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Panel Discussion “Refugees and Displaced Persons in Southeast Asia: Security over Protection?”

11 May, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

On 11th of May we will focus on displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees in Southeast Asia as part of the “Displaced and Uprooted” Series, which SEA Junction organizes in collaboration with the TIFA Foundation. More particularly, the workshop and related panel discussion will explore the bias towards securitization in the regional response to forced migrant flows and its implications for the rights and wellbeing of asylum-seekers, refugees and displaced persons. The workshop is designed for the students of the Global Health Program of Thammasat University and other interested students, while the panel is open to the public.


Ten years ago, Antonio Guterres – at the time High Commissioner for Refugees and currently UN Secretary General – remarked that the 21st century would be “the century of people on the move.” In discussing the nuances of this global phenomenon, Guterres warned that new and more complex patterns of displacement and migration were emerging as a result of the intersections of climate change and environmental degradation, armed conflicts and violence, and growing inequalities created by globalization processes.

Ostensibly, during the last ten years the global movement of people has become one of the most controversial and often divisive issues of our time and what Guterres warned about appears to have come true. UNHCR data for 2016 showed that 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide– a total bigger than the population of the United Kingdom and about 300,000 more than the previous year. All regions of the world are being affected.  UNHCR’s 2015 data showed that Southeast Asia was home to more than 500,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, and many more are flying the region, with the Rohingya population from Myanmar in camps in Bangladesh estimated at more than a million.

Although the Rohingya exodus has become the focus of international attention, there are many internal displaced people as well as asylum seekers in Southeast Asia who come from beyond the region itself, for example from Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Syria, Somalia and the Balkans.

In Southeast Asia, like in other parts of the world, politicians and sectors of the media have conflated the issues of documented and undocumented migrants, displaced persons and refugees by constructing these different groups of people as existential threats to state sovereignty and security, national cultural identity, and economic stability. Activists and scholars have warned that the securitization of displaced people and refugees transfers directly into how they are treated, particularly from a security/policing perspective. Increasing acts of xenophobia and violence against migrants, displaced persons and refugees are being reported and documented around the world, including Southeast Asia. Critics of the securitization perspective points also to the destabilizing effect on host communities as securitization often polarizes public opinion making dialogue and problem-solving almost impossible, thus contributing to the problems that ostensibly it aims to prevent such as loss of social cohesion

What risks are emerging from the securitization of displaced people and refugees, especially in Southeast Asia? What are the relevant current frameworks and policies in Southeast Asia to respond to the crisis of displaced and refugee people? How are these frameworks and policies contributing to mitigate the risks of securitization?

The planned 1-day workshop and related panel discussion aim to explore these questions to make a critical contribution toward responses that are grounded in the respect of human dignity. The workshop is designed for the students of the Global Health Program of Thammasat University and other interested students, while the panel is open to the public. The detailed program is as follows:

Tentative Program

Workshop 11 May, 10 AM – 4PM (NB: Open to students only, registration required)

10 AM-12PM Securitization theory and process: an overview and relevance to the situation in Southeast Asia Fabio Saini

Lecturer Global Health, Thammasat University

12 PM-1 PM Lunch break  
1PM- 3 PM Refugees in ASEAN: Frameworks and current responses Rafendi Djamin

Senior Advisor Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)/AICHR Representative for Indonesia 2009-2015


3 PM -4 PM Students’ reflections and discussion Rosalia Sciortino

Associate Professor, Institute for Population and Social Research Mahidol University


Panel Discussion:  5.30 PM – 7 PM


Rosalia Sciortino, Introduction to the panel
Director SEA Junction & Assoc. Professor, IPSR, Mahidol University


Rafendi Djamin “ASEAN Refugee Policies: Security over Protection?”
Senior Advisor Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)/AICHR Representative for Indonesia 2009-2015

Jerrold W. Huguet “Health and Forced Migration in SEA”
Independent expert and Emeritus Chief of the Population and Development Section of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in Bangkok.

(Representative of relief organizations) TBC: “Humanitarian Response to the Refugee Crisis”

Photo by Mahmud Rahman (Rohingya refugee in Cox’s Bazaar)

For information/reservation for our events please email southeastasiajunction@gmail.com or phone/wa: +66970024140

NB: Events are free, but donation most welcome!


SEA Junction, OUR Venue on Southeast Asia 

SEA Junction aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions –from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium) SEA junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org and join the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693055870976440/

TIFA Foundation

TIFA Foundation is a grant making institution working for human rights and democracy in Indonesia and supporting civil society to work in key fields like access to information, community and independent media, legal aid, anti-corruption, and minority rights. In recognition of the importance of placing Indonesia within the broader regional context, since 2016 Tifa Foundation has started the Regional Hub program cooperating with the New Mandala and now with SEA Junction. For more information see http://www.tifafoundation.org/en/ (in Indonesian).

Global Health Program, Thammasat Faculty of Public Health (MPH-GH)

MPH-GH is a graduate program that defines global health from a socio-political perspective with an emphasis on inter-regional capacity building applying a South-to-South focus (Africa, Asia-Pacific and Middle East). For more information see http://www.fph.tu.ac.th/eng/index.php?id=45&i=11&11-overview=


11 May, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


SEA Junction, Room 408, BACC
939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330 Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand
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