We, more than 700 delegates representing people’s organizations from ASEAN countries gathered together at the 6th ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, from 24-26 September 2010 under the theme “Solidarity and Action for a People-Oriented ASEAN” have discussed and concluded the following:
We reaffirm the fundamental principles of people-centered sustainable development, democratic governance, human rights, sovereignty of peoples, dignity and the best interests of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the pursuit of economic, social, gender and ecological justice so as to bring peace and prosperity to the Southeast Asian region.
We support the specific objective laid out in the ASEAN Charter of building a people-oriented ASEAN Community. We believe that this process should include:
- Political Security - The ASEAN and its member countries should work collectively to promote effective mechanisms and agreements to maintain peace and security for conflict prevention and the non-violent settlement of disputes. The ASEAN and its member countries should also work towards further democratization including free and fair elections, the promotion and protection of human rights based on international humanitarian and human rights laws and standards and enhancement of people’s collective rights and participation.
- Economic Development - ASEAN’s economic integration and cooperation should focus on enhancing mutual assistance, and complementary growth based on the principles of solidarity, equity and environmental sustainability. The ASEAN and its member countries should move away from the flawed neo-liberal economic paradigm and promote and advance alternative democratic economic models to provide equitable, socially and ecologically sustainable development to benefit all its peoples, narrow the gaps of development within and among member countries and ensure economic sovereignty and the interests of the working people and marginalized communities. At the same time, the ASEAN and its member countries must recognize already existing practices of self-sufficiency and sustainable resource management of local communities, effectively protect environment and address the problem of global climate change and its impacts in the region.
- Environment - The ASEAN region face urgent multiple environmental crises, including climate change, in large part due to the large-scale “development” projects within the region and the plunder, abuse and destruction of ecological resources that are associated with unsustainable and inequitable economic systems and policies. The ASEAN and its member governments should work together to comprehensively address these environmental crises and ensure that the sustainable use of ecological resources be integral to all economic policies. The ASEAN and its member governments should actively contribute to global solutions including ensuring that those primarily responsible - governments, corporations and institutions - are held accountable and fulfill their obligations for the restoration of environmental integrity and reparations to those who suffer the consequences of environmental crises.
- Social Protection and Culture - Everyone in the ASEAN region should be protected and benefit equally and fairly from development and economic growth, especially children, women, migrants, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, religious communities, workers, trade unions, peasants, fisher folk, refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced peoples, the elderly, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ (lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transgender, intra-sexual and queer), people living with HIV/AIDS and other impoverished, disadvantaged and marginalized communities. The ASEAN and its member countries must focus on poverty elimination, ensuring decent work, the development of public services including quality health care, housing, and education for all with consideration for gender perspectives. The ASEAN must also foster the development of a healthy, empowering, non-discriminatory and humane culture. Social and cultural development must promote equality and people’s participation at every level.
- People’s Participation - People’s participation is central to democracy and a basic right. While appreciating the lofty goals set out in the ASEAN Charter around building a people-oriented community, we are disappointed and concerned that until date the ASEAN has not made significant progress in ensuring increased transparency and access to information and meaningful participation in ASEAN affairs. People’s organizations and civil society organizations and including those of children must be part of the discussion around economic models, social protection, respect for cultures, human rights, the environment and peace and conflict resolution. We call on the ASEAN to develop mechanisms for the meaningful engagement of people’s organizations in all ASEAN processes.
We resolve to work together through plans of joint action to:
- Overcome social and cultural barriers, inequalities and differences in order to promote better understanding, friendship, cooperation and people’s integration in the spirit of solidarity and culture of peace among peoples in ASEAN,
- Learn from each other’s experiences and advance common struggles for peace, equitable and sustainable development, for people-centered democracy and human rights and for social justice and progress to actively contribute to the building of a people-oriented community of ASEAN,
- Promote our shared principles.
We urge the governments of the ASEAN to:
- Give primacy to the protection and full realization of the rights of children, women, migrants, youth, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, religious communities, workers, trade unions, peasants, fisher folk, refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced peoples, the elderly, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ, people living with HIV/AIDS, victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and other impoverished, disadvantaged and marginalized communities as a key goal of the ASEAN integration process;
- Adopt and implement a Fourth Strategic Pillar on the Environment in order to effectively address all environmental problems especially those caused by trans-boundary policies and projects, and urgently respond to the climate crisis;
- Heed the recommendations of the People’s Forum and promote concrete policies and programs designed to advance human rights, economic and environmental justice and social security, and to do so through mechanisms promoting for people’s participation in the process of building ASEAN into a multi-dimensional community;
- Form, at the soonest, an effective mechanism for dialogue, coordination and cooperation between people’s organizations and official channels in the region, including through ASEAN Secretariat itself;
- Accelerate the implementation of the functions of the newly-established AICHR and ACWC to operate effectively and in a way that is responsive to the needs of people in the region; and
- Support the ASEAN people’s programs of action, measures aimed at developing communication, interaction and cooperation among ASEAN people’s organizations.
We call upon ASEAN and its member governments to undertake the following:
1. Poverty is a serious problem in Southeast Asia. It is the result of decades of war, structural inequalities, inappropriate and ineffective programs, and trade and development policies that benefit elites rather than the needs of poor communities. The ASEAN and its member governments should undertake basic economic and social reforms and cease liberalization, budget austerity measures and other policies that contribute to impoverishment. ASEAN member governments should also learn from countries in the region that have followed diverse models and made significant steps to eliminate poverty.
2. Agriculture is way of life for the majority of people in the region. We call on the ASEAN and member governments to invest in a new model of sustainable agriculture that should include support for agrarian reform, small farmers, women, recognition of the traditional occupations of indigenous peoples and respect for the environment. Given the diverse nature of farmers in the region, ASEAN governments should promote and prioritize an investment model that includes financing for cooperatives, fair trade and scaling up best practices from the community level. We call on the ASEAN to establish a regional agriculture policy in line with the above.
3. Economic integration based on Free Trade Agreements has had serious effects on livelihoods of different sectors of the society including farmers, workers and women. The ASEAN and its member governments should promote alternative investment, trade, finance and development policies that put people first and strengthen domestic economies. The review of all free trade agreements that have disproportionately benefited the rich and multi-national companies at the expense of poor and marginalized communities is an important step towards a new economic model based on people’s basic rights and interests. Such a process should be transparent and inclusive, involve the active participation of all stakeholders, especially poor and marginalized communities. It should take place at the national and regional levels.
4. The ASEAN and its member governments should mobilize finance to eliminate poverty without exacerbating the debt burden and implement economic policies that build the domestic financial capacity of member countries. ASEAN member states should implement official audit of public debt. Debts found to be illegitimate should be repudiated to free up fiscal space for much needed social and development infrastructure. The member states should refuse the attachment of conditions to loans and grants - including those imposed by the IMF, World Bank, ADB and other international financial institutions. ASEAN countries should implement macro-economic policies that will promote sustainable growth and people-centered development through open, transparent and participatory decision-making processes. The ASEAN should set up a mechanism to help the member countries eliminate their debt burdens.
5. Natural resources are public goods. The ASEAN and its member governments should ensure:
- That ecological resources of the region remain under the control of and be used for the equitable benefit of the peoples of Southeast Asia.
- The extraction and the use of natural resources should be carried out only to the benefit and with the consent of the community in a transparent, accountable, ecologically sustainable and gender-fair manner, should genuinely contribute to poverty elimination, and should not violate human rights nor harm lives and livelihoods.
- The protection of the rich biodiversity in the region without compromising the traditional livelihoods of local communities.
The ASEAN and its member states should recognize the human right to water and that water is a part of the commons. It should ensure that all citizens have adequate and clean water needed to sustain life and that water services remain in public hands. The ASEAN and its member states should promote safe, clean and sustainable energy and address the challenges associated with the climate crisis.
6. The climate crisis is a grave threat to the ASEAN region. ASEAN countries should act as a bloc to demand that Annex 1 countries drastically reduce carbon emissions and provide condition-free non-debt creating financing for adaptation and sustainable development as part of reparations for climate debt owed to the Global South. Countries should also prepare for the ecological effects of climate change and ensure the participation of vulnerable communities in this project. Mitigation and adaptation strategies should not exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.
7. ASEAN governments should guarantee the right to formal and informal education for all including early childhood education and bilingual education, especially for the disadvantaged people such as indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, women and girls, persons with disabilities and those coming from remote and distant areas. In order to deliver on this commitment principle, governments must spend 6% of GNP on the improvement of access to quality and relevant education, stop the privatization of education and other policies that risk rationing educational services based on who can afford to pay. Without delay, the ASEAN must implement its 10 point Agenda to Reach the Unreached.
8. ASEAN governments should ensure universal access to health services, including the fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health needs and addressing sexually-transmitted diseases. ASEAN member countries must respond to health problems, which are otherwise preventable but are still causing alarming mortality rates especially among impoverished and vulnerable populations. For example, more effective means must be undertaken to accelerate reduction in the maternal mortality ratio. For more effective health-related interventions, the ASEAN should encourage member states to adopt clear, adequately funded, non-discriminatory and equitable policies and programs of implementation. Necessarily, the governments would have to ensure inputs especially from high-risk communities and be guided by data disaggregated for sex, ethnicity, age and other relevant parameters.
9. The ASEAN should promote cooperation among member states to urgently address the issue of HIV/AIDS in the region. Different interventions are needed to respond to different country situations, but there is agreement on the need for prevention. Since HIV/AIDS recognizes no boundaries, action must be taken across countries to immediately start and/or sustain preventive and curative actions including providing access to affordable and quality medicines. The ASEAN must also urge all member states to enact laws that will eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
10. As articulated in the Charter, respect for human rights and democracy should be a key part of the ASEAN community. All countries should have national human rights institutions to independently monitor and improve the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The AICHR, ACWC and ACMW should be part of this process. In this regard the ACWC must be convened at the soonest possible time; and towards this we urge the Philippine government to immediately select a representative through a transparent and inclusive process. Countries should also be encouraged to move towards systems of government that include checks and balances as well as free and fair elections to prevent abuses of power and human rights violations. The ASEAN should urge all member states to ratify and implement and enforce all humanitarian and international human rights treaties and agreements. The ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights must undergo consultations with the peoples of the ASEAN, conform with international human rights standards and be adopted by the ASEAN Ministerial meeting.
11. Children and young people make up the majority of the population of Southeast Asia. ASEAN governments should fulfill their obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and other human rights for all children within and across their borders regardless of national and legal status. We urge the governments of the ASEAN to coordinate efforts at national and regional levels top address cross-border issues such as trafficking, migration, emergencies, violence and armed conflicts and ensure the inclusion of children, especially marginalized children in processes that affect them.
12. The ASEAN must ensure meaningful and substantive participations and representation of women in all ASEAN processes and structures as generated by the ASEAN Charter. ASEAN member states must allocate resources to ensure promotion and protection of all human (social, economic and political) rights of women in Southeast Asia, especially the marginalized groups, and end harmful cultural practices, discriminatory policies and change legislations by advancing policies and laws to advance women’s human rights and de facto gender equality in Southeast Asia. Trafficking of persons and especially of women and children must be stopped in the ASEAN by adopting a legally binding instrument through a rights-based and victim-centered approach.
13. The ASEAN and its member governments should ensure protection, promotion, and the realization of the rights of all workers including migrant workers. Towards these, all ASEAN member countries should:
- Adopt the ASEAN Social Charter and implement the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the rights of migrant workers (ADMW).
- Amend labor laws regulating recruiting agencies.
- Harmonize their labor laws in line with the ILO Fundamental principles (C.87 and C.98) and trade union rights (the right to organize at work), the ADMW, and relevant ILO Conventions 97 on Migration for Employment, 143 on Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions), 177 on Home Workers Convention, 181 on Private Employment Agencies, and other related Conventions.
- Push for the establishment of the Convention on Domestic Workers.
- Ensure that ASEAN Instruments on the protection and promotion of the rights of all migrant workers are legally binding, and hold accountable those in both private and public sectors who violate these laws; formulate and adopt a policy to liberalize labour migration so that ASEAN nationals, especially migrant workers can move with dignity.
- Give adequate protection, fair wages and access to decent living and working conditions to all workers, including migrant workers, and workers in informal sectors.
14. Artisanal and traditional fishers play a key role in managing coastal and inland water resources and provide a substantial portion of food in the ASEAN region, but their specific needs, concerns and rights are often ignored. The ASEAN must protect fisher people from unsustainable forms of commercial fishing, and the impact of large development projects such as the construction of the hydropower dams on the Mekong and coastal industrialization projects. The ASEAN must play a role in peacefully resolving border and trans-boundary conflicts in coastal zones, as referred to in the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.
15. The ASEAN must recognize, respect and ensure the full realization of the collective rights of the indigenous peoples and marginalized ethnic minorities over their land territories and resources which include the implementation of the safeguard provision for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of affected communities in all projects and programs. The ASEAN should establish an independent working group and monitoring mechanism within AICHR promoting and ensuring the protection of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities’ rights, with their effective participation.
16. The rights of people with disabilities including the victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and unexploded ordinance and other marginalized communities should be prioritized and mainstreamed in the ASEAN community. The ASEAN and its members should ratify and/or implement all related UN treaties and protocols and instruments. Mechanisms should be put in place at the local, national and regional levels to ensure that their voices are heard, that their rights are recognized and protected across the region, that decisions are made with their active participation.
17. All ASEAN states should be encouraged to sign, ratify and implement the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This would include implementing domestic legislation and policies such as respecting the principle of non-refoulement (no forcible repatriation), giving all refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons the same rights as citizens, and ensuring that they be provided with employment, universal birth registration, health care and education. The ASEAN should create a regional mechanism to support the rights of refugees and stateless people. The rights of refugees and stateless persons should be explicitly included in the mandate of the AICHR and safeguarded in the proposed ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights.
We welcome and appreciate the participation of ASEAN Secretariat in the Forum and express our sincere thanks to the Vietnamese organizing committee, the host government, and the Vietnamese people for the extended hospitality and facilitation of this ASEAN People’s Forum. We congratulate Hanoi on the celebration of its Millennium Anniversary.