31 May 2008, the Singapore Working for ASEAN led by Think Centre launched a series of discussions on ACSC-4 and ASEAN Peoples' Charter Process.
The objectives of the RoundTable Discussion are:
1. To broaden and deepen civil society participation and engagement with ASEAN not just at the regional level but also at the country level
2. To raise awareness, gather and consolidate civil society inputs for the ASEAN Peoples' Charter and involve them in the drafting processes for the ASEAN Political/Security Community (ASC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprints
3. To foster and encourage an inclusive and consultative process on the drafting and finalization of the ASEAN Peoples' Charter for presentation during the 4th ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC IV) from 13 to 15 Dec 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Michael Cheng gave an overview of the regional mechanism (Solidarity for Asian Peoples' Advocacies - SAPA) and what the Singapore Working Group for ASEAN (SWGA) has achieved in the past.
ASEAN Peoples' Charter Process
The ASEAN Charter is compromise of many aspirations from very different countries with varying levels of social, economic and political development, it is necessarily limited in terms of scope, coverage and depth of issues.
The Peoples' Charter hopes to complement the ASEAN Charter by being a 'living document', one which does not end with the signing by representative signatories but which continues to evolve as it is being implemented, it is an action oriented guide proposed by the people. The values it encapsulate are motivated from the ground up, they are the democratic aggregation of the aspirations of the people of ASEAN and not an elitist blueprint drawn out by high level bureaucrats with the sole aim of economic aggrandizement.
The ASEAN secretariat has sought consultation with regional NGOs on their feedback while they work out the Political/Security and Socio-Cultural Blueprints. The secretariat aims to obtain the inputs from NGOs by August 08.
Unfortunately, the economic blueprint has already been finalized without similar consultation.
Three teams were created from all present to facilitate discussion on the various themes of the Peoples' Charter and also preparation for presentation in Bangkok.
a) Socio-Economic rights
b) Civil Political Rights
c) Social -Cultural Rights
** The above includes thematic discussion on Workers' rights, Migrants Workers' Rights, Women's rights, Child rights etc
Teams will meet again on 28 June 08 (Saturday) to update the group on progress and work out a critique of the current inadequacies of the ASEAN Charter and the areas of improvement that can be made to it.
Another date on the 26 July (Saturday) was also set aside to finalize Singapore's contribution and wish list to the People's Charter which would be collated at the SAPA regional conference on Human Rights from 3-5 August 08.
There would also be a meeting of the regional and national Human Rights CSOs on 13 June in Singapore.
Participants were invited to join them to hear first hand what the plans are and what have been achieved so far.
Apart from members of the Think Centre and Singapore Working Group for ASEAN who are coordinating the meeting, individuals interested in the discussion are invited.
Sources and Relevant Links:
SAPA Working Group on ASEAN Analysis of the ASEAN Charter 18 November 2007
ASEAN ASEAN Charter November 2007
Think Centre ASEAN Peoples' Charter Process Launched 10 November 2007
Singapore Working Group for ASEAN STATEMENT OF THE SINGAPORE CIVIL SOCIETY 3 November 2007
Singapore Working Group for ASEAN ACSC+3 and Singapore Working Group for ASEAN 3 November 2007
ASEAN & Think Centre THE ASEAN CHARTER: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 12 August 2007