Background

The violent conflict in Thailand's Deep South has become a systemic phenomenon emerging from a host of interrelated factors. Thus, the conflict cannot be fully comprehended by its constituent parts, but has to be considered as a whole. Like many other conflict areas, a combination of socioeconomic, cultural and political factors have led to the protracted and dynamic conflicts. In-depth academic and comparative studies are required to identify reasonable solutions.

Throughout the decade of violence in Thailand's southern border provinces, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani has engaged in attempts to bring about a peaceful settlement through scholarship; a critical arena for promoting communication and a common understanding among concerned parties and stakeholders. Non-violence and political transition are the essence of peace processes and academia has much to contribute through thoughtful engagement.

In August 2014, a network of faculties and institutions at PSU Pattani worked hand in hand to organise the “International Conference on Communication, Conflicts and Peace Processes: Landscapes of Knowledge from Asia and the Deep South of Thailand (CCPP)”. It was the first international academic conference in humanities and social science ever to be organised in this conflict region since 2004. It proved that an international conference could take place in a region still considered by some peace experts to be under an ongoing 'armed conflict.'

On 30 September 2015, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani together with other universities in the Deep South and Southeast Asia organised another International Conference entitled, “TriPEACE via ASEAN Muslim Societies: Muslim Societies, Knowledge, and Peacebuilding in Southeast Asia”. The conference inaugurated academic partnerships between universities in the Philippines' Mindanao and Aceh in Indonesia, thereby establishing and affirming the significance of a regional network to promote peace in the Southeast Asia region through collaboration and exchange.

Now, even though the peace dialogue between the Thai government and MARA Patani has run into difficulties in the context of national political uncertainty, the academic and civil society peace fields are becoming ever more robust. There has never been a more appropriate time to be assertive about peace and the politicisation of violent conflict in the region. Academic partnership within Prince of Songkla University continues via the international conference on ‘Political Transition, Non-Violence and Communication in Conflict Transformation’. The conference will act as an academic common space to engage and inspire participants and to explore solutions amidst a climate of indeterminate politics now and beyond.