Is the Climate Crisis Leading to ‘Rupture’ in Southeast Asia’s Mekong?
In natural environments and in human societies, pressure for change can build up gradually for years, then suddenly reach a point of no return. Living in the new “Anthropocene” era of climate crisis, people worldwide are increasingly aware of the linkages between ecological, social and political stability. Stress in one of these domains can contribute to a rupture in others. According to human geographer Sango Mahanty, such a rupture is “a dramatic episode of nature-society disruption that is adverse, intense, and ripples across scales” of space and time. In Southeast Asia, one of the most visible instances of rupture is the explosion of dam construction on the Mekong River and its tributaries.
Never Again? The Legacy of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Trials
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled over Cambodia committed untold atrocities, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people dying of starvation, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. In mid-September, over 40 years after its reign of terror, the only formal accountability mechanism to prosecute the Khmer Rouge —the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — issued the final decision of its judicial mandate. While the court's legacy is complex, it served an important platform for accountability and reparations for victims. As it moves to a new phase of residual functions over the next three years, the international community should prioritize supporting its work, which is vital to boosting peace and stability and protecting the rights of Cambodians.
China’s Security Force Posture in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia
China’s geo-economic influence is empowering the expansion of its security force posture in the Lower Mekong region, which should be of concern to both maritime Southeast Asia and the United States. While Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia—the geographic core of mainland Southeast Asia—are demonstrating resilience and sustaining some strategic autonomy, several trends indicate that their options may be increasingly limited. This report looks at China’s security force posture in these nations, the possible ramifications of that posture, and considerations for balancing U.S. policy and outreach.