The Second Annual Southeast Asia Security Sector Governance (SSG) Forum, which is part of the Initiative on Promoting Good Security Sector Governance in the Asia-Pacific Region, was held from 16 to 18 June 2021. With the support of partner institutions and SSG associates, the Forum brought together delegations from Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
During Day 1 each delegation provided an update about the SSG context in their countries, focussing on current SSG challenges and opportunities for Security Sector Reform (SSR).
On Day 2, the participants analysed the current challenges to democratic governance in Southeast Asia, based on an analysis of and reflections about the military coup in Myanmar. Input presentations showed that in Southeast Asia there is a worrisome trend of countries becoming flawed democracies or even authoritarian regimes, and they outlined possible strategies to reduce this risk. In break-out groups, the participants reflected on potential roles played by ASEAN and individual countries in the region in preventing further regression of democratic processes, as well as on possible safeguards against the sudden overturn of ongoing democratisation processes elsewhere in the region. Based on this analysis, the break-out groups defined the role of the SSG Network at different levels. While it would be highly challenging to have a direct and visible impact on such events as military coups, the network could play a significant role in raising awareness and providing guidance to ensure that necessary provisions are enshrined in each country’s legal framework to mitigate the risk of authoritarian take-overs. Some interventions at the ASEAN level could be considered, yet the participants agreed that this would not happen in the short term.
On the last day, the participants received updates about recent, ongoing and planned activities of the Network and discussed opportunities for the launch of new activities, at both national and sub-regional levels. Finally, the work of SSG National Working Groups, their membership and short- and long-term objectives were discussed.