Alternative Asean Charter – by the people?

Posted by Nazry Bahrawi & Think Centre under Public Forums on 7 November 2007

A civil society coalition plans to issue its own Asean People's Charter and agenda.

ASEAN should recognise the vaious opinion voiced by ASEAN+Civil Society Conference [ACSC3], Nov 2-4, Singapore.

Otherwise, will the people support the efforts of ASEAN economic integration hoping for a new alliance of hope, better living and working condition, Social Dialgoue and Social Justice, grounded on democracy, human rights and cultural pluralism.

The ASEAN elite leadership who dominate the region maintain an arbitrary differentiation between ‘state' and ‘non-state' actors as an excuse to uphold establishment and justify turning a blind eye towards the real needs and rights of the people. That has led to abuse of fundamental human rights and core labour standads, with no comprehensive solutions to poverty and stifled distribution of wealth, and more gross violences.

Sinapan Samydorai, president, Think Centre

Alternative Asean Charter – by the people?

Civil society grouping wants to beef up human rights tenets

A civil society coalition plans to issue its own Asean People's Charter if the grouping's official constitution, to be signed in Singapore this month, fails to include several human rights principles.

The People's Charter will be a "symbolic" one to remind Asean's 10 member states of the principles of human rights, said Mr Sinapan Samydorai, president of Singapore-based Think Centre. The civil society organisation is also a member of the Solidarity for Asian People's Advocacy (Sapa) Working Group on Asean, a regional network of more than 100 civil society groups formalised last February, which aims to engage Asean on human rights issues.

According to Mr Samydorai, Sapa had submitted three proposals related to human rights issues to the Asean Eminent Persons Group last year.

He told Today: "Based on the three proposals we have worked out, we have already a framework in mind … If we find aspects such as social rights lacking, then the coalition can release the People's Charter probably in the first quarter of next year."

Mr Samydorai was speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd Asean Civil Society Conference yesterday.

The conference saw several key civil society figures criticising Asean's response towards the latest crisis in Myanmar.

"If an Asean member … continually misbehaves and drags down the rest of

Asean, then there is an obligation to find a way of addressing this issue," Ms Debbie Stothard, coordinator of the Bangkok-based Alternative Asean Network on Burma, told Today.

Ms Stothard is disappointed that — after issuing a tough statement expressing revulsion at the military crackdown, Asean has now "abandoned" any ideas of suspending or sanctioning Myanmar.

Yesterday also saw the formalisation of Sapa's interim Singapore chapter, the Singapore Working Group on Asean (SWGA), which currently comprises nine members from seven local civil society organisations such as The Necessary Stage and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).

The Singapore chapter plans to establish a pro-tem committee in January with 17 members from different organisations representing various interests, such as the arts and culture and migrant workers, said SWGA member Alvin Tan, who is also the artistic director of The Necessary Stage.

Sources and Relevant Links:

Today Alternative Asean Charter – by the people? November 3, 2007 Civil society grouping wants to beef up human rights tenets

SWGA/Think Centre/ACSC3 No Bloody Hand on an ASEAN Charter

SWGA/Think Centre/ACSC3 ACSC3 Singapore Declaration


SWG and Think Centre Interim Singapore Working Group gets a new mandate

SWGA 3rd ASEAN+Civil Society Conference

Focus on Global South REVISITING SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGIONALISM includes the 3 submissions of SAPA

Prachatai Civil Society Role is Key in Transforming ASEAN 02 November 2007

Prachatai No Bloody Hands on an ASEAN Charter and Singapore Declaration 5 November 2007

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