South-East Asia

South-East Asia’s tremendous economic, social and political changes have often been accompanied by protracted and violent conflicts. Systemic, iterative and elicitive approaches to conflict transformation sit well with the distinct regional cultures and traditions of South-East Asia. The concept of “insider-mediation” offers a particularly promising approach. It supports bridge-builders, embedded in the social and cultural contexts of their societies, who enjoy widespread recognition. By supporting insider peacebuilders and indigenous peace infrastructures, we focus on strengthening local capacity and agency.

Current Projects

  • Thailand: Insider Peacebuilders’ Platform
    The Platform of Insider Peacebuilders (IPP) brings together Thai-Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Malay-Muslims and people with different political convictions who share a common interest in the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Deep South of Thailand, in the region of Pat(t)ani. more >

  • Thailand: People’s College
    A group of young Malay-Muslim peace activists wanted to improve their knowledge and skills in the field of conflict management. They were interested in improving general awareness of peace and social transformation in the wider community of the Deep South, as well as their own understanding of the issue. more >

Further Activities

The South-East Asia Programme started outside of the region, in Sri Lanka in Southern Asia, a country whose history is closely connected with Thailand and Myanmar. All three are majority Theravada-Buddhist countries. The insights from the failed peace process in Sri Lanka between 2001 and 2006 and our support efforts within the framework of the Resource Network for Conflict Studies and Transformation in Colombo inspired two conclusions: First, they triggered a systemic, non-linear understanding of conflict transformation and secondly, they emphasised the importance of creating indigenous structures and capacities for peacebuilding.

In collaboration with various Asia-based partner organisations, we are currently pursuing a comparative action research project on the activities, approaches and strategies of Insider Peacebuilders and Mediators. It is based on the understanding that this group plays a particularly vital role in the settlement and transformation of violent political conflicts in light of the strong reservations against the involvement of outsiders in many Asian countries.

Finally, the Peace Resource Center for the Deep South of Thailand is a joint venture with the Prince of Songkla University in Pattani and several other academic, state-based and civil society organisations to provide state-of-the-art knowledge on effective peace processes.

Completed Projects

  • Sri Lanka: Resource Network for Conflict Studies more >
  • India & Europe: Cultures of Governance and Conflict Resolution more >

From Other Programmes

  • Governance and Insider Peacebuilders more >
  • Afghanistan: Patronage and Corruption more >

Selected Publications

  • Norbert Ropers: Insider Mediation as a Tool of Collaborative Security. Trends, Discourses and Insights from Asia. 2012. In: International Studies, 49 (3 & 4), 1-17.
  • Norbert Ropers: Systemic Conflict Transformation. Reflections of the Conflict and Peace Process in Sri Lanka. 2008. Handbook Dialogue Series No. 6 - lead article. PDF >
  • Daniela Körppen, Norbert Ropers & Hans J. Giessmann (Eds.): The Non-linearity of Peace Processes. Theory and Practice of Systemic Conflict Transformation. 2011. Opladen & Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich Publishers. Book >