A major conference about the history of humanitarianism in East and Southeast Asia will take place at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies on 29-30 January 2013. It will bring together diplomats, ministers, senior figures from the humanitarian sector and academics to explore a range of historical aspects of Asian humanitarianism.
The conference forms part of long-term research work undertaken by the Humanitarian Policy Group’s ‘Global History of Modern Humanitarian Action.’ This project was established to identify and explore the principal changes in policy and practice that the humanitarian sector has undergone since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Critical to the project is the recognition that the humanitarian sector’s Western-oriented narrative provides little understanding of the diverse histories and perspectives of humanitarian action across the globe. The Global History of Modern Humanitarian Action therefore seeks to redress this imbalance with the ‘Asian Perspectives’ conference which will be followed by publications and further regional studies including one focusing on the Middle East/North Africa.
Co-organised by the Humanitarian Policy Group and ISEAS, the conference will explore the key events creating humanitarian need across East and Southeast Asia, the kind of responses and actors involved and how these have evolved. It will also offer analyses of the evolution of humanitarianism in specific countries, including China and Myanmar, crises resulting from the mass atrocities of Cambodia, the North Korean famine, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – and local and international humanitarian responses to them.
Singapore’s Acting Minister for Manpower and Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Chuan Jin, will deliver the keynote Address for the conference.