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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Debates and articles from across the openDemocracy website that discuss or are relevant to Asia and the Pacific.

Thailand, the politics of justice

The contrasting treatment of those accused of verbal insults of the monarch and those responsible for violent repression casts a sorry verdict on the process of justice in Thailand, says Tyrell Haberkorn in Bangkok.

Globe-trotting universities serve diplomacy and markets, not democracy

American liberal arts colleges are embracing collaborations with authoritarian regimes worldwide, with implications for US foreign policy. Following up his op-ed in the New York Times on Sunday, Jim Sleeper reports on the issue in greater depth in this openDemocracy essay. 

North Korea, the cost of paralysis

A new study of the inner workings of North Korea's regime is an important account of its dark political genius. But big states in the international system share the blame for its success, says Kerry Brown.

Kyrgyzstan, violence vs justice

The chaotic scenes at the trial of a man charged over inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan are damaging the legal process, reports Mihra Rittmann.

Malaysia after the Election: a paradigm shift?

With a victory of the ruling Barisan Nasional, it was tempting to write off the results of this Sunday's election as another missed opportunity to reform Malaysia's chronic status quo. Yet, the patterns of change are already there: one only needs to recognize them.

Rebuilding Japanese democracy after the triple disasters

Two years after the tsunami that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear meltdown, it is intriguing to observe how the 'triple disasters' might also have reinvigorated civic participation and activism in an otherwise politically apathetic society. What does this mean for the future of Japanese democracy?

North Korea: an opportunity lost is an opportunity gained

The recurring three-part drama, Unsuccessful Diplomacy-North Korean Belligerence-United Nations Sanctions, is airing on our screens once again. How do we we break the cycle - and finally get North Korea to change its behaviour?

Global mechanism, regional solution: ending forced sterilisation

For the first time in south-east Asia, an HIV-positive women's group in Indonesia is using the CEDAW Shadow Report to challenge the forced sterilisation and violence against positive women

India Burning

When the rice harvest season finishes in a few weeks, fields in India will turn black as farmers burn thousands of acres. This practice shows one of the failures of the Green Revolution, with devastating regional and global consequences. A food-security-obsessed India cannot ignore these issues for much longer.

The US 2012 Election and China: why a real dialogue about human rights will never happen

Despite a prominent presence in the campaign, US policy towards China is very unlikely to change - especially on the hyper-sensitive topic of human rights.

The American election: a view from Down Under

As a somewhat reluctant member of the American orbit in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia carefully watches the election – amused but slightly worried by its "cranks and crazies" (as the Australian treasurer recently called the Tea Party).

Sri Lanka, many shades of accountability

A long-awaited review on the conduct of United Nations agencies during the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka is still unpublished, and its terms of reference are shrouded in secrecy. There are further doubts over its authorship and process. All this raises questions over how seriously Ban Ki-moon and his colleagues take the issue, says a Sri Lankan observer who writes under the pen-name Vidura.

China vs India: a democracy battle

The last war between Asia's giants erupted in October 1962. Fifty years on the respective works of a Chinese and an Indian intellectual define the shape of their 21st-century contest, says William A Callahan.

Norodom Sihanouk, a Cambodian life

The man who was variously Cambodia's anti-colonial leader, king, prime minister, prince, and exiled figurehead is inseparable from his country's modern history, says David Chandler.

Stateless in Burma: Rohingya word wars

In order to understand how the ‘Rohingya crisis’ has come to pass we need to consider the narrative built by three groupings of international actors - the Burmese government, host countries for Rohingya who have fled and the international community at large.

North Korea: change of signs

Pyongyang looks and feels different under Kim Jong Un's leadership, but how much do new buildings, markets and facades reveal about the direction of policy? Charles K Armstrong, who recently visited North Korea, reflects.

China, the view from the ground

The self-organising efforts of migrant workers and rights activists across China offer a vital insight into the nature and future of modern Chinese society, says Hsiao-Hung Pai.

China and Japan: a conflict of logics

The territorial dispute between regional powers has the potential to escalate. All the more reason for the Chinese elite to lead rather than follow public opinion, says Kerry Brown.

Nepal, a constitutional impasse

Nepal is still awaiting a new constitution to complete its transition from a decade of conflict to democracy. So far, political leaders' control of the drafting process has handicapped progress. But the four-year debate has also created a foundation on which to build, says Leena Rikkila Tamang.

China: Xi Jinping's new generation

The imminent transition of power in Beijing will see a new ruling group arrive in power. But does its background and formation prepare it for the scale of China's political and economic challenge, asks Li Datong.

Kashgar's old city: the endgame

China's plan to transform the heart of Uyghur culture, learning and urban settlement - Kashgar old city - is well underway. The fact that the Uyghurs themselves have no voice in this process gives the experience a wider significance, says Henryk Szadziewski.

China's party, Bo Xilai's legacy

The efforts of China's ruling elite to cope with the scandal that consumed a leading comrade mark a political watershed for the country, say Kerry Brown & David Goodman.

Doubting North Korea’s ‘collapsists’

Commentators on North Korea have predicted the immanent downfall of its dictatorial regieme since its inception, but even after the second transition of power to another member of the Kim family it is yet to show any signs of wavering. Perhaps it is time for the international community to consider a more long-term, inclusive foreign policy toward this isolated and secretive regime 

Burma: between elections and democracy

The by-election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in Burma (Myanmar) raises the question of whether the country is at last on an irreversible path towards democracy. A detailed analysis of the context suggests seven reasons for caution, says Joakim Kreutz.

Trial by media: Bangladesh's 'International' Crimes Tribunal

Phone tapping, court orders and vitriolic condemnations of the accused point to a disconcerting unity between the regime, the press and the ICT

Japan, the earthquake and the media

The worst disaster in Japan since the second world war hit the country's north-east coastal region on 11 March 2011. The combination of tsunami and nuclear crisis presented the media with great practical problems and ethical concerns. Wataru Sawamura, an experienced journalist with the leading newspaper the Asahi Shimbun, reflects on how he and his colleagues sought to fulfil their professional responsibilities as the tragedy unfolded.

China's elite: a language deficit

Beijing is concerned by Washington's more assertive regional policy in Asia. But here as elsewhere the Chinese leadership's inability to talk to the rest of the world in a natural way blunts its capacity to respond, says Kerry Brown.

Taiwan's election, and the need for nuance

Taiwan's presidential election saw the incumbent Ma Ying-jeou win another four-year term in office over his opponent Tsai Ing-wen. But the interpretation of this outcome by Washington and Beijing misses an important dimension of Taiwan's political reality. Their flawed understanding could have damaging consequences over the next four years, say LC Russell Hsiao & Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao.

North Korea, the arts of succession

The aftermath of the death of Kim Jong-Il highlights the obstacles in the way of a clear assessment of North Korea's power dynamics, says JE Hoare.

2012, an era of uncertainty

The tsunami and nuclear accident made 2011 an especially hard year for Japan. But the questions raised by the experience are similar to those being asked across the world, says Takashi Inoguchi.

Kim Jong-Il: leadership and legacy

North Korea's leader of almost two decades has died. What happens next will determine Kim Jong-Il's place in the country's history, says Charles K Armstrong.

Pakistan: next in line?

After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has now turned its belligerent attention towards Pakistan. But opening up a new battlefront, this time in Pakistan, in the run-up to the presidential elections, will prove another quagmire for the Obama administration.

Bangladesh: A road map for political disaster

Far from being reconciliatory, the government's International War Crimes Tribunal is tantamount to a witch hunt of the opposition.

Nepal: wrong trail, right track

The return to democracy in Nepal after the decade-long civil war has been bumpy. The question of amnesty for crimes committed during the war now faces the new Maoist-led government with a key choice, says Meenakshi Ganguly.

Indonesia: pluralism vs vigilantism

A pattern of violence against the Ahmadiyah religious community, in which the perpetrators enjoy near-impunity and official indulgence, is disfiguring Indonesia. It also presents a wider challenge to the country’s vital search for a model of religious tolerance in public life, says Charles Reading.
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