Selected developments in human rights and democratisation during 2018: Could it have been worse? Mixed messages around democracy and human rights in the Asia Pacific

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Vyas, Ravi Prakash
Hayes, Mike
Kurniawan, Nanang Indra
Bayo, Longgina Novadona
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Global Campus of Human Rights
During 2018 the downward slide in human rights and democracy across the Asia Pacific region was slowed down, but not reversed. Many of the concerns gripping the region, such as the treatment of the Rohingya by the Myanmar state, the violence of the Duterte regime in the Philippines, and China’s cavalier attitude towards rights, remained shocking but did not worsen. In a few areas human rights or democracy improved. One shining light is the Malaysian election where the heavily corrupt governing party, which had been in power since Malaysia’s independence, was voted out. Even though the party controlled the media, manipulated the electoral system, and used a campaign of misinformation during the election, Malaysians bravely voted for a more democratic future. Across the region concerns have been raised about China’s increasing economic, political and military influence, but at the same time others have praised the development it has enabled. Global trends, such as the #metoo movement, the global conference on climate change, and the Global Migration Compact have had an impact on the region, but not enough to declare the region to be positively embracing these developments. All these factors show that there is a mixed response to human rights and democracy: The existence of serious violations and disturbing trends means that the region remains in an epoch where authoritarianism holds sway. The actions of these governments are open to condemnation by civil society and the possibility of a change in opinion about these actions. However, there is little evidence that this will happen in the near future. Key words: human rights; democratisation; Asia Pacific; Rohingya; Duterte regime; human rights in China; authoritarianism
human rights, democratisation, Asia Pacific region, Rohingya, China, authoritarianism, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, democracy