Can regional organisations socialise states? Comparing human rights diffusion in ASEAN and SADC

Yejoo, Kim (2011-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The deteriorating human rights situations in Myanmar and Zimbabwe have drawn concerns from the international community. Mainly Western states and NGOs have criticised both governments and urged strong action from the regional organisations, namely ASEAN and SADC. However, because of the deeply rooted non-intervention norm in these regions, Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, the human rights situation in both states long remained serious. Recently however, ASEAN has taken up a strong stance towards Myanmar. On the contrary, SADC has showed reluctance to respond to the human rights violations in Zimbabwe. The question arises why these two regional organisations have showed different responses? In other words, the ASEAN member states have become relaxed and accepted the new human rights norm, discarding the traditional non-intervention norm, while the SADC member states still stick to the norm of non-intervention. In order to find answers, the focus in this thesis is on the process of socialisation which means that the actors adopt new norms which are also accepted by society as a whole. Three mechanisms which lead to socialisation, namely strategic calculation, role-playing and normative suasion, are discussed. The conclusion reached is that regional organisation can play a role in inducing the member states to accept the new norm, in the process the regional organisation is also socialised through interaction with other international organisations and actors. Here, historical background, and particularly the process of gaining independence in SADC heavily influenced the socialisation process in this region. SADC member states‘ liberation struggle against colonialism and apartheid led to the formation of strong bonds among member states that has made it difficult for respective state leaders to criticise each other. Such strong bonds do not exist in Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asia, member states interact actively with external actors such as the EU and NGOs. Thus they become receptive to human rights norms; in turn, the regional organisation itself has been socialised and has become relaxed enough to discard the non-intervention norm. Also an increasingly large middle class has become interested in the human rights situation in its neighbouring countries. These are the factors which have led to the differing responses from ASEAN and SADC to human rights abuses in their regions.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nadat hulle onafhanklikheid gekry het, het die menseregte situasie in Myanmar en Zimbabwe agteruitgegaan. Die internasionale gemeenskap, meestal Westerse state en nie-regerings organisasies het albei regerings gekritiseer en die streeksorganisasies, naamlik ASEAN en SADC, dringend versoek om streng op te tree. Weens die diep-gewortelde nie-intervensie norm in beide Suidoos-Asië en Suider-Afrika het die menseregte situasie egter lank ernstig gebly. ASEAN het egter meer onlangs sterk standpunt ingeneem teenoor Myanmar. Maar SADC is nog steeds onwillig om te reageer op die menseregte vergrype in Zimbabwe. Die vraag is nou waarom hierdie twee streeksorganisasies so verskillend opgetree het. Die lidstate van ASEAN het ontspanne geraak en die nuwe menseregte norme aanvaar en die tradisionele nie-intervensie norm laat vaar, terwyl SADC lidstate nog hou by die nie-intervensie norm . In die soek na antwoorde, is die fokus van hierdie tesis op die proses van sosialisering wat beteken dat die akteurs nuwe norme wat deur die internasionale gemeenskap as geheel aanvaar word, aanneem. Die drie meganismes wat lei tot sosialisering, naamlik strategiese berekening, rol-speling en normatiewe oorreding, word bespreek. Die slotsom waartoe gekom word is dat streeksorganisasies ‘n rol kan speel in die oorreding van lidstate om die nuwe norm te aanvaar en dat die streeksorganisasies in die proses deur interaksie met ander internasionale organisasies en akteurs, self gesosialiseer word. Historiese agtergrond en veral die proses waardeur onafhanklikheid in die lande van Suider-Afrika verkry is, het die sosialisasie proses in die area beïnvloed. SADC lidstate se vryheidstryd teen kolonialisme en apartheid het sterk bande tussen lidstate gesmee en dit moeilik gemaak vir die leiers van die state om mekaar te kritiseer. Daar bestaan nie sulke sterk bande in Suidoos-Asië nie. Verder is daar in Suidoos-Asië aktiewe interaksie met ander organisasies soos die Europese Unie en met nie-regerings organisasies. Dus is hulle meer ontvanklik vir menseregte norms. Op hulle beurt is die streeksorganisasies ook gesosialiseer en het hulle ontspanne genoeg geraak om af te sien van die nie-intervensie norm. Die groeiende middelklas het ook geïnteresseerd geraak in die menseregte situasie in hulle eie en in die buurlande. Dit is die faktore wat gelei het tot die verskillende reaksies van ASEAN en SADC tot die menseregte vergrype in hulle onderskeie streke.

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