a regional bloc has expressed its belief in humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect, most Asian countries are averse to interventionist policies and defend the ideas of absolute sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Another facet of the divide can be drawn along political objectives: while the EU continues to push for regime change in what it perceives as undemocratic states, many Asian countries prefer the more growth-friendly option of maintaining regime stability for economic growth. To effectively manage internal conflicts in developing countries that threaten international security or cooperation, Asia and Europe need to arrive at a coordinated strategy that acknowledges the interests of the key countries involved.

THE ISSUES

The 12th Talks on the Hill event examined the range of diplomatic tools that are used to influence the behaviour and policies of international governments, including political dialogue, sanctions, incentives, and development assistance, usually implemented together or in combination as an overall strategy. Participants analysed the regional approaches and diplomatic tools that were used in conflict resolution within troubled states, examined their national and regional approaches and the underlying rationales and interests, and debated possible scenarios to reach international consensus for the way forward. They addressed the questions of how and where the two regions can find common ground, and what this might look like, as well as the matter of how realistic the principles of interventionism and non-interventionism are, when tested by implementation and long-term sustainability. This involved questions of which tools are effective, when, and how they interact with the interests of international actors.