Skip NavigationMenu

Subnational Conflict


Addressing Conflict & Fragility in Asia

March 4, 2020


Violent conflict remains a critical ongoing concern that affects people across Asia as wars and insurgencies persist and new risks emerge. The Asia Foundation is addressing the root causes of violence through locally grounded and context-driven efforts to improve governance, targeted support for peacebuilding, conflict prevention initiatives, and c… Read more


Seven Takeaways on Asian Approaches to Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

June 20, 2018

Blog Post

Despite rapid economic growth, conflict has persisted in many parts of Asia. Peacebuilding efforts have often focused on the role that Western nations or multilateral bodies can play in supporting statebuilding to build peace. South-South cooperation emphasizes supporting peacebuilding efforts in partner countries by drawing on a country’s own relevant experience.


Breaking the Deadlocks to Peace in Southern Thailand

January 11, 2017

Blog Post

On August 12-14, 2016, as Thais were celebrating the long holiday marking the Queen’s birthday, a series of 13 coordinated explosions rocked several provinces in Thailand’s Upper South, including popular tourist spots in Hua Hin, leaving four people dead and 30 wounded, including 10 foreigners. Forensic evidence points to the opposition group known… Read more


Is It Time for a Peacekeeping Force for ASEAN?

February 3, 2016

Blog Post

This decade marks a radical shift in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states’ attitudes toward its role in the region. The idea of an ASEAN regional peacekeeping cooperation was first raised in 1994, but never gained traction among member states.


Perilous Progress in Nepal

February 3, 2016

Blog Post

Following seven years of fitful birthing Nepal’s new constitution was promulgated in September 2015, and instantly became the epicentre of ongoing political turmoil that threatens to undermine progress on many fronts in the country. The culmination of a protracted political transition since the comprehensive peace accord of 2006, the new constitution attempts…


Report from Sri Lanka: Parliamentary Elections

August 26, 2015

Blog Post

After a hotly contested campaign, Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka concluded peacefully last week in a vote hailed by local and international observers as one of the most free, fair, and peaceful in Sri Lanka’s recent history. The 70 percent turnout fell short of last January’s 82 percent, possibly due to the monsoon rain that arrived two hours before polls closed on Monday, August 17.


Infographics Aside, Are Fragility Indices Useful?

August 12, 2015

Blog Post

Devising quantitative measures of state weakness is big business in the development industry. As awareness of the importance of institutions to growth and peace has spread, development practitioners and policymakers have been served an ever-expanding smorgasbord of state fragility indices (see here, here, and here). Countries receive a numerical score based on a range of indicators deemed to capture the ability of states to serve their people.


Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations: Why They Matter, How Aid Can Help

July 29, 2015

Blog Post

Where governments do not function well, growth and sustainable development are rare, and destructive, violent conflicts are more likely. Working in such fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCASs) – common across Asia and the Pacific – requires development agencies, including ADB, to do business differently.


Since the Bombs… My Life Has Changed

June 24, 2015

Blog Post

For the last 11 years, Thailand’s southern border provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani and neighboring districts of Songkhla – the Deep South – have been torn by a subnational conflict in which bomb attacks, assassinations, and other acts of violence have claimed over 6,400 lives and injured more than 11,500 people.


Doing Development Differently: Report from Manila

April 29, 2015

Blog Post

On Monday and Tuesday in Manila, The Asia Foundation, along with Harvard University and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and with media partner DevEx to get the message out, hosted the second Doing Development Differently forum (DDD).


Registration Symbolizes First Step in Integrating MILF in Philippines Electoral Process

March 11, 2015

Blog Post

It was an admirable effort. On March 7, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), understaffed with just four commissioners left after the retirement of Chairman Sixto Brillantes, held a symbolic special satellite voter registration of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and their families….


Reversing the Legacy of Injustice in Thailand’s Conflict-Ravaged South

January 21, 2015

Blog Post

In the book, Voices of Hope: Stories of Women in Peace Process, Kamnung Chamnankij, whose husband and son had been charged in 2007 with the possession of chemicals associated with explosive devices and were subsequently arrested, recalled: “I had to sell my house, my only two cows, my husband’s fishing boat…


In Indonesia, Database Tracking Violence Provides Insights on Preventing Conflict

January 14, 2015

Blog Post

From 1999 to 2008, subnational conflicts (SNCs) killed at least 100,000 people in Asia with half of the countries in South and Southeast Asia affected. Asian SNCs last on average twice as long as the global average and typically reignite after periods of calm.


Using Evidence to Improve Development Assistance

December 10, 2014

Blog Post

Development assistance is founded on countless theories about how foreign taxpayers’ money can be harnessed to instigate and catalyze economic and social development and provide humanitarian benefits abroad. Basic arguments for how positive change can be achieved…


Modern Conflict is Not What You Think

December 10, 2014

Blog Post

Research has transformed medicine, agriculture, and sanitation, and has helped lift many millions out of poverty. Most of the extremely poor people in the world now live in states suffering from conflict. Scholars have studied wars for millennia, but are usually concentrated on how to win them.


Academics, Practitioners, and Donors: Whose Evidence Counts and For What?

December 10, 2014

Blog Post

There is a difficult tension in the evidence-seeking agenda: on the one hand, donors seek short-term, project-related outcomes to support claims about their impact on a grand scale in a society; on the other hand, society-level impact does not seem measurable…


Discussion Series Examines Myanmar’s Path to Decentralization

October 29, 2014

Blog Post

Since Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein took office in April 2011, the country has embarked on a dramatic set of reforms that have shifted the nation from one of the world’s most repressive regimes to this year’s Chair of ASEAN…


Polling Shows Encouraging Climate of Opinion for Mindanao Peace Negotiations

October 8, 2014

Blog Post

On September 10, Philippine President Benigno Aquino personally turned over the draft Basic Law based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro to Congress after months of revisions and refinement. The move continues the roadmap set forth in negotiations…


The Asia Foundation’s Patrick Barron Participates in Tony Blair Foundation Discussion

Singapore, September 12, 2014

News Post

The Asia Foundation’s Regional Director for Conflict and Development Programming Patrick Barron participated in a closed roundtable discussion on “Religious Extremism in Southeast Asia: Practical Policy Responses.” The discussion, hosted by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on behalf of his foundation, The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, broug… Read more


Subnational Conflict: New Approaches Needed

August 13, 2014

Blog Post

In last week’s In Asia, I examined how the rise of Asia in recent decades has been accompanied by a growth in deadly subnational conflicts (SNCs). These conflicts are occurring across the continent, including in middle-income and otherwise stable states. Democratization has not been a cure. Asia’s subnational conflicts last twice as long as those elsewhere in the world.


Subnational Conflict: The Dark Underbelly of a Rising Asia

August 6, 2014

Blog Post

Asia’s rise has been momentous. Since the early 1960s, Asia has grown richer faster than any other region in the world. In 1990, 56 percent of people in East Asia and 54 percent in South Asia lived on under $1.25 a day (PPP). By 2010, these rates had fallen to 12 percent and 31 percent…


Access to Justice Constraints Fuel Conflict in Southern Thailand

April 23, 2014

Blog Post

Access to justice, security, and human rights protection rank among the core issues that fuel the protracted subnational conflict in southern Thailand and are central to the prospect of its future resolution. For the last decade, the southern border provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani have faced a resurgence of an indigenous…


World Politics Review Interviews Asia Foundation’s Steven Rood on Mindanao Power-Sharing Agreement

January 2, 2014

Media Coverage Post

World Politics Review features an interview with Asia Foundation country representative for the Philippines Steven Rood on the power-sharing agreement between the Philippine government and Muslim separatists. Read the full article here: “Global Insider: Southern Philippines Stands to See Peace Dividend.”


The Boundaries of Evidence in Conflict Management and Peacebuilding

December 11, 2013

Blog Post

In The Asia Foundation’s recent report, “Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance,” the authors argue that a sustainable solution to the many subnational conflicts plaguing different countries…


Photo Blog: Zamboanga City Begins Recovery Through Inter-Faith Efforts

October 16, 2013

Blog Post

October 15 was a national holiday in the Philippines to celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Muslim festival of the sacrifice. The day was also tragically marked by an earthquake in central Philippines, one consequence of which was considerable damage to historic churches…


Zamboanga Tragedy: A Pivot Point in the Mindanao Peace Process

October 9, 2013

Blog Post

Zamboanga City’s hard road to recovery from weeks of urban fighting between Muslim rebels and government troops has been delayed by heavy rains that shut down the city yesterday, cancelling flights and closing schools. However long the recovery takes, and whatever shape it assumes…


The Contested Corners of Asia: Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance

October 7, 2013


Subnational conflict is the most widespread, enduring, and deadly form of conflict in Asia. Over the past 20 years (1992-2012), there have been 26 subnational conflicts in South and Southeast Asia, affecting half of the countries in this region. Concerned about foreign interference, national governments limit external access to conflict areas by jo… Read more


In Myanmar, an Evolving Discourse on Decentralization

October 2, 2013

Blog Post

With a much-heralded democratic transition underway in Myanmar, the future holds the potential for impressive gains but also significant challenges. Among the latter, decentralization and state-local relations as mandated by the 2008 constitution are emerging as a critical issue…


The Psychological Cost of Sri Lanka’s Civil War

September 18, 2013

Blog Post

On September 21, residents of Sri Lanka’s war-torn Northern Province will vote in the first provincial council elections of the region. The event is significant for the former conflict zone – the hardest-hit province in the country, scarred from 26 years of violent fighting and military rule.


Asia Foundation Experts to Discuss Subnational Conflicts in Mindanao and S. Thailand

June 26, 2013

Blog Post

On the heels of The Asia Foundation’s release of the highly anticipated study, “The Contested Corners of Asia,” the Foundation co-sponsored a panel on June 27 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., “Is Peace Breaking Out in Southeast Asia?” The Foundation’s Thailand expert, John Brandon, and country rep in the Philip… Read more


“Is Peace Breaking Out in Southeast Asia?”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Events Post

11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC, 20036 Moderated by: Vikram Nehru, Senior Associate and Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian Studies, Carnegie Endowment With special guest panelists: John Brandon, Director, International Relations Program and Associate Director, Washing… Read more


New Round of Talks Gives Hope for Peace in Thailand’s South

June 19, 2013

Blog Post

After nearly a decade of deadly conflict in Thailand’s Deep South, Thai officials and insurgent groups met in Kuala Lumpur last week for the third round of peace talks in hopes of finding common ground to end the violence. While both sides agreed to reduce violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts next month, few concrete solutions emerged. The Thai government has been requesting a cessation or reduction of violence since discussions began on March 28, 2013, but judging from the ongoing violence on the ground, and the apparent inability by the self-proclaimed separatist leaders to influence the militants on the ground, this upcoming Ramadan is likely to be a significant test for the Barisan Revolusi Nacional (BRN) separatist movement.


Confidence in Mindanao Peace Process Fragile

June 19, 2013

Blog Post

While the peace process in Mindanao has made tremendous progress over the past year, including the signing of a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, there is still a long way to go. The current stage can be described as a “fragile transition,” where there is significant progress in the negotiation of a final settlement to the conflict…


The Right Kind of Development: Building Peace in Thailand and Beyond

June 12, 2013

Blog Post

The Asia Foundation’s new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia,” highlights the growing importance of conflicts that occur within rather than between countries. In recent years, subnational conflicts between national governments and local rebel groups…


Lessons from Aceh: Early Focus on Institutions Critical to Cementing Peace

June 12, 2013

Blog Post

Aceh – Indonesia’s western-most province which endured three decades of a secessionist civil war that left at least 15,000 dead – is frequently cited as the best recent example in Asia of a successful peace process. However, eight years after the Helsinki accord brought an end to the conflict, new forms of localized violence are now emerging.


Data Visualization Site Examines Asia’s Subnational Conflicts

June 12, 2013

Blog Post

In conjunction with The Asia Foundation’s new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia: Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance,” a just launched data visualization website provides further insight into one of the most pressing challenges in Asia today.


The Future of Armed Conflict

June 5, 2013

Blog Post

The Asia Foundation just launched a major new study on development and subnational conflict in Asia. “The Contested Corners of Asia” argues that subnational conflict is the most widespread, deadly, and enduring form of conflict in Asia, and that increasing development and expanding state capacity do not make these conflicts any easier to resolve. A product of a three-year research effort, the study involved nearly 100 researchers, leading subnational conflict experts…


Report Finds Changes Needed in Foreign Aid to Help End Longest-Running, Deadliest Conflicts in Asia

Bangkok, June 2, 2013

News Post

Subnational conflict now the most deadly, widespread, enduring form of violent conflict in Asia Findings challenge aid community to re-think assumptions on how aid contributes to peace A new study by The Asia Foundation has found that subnational conflict, or armed conflict over control of a territory in a sovereign state, is now the most deadly, w… Read more


The Asia Foundation in Washington, DC Presents “Subnational Conflicts in Asia: Can Foreign Aid Help End Some of the World’s Longest-Running Conflicts?”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Events Post

9:00 am – 11:00 am The Cosmos Club Powell Room 2121 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20008 Registration will open at 8:30 am. Remarks will begin promptly at 9:00 am. On June 13 in Washington, DC, The Asia Foundation will host a presentation of the findings of a major new study on subnational conflict, The Contested Corners of Asia: Subnationa… Read more


New Study to Reveal Impact of Foreign Aid on Asia’s Enduring Subnational Conflicts

May 29, 2013

Blog Post

On June 3 in Bangkok, The Asia Foundation will release a major new study, “The Contested Corners of Asia,” that examines subnational conflict, now the most deadly, widespread, and enduring form of violent conflict in Asia.


The Asia Foundation in San Francisco Presents “Subnational Conflicts in Asia: Can Foreign Aid Help?”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Events Post

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. World Affairs Council 312 Sutter Street, Suite 200 San Francisco, CA 94108 Moderated by: Alastair Gee, Monocle Magazine’s San Francisco Correspondent With special guest panelists: Thomas Parks, Regional Director for Conflict and Governance, The Asia Foundation Nils Gilman, Director of Research, Monitor 360 Ben Oppenheim, Fell… Read more


Rethinking Results Monitoring in Conflict Areas

September 19, 2012

Blog Post

Despite a major expansion of funding to the world’s most conflict affected areas over the past decade, many of these regions, including in Asia, remain afflicted by the same problems of poor governance, troubled state-society relations, and insecurity.


How Can International Assistance to Burma Avoid Mistakes of the Past?

May 9, 2012

Blog Post

Burma (also known as Myanmar) may be on the verge of a dramatic expansion of international assistance. After last month’s parliamentary by-elections, there is likely to be more support for easing sanctions and increasing foreign assistance to the country to support the changes underway.


Are Internal Conflicts Holding Asia Back?

October 19, 2011

Blog Post

Internal conflicts are a widespread and enduring problem for Asia – Afghanistan, Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar, among others. Ten of the 18 countries in South and Southeast Asia have protracted internal conflicts, and in a few, there are several. These internal conflicts last a very long time…


Development Realism: Why the World Bank’s World Development Report Should Lead to Changes in Aid to Fragile States

April 27, 2011

Blog Post

Earlier this month, the World Bank released its 2011 World Bank Development Report, “Conflict, Security and Development.” This highly ambitious report intends to challenge conventional wisdom and propose a new strategy for the international community to help countries emerge from war, long-running violent conflict, entrenched criminality, and fragility. In my view, the report has accomplished this goal, and in so doing, may change the way we work with fragile states and conflict-affected regions.


What do Local Perceptions tell us About Prospects for Peace in Southern Thailand?

December 15, 2010

Blog Post

The Asia Foundation’s first survey of the population of southern Thailand, released December 16 in Bangkok, gives us rare insight into the conflict, from the perspective of those most affected by it. Since the re-emergence of violent conflict almost seven years ago, the region has been notoriously difficult to understand, in large part due to the l… Read more


Signs of a New Insurgency in Thailand?

October 13, 2010

Blog Post

On October 5, the normally quiet Bangkok suburb of Nonthaburi was jolted by an explosion that left four people dead and several more wounded. The blast ripped through a nondescript, working-class apartment building and an adjacent market in the early evening, just before residents were returning from work. Thai investigators have determined that th… Read more


[Video] Tom Parks Discusses Conflict and Fragile Conditions in Asia

October 6, 2010

Blog Post

Asia today, compared to the last century, is remarkably peaceful. But there are still a number of pockets of Asia which are affected by long term, very violent conflict. The difference between now and the past, is that these are now mostly internal, sub-national conflicts and affect nearly the whole of South and Southeast Asia, says Tom Parks, The… Read more


Fixing Aid to Fragile Places

April 21, 2010

Blog Post

There seems to be a growing consensus that aid to conflict-affected and fragile regions needs fixing. The worsening conditions in Afghanistan have had a sobering effect on the international community, particularly development donors and organizations. If we cannot prevent the slide back to conflict and continued poverty for Afghanistan’s war-weary… Read more


A New Peace Plan for Southern Thailand

July 22, 2009

Blog Post

Recently, the Prime Minister of Thailand and more than 400 other people – including government officials, military personnel, representatives from foreign embassies and NGOs, academics, and a large contingent from the southern-most provinces of Thailand – assembled with great anticipation at the King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI) in Bangkok. The bi… Read more


The Elephant in the Room: Internal Security Operations and Conflict Management

July 30, 2008

Blog Post

At a recent conference on violent conflict in Asia, an Asian civil society leader said to me: “If we want to be serious about reducing violence in conflict-affected corners of Asia, how can we ignore the role of security forces?” In another conversation, a senior military officer from Southeast Asia explained to me that they are completely re-think… Read more


In Thailand: Violent Conflict: Past and Present

April 30, 2008

Blog Post

Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand ” For more than 800 km, the muddy brown waters of the Mekong River divide Thailand and Laos. Here at Khong Jiem, the easternmost point of Thailand, the Mekong drifts slowly into Lao territory, leaving Thailand for the last leg of its journey to the South China Sea. In this remote corner of Thailand, the economic and polit… Read more


Critical Challenges in Asia: Violent Conflict and Fragile States

January 9, 2008

Blog Post

Violent conflict presents enormous challenges for development and security in Asia. Many of Asia’s worst cases of instability and political violence are a direct result of sub-national conflicts involving areas in remote or border regions. In these peripheral areas, the state tends to have very limited capacity and its authority is challenged by ar… Read more