Reinventing Justice, Security and Democracy

Nepal has not only been going through remarkable political and social changes, but also recovering slowly after hardest hit by a massive earthquake in April 2015.

Sept. 26, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 09, No. -7, September 25 2015 (Ashoj 8, 2072)

The Asia-Pacific has undergone critical economic and political changes over the past two decades. The end of the Cold War promised the lessening of regional antagonism, economic prosperity and democratic progress. Nevertheless, the region continues facing challenges caused by border disputes, outbreak of ethnic and sectarian armed conflicts, return to authoritarianism, gross human rights violation, inter-state competitions in armament, income disparity, food insecurity, gender inequality and insensitivity, natural disasters and transnational migration.

These challenges have urged the people and governments in Asia-Pacific to seek sustainable solutions through cooperation and discussion regarding an alternative polity. This is a political project where communities and polities in Asia-Pacific endeavour to ‘reinvent’ themselves, so democracy can find its way even in the most disturbed environments. To support in this regional endeavour, the existence of a strong network of scholars is must. Academicians and scholars play very significant role in identifying sustainable solutions for regional challenges and possibilities through discussions and debates. Even the policymakers, governments and transnational institutions usually rely on academic researches and scholars in order to receive information which guides their decisions or helps them to understand any social phenomenon. Without doubt, we believe that knowledge gained from the discourse, debate and contestations among the local or regional expertise is very crucial for a way out in many strategic and tactical situations.

At one side, Asia-Pacific region has been successfully attracting attention of major global players in last two decades as it has supposed to become next centre of intellectuality, prosperity and influential decision maker for world affairs. At the same time, number of contextual issues from this region is threatening global peace, stability and security. This region is most diverse in comparison to other parts of the world. Asia-Pacific region lacks the presence of strong and united regional body unlikely to the Europe, Africa and Americas. It is enjoying several sub-regional bodies such as SAARC and ASEAN. Even though there is no possibility of the emergence of such political association in immediate time period. That is making it’s very difficult for the discussion, contemplation and sharing of understanding of various crucial social phenomenon, possible alternatives for the solutions and contribution to academia and theory-building process from this region. International Peace Research Association (IPRA) felt the need of a network of scholars and academicians to be engaged in the area of the peace, justice, security and democracy. On December 5, 1980, Asia-Pacific Peace Research Association (APPRA) was founded as a regional affiliate of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) by participants in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. IPRA is a scientific association of researchers, academicians and peace scholars. This regional body of international association has been hosting various successful academic conferences in pursuit of world peace and security and particularly focusing on this vibrant Asia-Pacific region.

Asia-Pacific region has the history of few much remarkable and successful international conferences which have significant contribution in regional integrity, stability and security. For instance, APPRA successfully organized an academic conference in February 1991 at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand on the theme of Peace and Security in the Pacific Region: Post Cold War Problems and Prospects. The proceedings of the conference were published by the United Nations University Press and some papers were published in a special issue of Peace Review journal. Similarly, The 1994 APPRA Conference was organized at University Sains Malaysia on Conflict Resolution in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Problem Solving and Peacemaking which was  collaborated with the Asia Foundation and selected papers were published in Pacifica, Volume 6. Another remarkable regional conference was held in Philippines in 2001 with the theme of Reconstructing Peace Theories and Practices in Asia and the Pacific. The focus of the 2003 APPRA conference was on Visioning Alternatives to Violence; Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific Region. The 2011 APPRA conference was also considered remarkable because it was held in Japan as very crucial time when the country was struggling to recover from crisis at the nuclear power plant and natural disaster. That conference reaffirmed obligations of the scholars towards regional security and peace by discussing on the theme of New Agenda for Peace Research in the Asia-Pacific at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. Another recent successful conference was held in Bangkok in 2013 which was jointly organized with Thammasat University of Thaialnd. Most of the discussions at that conference focused on Engaging Deadly Conflicts in Asia-Pacific with Nonviolent Alternatives.Following its successes and remarkable international recognition that it gained in its contribution to inspire global peace and security, the APPRA recognises its obligation and responsibility at this important point of time.  The APPRA is going to host its 2015 Conference in Nepal to focus on generating research interest and discourse on how to reinvent security, justice and democracy in Asia-Pacific.

Nepal has not only been going through remarkable political and social changes, but also recovering slowly after hardest hit by a massive earthquake in April 2015. The country is trying to institutionalize changes by finding a way out of the decade long transition period and at the same time trying to address the effects that April quake has brought. Recently, this regional conference not will be focusing on Asia-Pacific regional discourses and knowledge but also will play very important role in giving message to the world about Nepal at this crucial juncture. More than 200 scholars, researchers and academicians from around 40 countries will be joining this Asia-Pacific academic platform from 8-11 October in Kathmandu of this year. It is within this premise the 2015 APPRA Conference is themed on “Pathways towards Just Peace: Reinventing security, Justice and Democracy in Asia-Pacific”. Two government entities of Nepal, namely Nepal Tourism Board and Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, and two departments of Tribhuvan University, Conflict, Peace and Development Studies, and International Relation and Diplomacy, are playing very supportive role to make this regional initiative successful and spelling out “Message of Peace & Democracy” from this country to entire region and ultimately to the international community.

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Rajib Timalsina

Rajib Timalsina

Timalsina is Convener

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