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Challenge of Economic Slowdown to Democracy, Peace and Security in Asia and the Pacific

International IDEA participated at the webinar "Facing Current Challenges on Democracy, Peace and Security", organized on Wednesday, 7 January 2021, by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences together with Asia Pacific Association for Peace Research (APPRA). Leena Rikkilä Tamang, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, presented the major regional findings of The Global State of Democracy 2019: Addressing the Ills, Reviving the Promise, and of Taking Stock of Regional Democratic Trends in Asia and the Pacific Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic (December 2020).

The webinar discussed the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken in Asia to democracy, peace and security in the region. While pandemic still raging, many countries are also facing challenges of local politics, and security issues. Political leadership is challenged to manage not only pandemic but also other persistent and ongoing issues, such as internal conflicts and human security challenges. Longer term concerns over economic slowdown are shadowing decision making. The Webinar focused on Indonesian experience in the regional context.

In reference to Global COVID-19 Monitoring Tool of Democracy and Human Rights, Leena Rikkilä Tamang mentioned that, on positive side, Indonesia has deployed significant welfare programmes for its citizens and openly reported the data about the pandemic. Yet, Media Integrity and Freedom of Expression have been curtailed amid the pandemic under the pretext of stopping disinformation with concerns raised about the detention of people under the criminal defamation law. Worry is that the anti-corruption efforts will take a hit during the pandemic, and new laws are passed without adequate scrutiny.

She also noted that as per the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices, Indonesia scores above South East Asian average and has made steady progress on most aspects of democracy, with execption of absence of corruption, since  democracy was introduced in1997. "The pandemic has been an X-ray of our socities revealing the- sometimes latent- strenghts and weaknesses of our political systems", Leena Rikkilä Tamang said. 

Representative of the Office of the President of Indonesia emphasised the importance of creating a common perception and understanding of the COVID-19 amongst citizens; what is required by everyone to stay safe while guarding democracy. In this endeavour communication is a key. Other key elements relate to welfare schemes and budget. It is anticipated that the pandemic is likely to lead to economic slowdown, which may further aggravate security concerns.

Opening remarks were provided by Prof. Matt Meyer, Secretary General of International Peace Research Association (IPRA), Prof. Dr Tri Nuke Pujiastuti, Deputy of Social and Humanities, The Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Vice Admiral TNI Dr Amarulla Octavian, S.T., MSc, D.E.S.D, Rector of Indonesia Defense University,  and Dr Manish Sharma, Co-Secretary General of Asia Pacific Peace Research Association (APPRA).

Keynote was provided by the Coordinator Minister of Politics, Law and Security, Dr Mohammad Mahfud. 

Speakers included Gen. Moeldoko, Chief of Staff of the President of the Republic of Indonesia; Prof. Firman Noor, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences; Prof. Dr Rosalie Arcala Hall, University of the Phillipine Visayas; and Leena Rikkilä Tamang, Director for the Asia and the Pacific, International IDEA. Moderator was Sri Nuryanti, from APPRA

Altogether 225 invited participants attended the webinar. The webinar recording will be replayed at IPRA Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, January 2021.

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