The Objective/s of APF/ACSC 2014:
1. Strengthen diverse regional and national voices to advance ASEAN peoples’ solidarity for sustainable peace, development, justice and democratization.
- Support the role of Myanmar/Burma civil society in the country’s democratization, development, peace and national reconciliation.
- Accelerate inclusive ASEAN people-to-people processes to achieve peace, security, and economic, social, environmental and climate justice for all, including migrant workers and the stateless and marginalized communities.
- Expand learning and understanding of the different processes and political developments of ASEAN and its members, including peoples’ struggles for human rights and self-determination in Myanmar.
- Assert civil society’s role in ASEAN community-building and key processes including the upcoming review of the ASEAN Charter and Community Blueprints and TOR of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
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March 24, 2014
Statement of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) 2014
Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity Toward Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratisation
We, more than 3,000 delegates from civil society, peoples’ and grassroots organisations and individuals in Myanmar, the ASEAN region and beyond, jointly discussed a wide range of thematic and systematic issues currently confronting the ASEAN people at the ACSC/APF 2014 in Yangon, Myanmar from 21st to 23rd March 2014. We urge the ASEAN leaders of the 24th ASEAN Summit to consider the following statement and recommendations made with a view to ensuring peace, plurality, justice, collaboration, and sustainable and gender responsive development in the region, particularly to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the people of ASEAN. The theme for the forum, “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity Toward Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratisation,” reflects current challenges in the region and calls for strengthening diverse national and regional voices in the decision making processes of ASEAN towards a genuinely people-centred ASEAN.
We reaffirm the fundamental principles of a people-centred ASEAN with sustainable peace and development, democratic and just governance, rule of law (not rule by law), universal human rights and dignity (including women and child rights, etc.), social, cultural, economic and ecological justice, gender equality and gender justice, non-discrimination, inclusivity, reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities, in the best interests of the people of ASEAN, especially of vulnerable and marginalised groups, including but not limited to women, children, older persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic and indigenous peoples, LGBTIQ and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons, all workers including migrants and workers in the informal economy, religious minorities, young people, political prisoners and their families, refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless and landless people, artisanal fisherfolks, sex workers, victims of prostitution and all forms of violence and forced labour, trafficked persons, drug users, and persons living with HIV/AIDS.
We pledge to work cooperatively and engage constructively with ASEAN governments and other regional and international stakeholders in the spirit of partnership, ownership and self-determination for the improvement of the quality of life and dignity of the ASEAN people.
As civil society, peoples’ and grassroots organisations and individuals, we are not only beneficiaries, but also active partners and contributors for social, economic and political transformation and community development. We are therefore creatively responsive to the needs and rights of the peoples of ASEAN. Civil society will continue monitoring laws, policies and actions at the national, regional and global levels, and contribute to the realisation of a genuinely people-centred ASEAN.
We fully support the amplification of the voices of young people, their empowerment and the increase of their capacity to ensure that ASEAN is youth-driven as well as people-centred.
We are determined to contribute to all ASEAN processes including and in particular the upcoming review of the ASEAN Charter and Community Blueprints, the Terms of Reference of ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Commission on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and other global initiatives and processes that affect the lives of people in ASEAN.
ACSC/APF 2014 in the Context of Myanmar’s Transition
This year, we have the privilege of being hosted in Myanmar, a country in transition. Despite its progress, Myanmar still must overcome its overdue deficit in meeting the needs of the people. As Myanmar engages in its peace process to end more than 60 years of civil war, we wish to emphasise that sustainable peace cannot be achieved without truth, transparency, accountability, social justice and trust. Truth requires an honest discussion of the events of the war, transparency requires freely available information in language that people understand regarding investment and development plans in ethnic areas, and trust requires the immediate cessation of all military pressure and operations. Given the remaining climate of distrust and fear, the government must take significant care to implement all upcoming projects, such as the census-taking process, within an atmosphere of transparency and responsiveness to the peoples’ concerns. For peace-building efforts, all peoples must be included in the process, including women. Even with the reform process, women still face the risk of sexual violence, especially in areas affected by conflict.
The furthering of democratisation in Myanmar will require full, transparent, and participatory reform to reinstate all fundamental rights and freedoms. We call for the repeal or amendment of all laws that do not confirm with international human rights standards and legal principles, including the reform of the 2008 Constitution, the building of a genuine federal state and the decentralisation of power.
The poor and marginalised are deprived of their rights through land grabbing by private and military actors. Special Economic Zones in the country have been oriented around the pursuit of profit, and not the wellbeing of the people. Workers continue to struggle for their right to decent work. We call for economic policies that uphold the principle of ‘do no harm,’ and which protect the rights and dignity of the affected people.
Similarly, this government must work to revise the decades-long deterioration of the education system, which has deprived the youth of their foundation to become the future leaders of this country.
Our region faces serious challenges to peace and security involving sovereignty, internal conflicts arising from assertions of right to self-determination and ethnic struggles for autonomy, disputes over cross-border territorial and maritime issues, political unrest, poverty, human trafficking, forced migration, competition for access to and control of natural resources, human insecurity and a high level of violence. These are glaring manifestations of ASEAN’s failure and inability to bring about sustainable peace, justice and development in the region.
We contest ASEAN’s claim of its success to maintain peace and security in this region. The conflict and post conflict situation in ASEAN have impacted human security, particularly of vulnerable and marginalised groups.
Conflicts in the ASEAN region have occurred due to different reasons. In many cases the roots of conflict stem from the unjust treatment, unjust resource allocation and denial of rights of the people, which are obstacles for ASEAN and its peoples to achieve sustainable peace and human security in the region. Recognising the impacts of intra- and inter-state conflict on the peace and stability within the entire ASEAN region, and the lack of any existing redress mechanism, it is recommended that a Disputes and Conflict Prevention Settlement Mechanism is established as a regional mechanism for preventive and emergency response.
It is important for government, non-state actors and all parties involved in conflict to recognise the local and indigenous initiatives in peacebuilding and reconstruction processes. The roles of affected women and young people are also often overlooked despite the disproportionate impact on their lives. Governments engaging in peace processes must show their sincerity to put the interest of the people as the priority in the situations of conflict. In some cases, international communities, financial institutions and the private sectors investing in conflict areas exacerbate on-going conflict.
• Include a chapter on Regional Dispute Prevention and Settlement Mechanism in the future review of ASEAN Charter.
• Develop a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security according to principles enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, CEDAW and General Recommendation 30.
• Demonstrate commitment to comprehensive security as stated in the ASEAN Political-Security Blueprint by cutting military spending, and ensuring accountable and transparent utilisation of state budgets for community development, providing an enabling environment for women’s meaningful participation and representation in decision-making processes at all levels, including support for women’s leadership, and community education to counter all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence.
• Integrate peace education programs with gender and human rights perspectives both in formal and non-formal education systems at all levels as well as supporting peace initiative activities of young people and civil society.
• Ensure the rights of freedom of expression and assembly and freedom of media to promote peace through mainstreaming peace in traditional and digital media.
Human Rights and Justice
Despite having its own human rights mechanism, countries within ASEAN continue to face a multitude of challenges relating to protection of human rights and access to justice for all, especially for vulnerable and marginalised communities.
Women, children, young people, people with disabilities and LGBTIQ and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons, continue to be neglected by ASEAN Member States in shaping its future. It is important to recognise that violence against women inhibits both the fulfilment of women’s rights and participation in all decision-making and community building processes. Despite all states within ASEAN having ratified CEDAW and other relevant international treaties and declarations, ASEAN has failed to establish effective, rights-based and indicator-based monitoring mechanisms to address violence against women. Similarly, significant gaps exist in meeting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all, particularly women and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. Furthermore, lack of comprehensive sexuality education and youth friendly services, in addition to existent gender inequality, stigma and discrimination, create barriers to young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights to information and services. Persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expression continue to face criminalisation denying them of enjoyment of basic rights, freedoms and benefits of development guaranteed to all persons within ASEAN.
Migration is a reality within the region and yet ASEAN does not have adequate protection for all migrants especially forced migrants and stateless persons. Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effect of migration and many Children on the Move (COM) are not recognised by existing laws or law enforcers and therefore are denied access to basic services and exposed to heightened risk of economic or sexual exploitation, abuse or neglect. Most importantly while workers’ wages in most ASEAN countries fall far below living wages, which fail to cover basic living expenses, migrant workers experience additional discrimination in terms of denial and restrictions on basic rights to freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, access to quality education and health services, and legal remedies.
The above situations fail to be addressed by AICHR and ACWC because of a lack of power as human rights bodies. One of the causes of weakness of the bodies stems from the weak Terms of Reference (TOR) of AICHR. Due to be reviewed in 2014, improvement to AICHR’s TOR can contribute to the strengthening of its mandate, particularly that of human rights protections. Key problems in the TOR are the existing principles of consensus, non-interference and the lack of independence of the Commission, which must be addressed by ASEAN Member States. In the review of the TOR, it is important to ensure the inclusive and meaningful participation of other human rights institutions, such as ACWC and national human rights institutions, as well as civil society.
• Establish indicators that recognise the diversities of women to ensure holistic monitoring of progress in addressing violence against women. ASEAN governments should utilise indicator-based methods and establish partnerships with civil society in monitoring progress on implementation of commitments and obligations in eliminating violence against women, and involvement of women in the process of peacebuilding in resolving conflicts.
• Demonstrate stronger political commitment and provide sustained investments to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights status of women, young people and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. These include the provision of comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services.
• Immediately repeal laws and regulations that directly and indirectly criminalise LGBTIQ and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons, and harmonise national laws and regional human rights instruments, policies and practices with the United Nations human rights treaties and the Yogyakarta Principles through consultation with and active engagement of LGBTIQ and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons.
• Stop the immigration detention of children, forced migrants and stateless persons, and implement alternatives to detention for these populations. Use immigration detention only as a measure of last resort for other forced migration populations. The rights of Children on the Move, including those who are affected by disasters and natural calamities, should be promoted and protected without discrimination by providing access to free compulsory basic education and quality health services, legal protection, provision of alternative care, and protection from all forms of abuses and exploitation.
• Guarantee the right of all workers including migrant workers to non-discrimination, entitlement to the equal social and labour rights regardless of their legal status, and access to justice through free legal aid and rights education. We call upon the ASEAN Member States to immediately stop all forms of oppression against workers who exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly and association, including their right to strike. Additionally, we call upon the ASEAN Member States to ensure minimum wages are living wages and decent work for all workers in ASEAN Countries.
• Recognise sex workers as equal rights bearers for their economic contribution and share in the opportunities and benefits that tourism brings to ASEAN, including but not limited to equal protection under national labour law and freedom from discrimination.
Our region also faces the challenge of [rapid increase in older population due to low fertility rates and improved longevity] and exacerbated social, economic and gender inequalities, due to the impact of globalisation and the Free Trade Agreement. Current unsustainable market or corporate driven economic policies are resulting in negative impacts including the diminution of our natural resources, the rise of greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change, deepening poverty and increased hunger, exacerbated vulnerability for workers both within countries and across borders, lack of social protection and basic services especially among vulnerable and marginalised groups and widespread land grabbing which devastates communities and robs people of their livelihoods, cultural heritage and collective rights, especially those of indigenous peoples. Large-scale investment and development projects, including those in ethnic or indigenous areas, have triggered massive forced displacement and enabled human rights abuses. Civil Society leaders, like Sombath Somphone, who highlight these negative impacts and promoted sustainable participatory development, have been increasingly targeted. We are deeply concerned that the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community will only worsen the situation if it continues with these harmful development policies.
Current development trends in ASEAN are resulting in serious transboundary problems caused by mega-hydropower dams, extractive industries, expansion of large-scale monoculture plantations, climate change, unaccountable corporate investment, and government and military involvement in business. These are having negative impacts on communities and their livelihoods, land, natural resources, water and food sovereignty and security, identity, health and environment, leading to increased conflicts and instability in the region.
The governments of ASEAN have prioritised economic development over a just, equitable and sustainable development model that truly places the people and their wellbeing at the centre. Social protection and basic services are not prioritised and remain limited, non-inclusive and inadequate to ensure peoples’ dignity. The local communities affected by investment and development projects are not provided sufficient relevant information about these projects, are not meaningfully consulted or asked for their consent, and are not able to participate in decision-making processes.
While most ASEAN states have fairly robust legal frameworks governing the core areas of land, natural resources, labour and the environment, enforcement of these laws and regulations remains a challenge. Corruption and lack of transparency and accountability exacerbate negative impacts of development projects and investment on local communities. Militarisation of resource rich areas results in intensified repression in terms of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, land grabbing and displacement of communities.
• Adopt measures to counter the adverse impacts of climate change and globalisation, including an increased focus on education, health, social protection for all, poverty-reduction, food sovereignty and security, pro-people economic institutions, effective regulations and mechanisms to hold governments and companies to account, and to safeguard sustainable development and human rights.
• Establish an Environmental Pillar in ASEAN which includes an independent monitoring mechanism, a regional framework on the transboundary utilisation and sharing of natural resources, protect all peoples’ rights including indigenous peoples’ rights and resolve cross border impacts, stop all destructive hydropower dams and promote sustainable renewable energy alternatives.
• Establish an ASEAN safeguard policy to ensure accountability, transparency and the meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including local communities and indigenous peoples, civil society organisations, and vulnerable and marginalised groups in the design, implementation and monitoring of national and regional investment and development projects and policies in order to protect the rights and wellbeing of all peoples in ASEAN.
• Abide by and ensure compliance of businesses with international best practices including but not limited to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and ISO 26000 to respect the rights of all affected individuals and communities, improve peoples’ living conditions, which involves consulting fully and meaningfully with affected communities, providing fair and suitable compensation and ensuring adequate resettlement sites when people accept to be moved.
• Implement the newly issued rights-based and inclusive ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection with meaningful and substantive participation of civil society, peoples’ and grassroots organisations and individuals.
Democracy literally means “government by the people” through the enjoyment of civil and political freedoms that enable people to govern and determine their own lives. ASEAN, as envisioned in the ASEAN Charter and Community Blueprints, commits itself to promoting “a people-oriented ASEAN” in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building. However in its implementation, this commitment by ASEAN Member States is still far from being achieved. There are still crucial issues in the region that need serious further attention by all ASEAN Member States.
Continued existence of military rule, military sanctions and threats to civilian governments, control of economic resources by military enterprises, as well as defence policies that are non-compliant with rule of law, pose grave challenges to democratisation and democratic transition.
All people, especially vulnerable and marginalised groups, are negatively impacted by ASEAN integration and various domestic challenges and threats relating to democratisation. Such challenges include:
1. Severe restrictions of fundamental freedoms, both online and offline, such as freedom of assembly, association, expression, information and religion;
2. A lack of protection from violence, arrest, imprisonment, and harassment, including the unlawful imprisonment of human rights defenders, activists and union representatives;
3. Impunity and a lack of judicial redress in the absence of the rule of law;
4. A lack of democratic participation, consultation and self-governance;
5. Severe restrictions on land and labour rights as a result of development projects and businesses’ refusal to abide by international standards on business and human rights; and
6. Pervasive corruption and a lack of transparency at all levels of government.
However, civil society across the ASEAN region has achieved many positive results in the face of such challenges. Civil society has successfully employed various advocacy strategies, including solidarity and collaboration between groups, establishing regional networks, information sharing, raising awareness and educating people about their human rights, consultations at local and national levels, engaging in non-violent and legitimate protests, directly lobbying and intervening with businesses, directly engaging with ASEAN Member States, and monitoring human rights abuses and other actions by ASEAN Member States.
Despite these positive efforts by civil society, governments still need to show good will and honour their commitments under the ASEAN Charter and address the issue of democratisation in the ASEAN region.
• End impunity by fully investigating all acts of violence and disappearances, and provide a safe space, both online and offline, and an enabling environment for human rights defenders, journalists, community activists and leaders, and other civil society actors to meaningfully engage with authorities and to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of physical or judicial harassment, arrest, imprisonment, killing or other violence, or restrictions on their fundamental freedoms; and immediate release all political prisoners, human rights defenders, community leaders, union leaders and development workers detained by ASEAN Member States.
• Reform the security sector in all ASEAN governments, with the involvement of civil society in monitoring the reforms, using human rights and women’s rights perspectives, in collaboration with national parliaments to legislate policies consistent with democratisation.
• Establish robust legal frameworks that are in line with international human rights standards and best practices, ratify and implement applicable international instruments, amend or repeal repressive laws, and ensure that all laws and regulations are properly enforced by reformed judiciaries which are independent, competent and non-corrupt, including at the ASEAN level.
• Ensure that all people – especially vulnerable and marginalised groups – are legally recognised, able to enjoy their civil and political rights free from discrimination and prejudice, entitled to self-governance, empowered through access to information and education to participate in and be consulted about important decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods, and enjoy respect, recognition and protection of their freedom, security, dignity, identity and human rights.
General Recommendations and Conclusion
We, the ACSC/APF 2014, mandate the Steering Committee to formulate a flexible and inclusive mechanism to strengthen the ACSC/APF process and ensure continued linkage between the ACSC/APF and ASEAN.
We call on all ASEAN governments to:
• Commit to achieving justice, equality, inclusion and the elimination of all forms of violence so as to bring about sustainable peace and security. This success can only be achieved through the full participation of grassroots peoples and civil society organisations.
• Recognise the diversity of ASEAN people and develop mechanisms for protection of all human rights irrespective of religion, sex, gender, disability, LGBTIQ and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons, ethnicity, race, occupation, political ideology and citizenship. Such mechanisms should be consistent with international law and standards.
• Ensure the independence of the AICHR members as opposed to the current structure of the mechanism as an inter-governmental body. Ensure inclusion of additional human rights protection mandates in the TOR (including provisions that establish the review of the human rights record of ASEAN Member States; enable AICHR to conduct country/on-site visits; and allow AICHR to receive, investigate and address complaints on human rights issues and violations); change/modify the principles of consensus rule and non-interference in AICHR that have resulted in its ineffectiveness. Enable AICHR to establish independent experts (Special Procedures, including Special Rapporteurs), similar to the Special Procedures mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council and other regional mechanisms. These experts shall be independent and not be bound by the consensus rule so that they can effectively implement actual human rights protection work.
• The reviewed TOR must allow for decisions to be reached by a majority in situations where decisions cannot be reached by consensus, especially in addressing and preventing serious human rights violations. Further, the AICHR TOR review should head towards effective cooperation among the different human rights mechanisms and across the different pillars and sectoral bodies of ASEAN to ensure stronger human rights protection in the region.
• Ensure that consultations for the review of ASEAN Blueprints in 2015 are conducted with civil society, peoples’ and grassroots organizations and individuals, and especially vulnerable and marginalised groups, to mitigate any negative impacts on them.
• ASEAN Member States should sign and ratify important international conventions and their Optional Protocols in recognition of the universal, inherent, inalienable and inter-related human rights of all ASEAN people, and their diverse and multiple identities.
• ASEAN Human Rights Institutions including AICHR, ACWC, and ACMW are urged to coordinate their efforts and work together for the promotion and protection of human rights for all.
We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Myanmar civil society and people for hosting the conference, and to the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for its support and cooperation towards ensuring the success of the ACSC/APF 2014.
Recommendations from Workshops
Workshops on Peace
Strengthening Women’s Voices: The Meaning of Political Participation for Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict in ASEAN
- ASEAN through its Member States such as Myanmar to provide enabling conditions for women to meaningfully participate in planning and decision-making processes in ASEAN and in the development of their communities.
- AICHR and ACWC must be able to reflect and address women’s issues on the ground including those in conflict and post-conflict situations.
- ASEAN must urge Member States to organise and capacitate women especially those from the ground to be able to meaningfully participate in all decision-making levels both in public and private spheres.
Youth Empowering for Peace Building in ASEAN
- The Governments of all ASEAN Member States must integrate peace education program both in formal and non-formal education systems at all levels as well as supporting peace initiative activities of youth and civil society organisations (CSOs).
- The ASEAN Governments must establish mechanisms for youth like volunteerism, interethnic dialogue and exchange to fully participate in peace dialogues.
- The Governments must ensure the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of media to promote peace through mainstreaming peace in media and social media.
Challenges in Ceasefire and Peace Process Negotiations in South East Asia Region: Experiences of Peace Practitioners
- ASEAN networking mechanism for peace and reconciliation in the region to take concrete action and responsive for neighbouring countries.
- Government should start planning on the women, peace and security.
- The role of CSOs should be more active and competence tear with strategy and the objective.
The Current Peace and Human Security Situation in ASEAN and Need for Regional Dispute Prevention and Settlement Mechanism
- UNSC 1325 lobby: Adopt a gender perspective that includes the special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.
- Call for the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Body in ASEAN addressing internal strife, intra-state wars and ethnic conflicts, e.g. AIPR.
- Popularise the application of Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principles in conflict prevention strategies.
- Engage the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)
- Call for ASEAN Charter review particularly its Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM).
- Lobby for Independent International Commission of Inquiries (IICI) into alleged crimes against humanity in the region.
Investment in Myanmar: Repetitive Experiences with Other ASEAN Countries?
Challenges for Peace and Self-Determination of Local Communities
- Laws and regulations on cross-border investment need to be established and enforced to provide accountability for social, environmental, and health impacts; conduct EIA and other impact assessments; monitor land concessions, forestry, energy and other projects; ensure the use of best practices; guarantee transparent and participatory decision-making processes; protect a free civil society; empower communities; and protect indigenous rights, including land use security to free prior and informed consent.
- ASEAN should provide a platform to raise common issues around extractive industries, energy projects, land and indigenous rights; provide a space for CSOs and NGOs to have direct, face-to-face meeting with ASEAN governments; and on behalf of Indigenous People Communities in Prome Commune advocating for the return of their land, the ASEAN governments should focus on the protection of indigenous rights in the region.
- Establish an Environmental Pillar in ASEAN to ensure an Independent regional monitoring mechanism, formulate rules on the transboundary utilisation and sharing of natural resources, protect indigenous rights and resolve cross border impacts.
Countering Invisibility: Advancing Women’s Peace and Security in the ASEAN Community
- Create opportunities for substantive participation of civil society, including 50% representation of women, in all ASEAN mechanisms, initiatives and fora. In particular, the ASEAN Political-Security Blueprint is lacking a substantive gender perspective and must recognise that women are disproportionately impacted by militarisation and conflict, and already play significant roles toward ASEAN’s goal of comprehensive security. No peace process will be effective or sustainable without the substantive participation of a broad cross-section of women.
- ASEAN will continue to fail women unless its commitments to promote comprehensive security, rule of law and human rights in ASEAN are given priority over the principle of non-intervention. We urge ASEAN Member States to commit to strengthening the protection mandate of AICHR and ACWC, and to end impunity for violations of women’s human rights.
- ASEAN Member States should demonstrate their commitment to comprehensive security as stated in the ASEAN Political-Security Blueprint by cutting military spending, and ensuring accountable and transparent utilisation of state budgets for community development, including support for grassroots movements for women’s rights, women’s leadership, and community education to counter gender discrimination.
Workshops on Human Rights and Justice
Strengthening Capacity of ASEAN Civil Society to Monitor Security Sector Reform in ASEAN Countries
- Urge security reform in all ASEAN governments to institutionalise civilian control over the military. This can be done through the setting up of a civil society dialogue platform with the ASEAN, on the political and security pillar, especially to ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
- Civil society should have the capacity to monitor the security sector reform in ASEAN using human rights and women’s rights perspectives. They should use this capacity to work with Parliament to legislate policies consistent with democratisation.
- Strengthen cooperation with the media and civil society networks, including regional and international community.
ASEAN Community Free from Violence Against Women
- ASEAN adopt indicators developed by civil society and movements, and partner with civil society, and also promote the role of civil society.
- Indicators should be extensive, ranging from national mechanisms, policies; dedicated budgets on VAW; access to ASEAN instruments, documentations on VAW (translation, availability, distribution, etc); curriculum development, periodic reporting, etc.
- ASEAN to make regional and national level campaigns as a part of realising ‘ASEAN community free from Violence against women’.
The AICHR’s TOR Review: Towards an Effective Human Rights Body in ASEAN
Session 1: Review of AICHR’s TOR – Towards an Independent and Effective Human Rights Body
- To include additional protection mandates in the TOR (including provisions that establish the review of the human rights record of ASEAN Member States; enable AICHR to conduct country/on-site visits; and allow AICHR to receive, investigate and address complaints on human rights issues and violations).
- To change/modify the principles of consensus rule and non-interference in AICHR that have resulted in its effectiveness. The TOR must allow for decision to be reached by a majority in situations where decision cannot be reached by consensus, especially to address or prevent serious human rights violations.
- To enable AICHR to establish independent experts (Special Procedures, including Special Rapporteurs) – similar to the Special Procedures mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council and other regional mechanisms. These experts shall be independent and not be bound by the consensus rule so that they can effectively implement actual human rights protection work.
Session 2: The Review of Terms of Reference for AICHR – How CSOs Deal with this Opportunity?
- AICHR has failed to save life and addressed pressing human rights issues in the region such as personal security and right to life, death penalty, asylum seekers, refugees, rights of minorities, the rights of indigenous peoples, protection of human rights defenders, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of association and freedom of religion or belief. We believe that now, more than before, AICHR’s role to have precautionary measures to avoid serious and irreparable harm to human life and personal integrity; to establish an effective response to emergency situations and early warning systems; are needed to uphold human rights.
- We welcome the process of reviewing the Terms of Reference (TOR) of AICHR in 2014 as one of the evolutionary approaches to make AICHR as a credible, independent and responsive human rights mechanism in the region. In this line, we strongly recommend that the “I” in the AICHR to be changed from “Inter-governmental” into “Independent. We also call for AICHR to involve civil society, victims and wider stakeholders in a series of genuine dialogues and consultations in assessing the work of AICHR, reviewing the TOR and formulating the amendment of the TOR.
- Four years in its existence, AICHR has suffered from lack of credibility due to lack of protection mandate, independency, and transparency. We are concerned that AICHR has less priority to implement the mandate 4.10 on “To obtain information from ASEAN Member States in the promotion and protection of human rights”, and 4.11 on “To develop common approaches and positions on human rights matters of interests to ASEAN”.
The Bottom of ASEAN
- We call upon the ASEAN Member States to immediately stop all forms of oppression against workers who exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly, including their right to strike.
- We call upon the ASEAN Member States to ensure minimum wages are living wages and improve all working conditions for ASEAN Countries. This includes abiding by the following: OHS regulations, 8-hour working day, 40 hours of work a week, paid maternity leave, regular long-term contracts.
- We call upon investors to abide by international labour standards and adhere to international standards on corporate respect for human rights (UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights) in addition to self-regulating codes of conducts and/or business/ethical principles.
Equality, Democracy and Justice in ASEAN = SOGIE Inclusion in the ASEAN
- Immediately repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalise SOGI, recognise LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonise national laws, policies and practices with the United Nations human rights Treaties and the Yogyakarta Principles.
- Establish national level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (e.g. AICHR, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.
- Depathologise SOGI and promote psychosocial well being of people of diverse SOGI in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and ensure equal access to health and social services.
- Integration of SOGIE in all rights based policy.
Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children on the Move in ASEAN
- Promote and protect the rights of “Children on the Move”, (such as children from indigenous peoples’ communities, refugee children, children of migrant parents, street children, stateless children, trafficked children), by ensuring their non-discrimination, gathering information to determine their situation, promoting their access to basic services and legal protection, provision of alternative care, and protection from all forms of abuses.
- For ASEAN Member States to sign and ratify important international conventions such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC), The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC) and The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) and ensure their effective implementation.
- For ASEAN Human Rights Institutions (e.g., AICHR, ACWC, ACMW) coordinate their efforts and work together for the promotion and protection of the rights of children in ASEAN.
- Urge Member States to increase public spending to realise children’s rights by ensuring that children are adequately provided with education, health, nutrition and protection from all forms of violence.
Sex Work & ASEAN
- Sex workers as equal rights bearers of ASEAN must be recognised for their economic contribution and share in the opportunities and benefits tourism brings to ASEAN. This includes but is not limited to equal protection under national labour law as applies to other workers.
Without ASEAN Women, No Genuine ASEAN Community 2015
- Recognise the diverse of ASEAN people and protect their rights including the one who are vulnerable and marginalised, among others, people in informal sector, people with disability, domestic workers.
- Develop measures into that direction, among others, creation of labour laws that are not weaker than the ILO labour standards; peace with truth reconciliation for post-conflict count; develop ASEAN Periodic review process like the one of UN Universal Periodic Report, not country based on issue based; ensure rights to reproduction; revise poverty line and minimum and living wage.
- People in ASEAN should be united to foster a development of ASEAN based on their needs and interests.
Ecological Child Rights in Southeast Asia
- ASEAN’s leaders should recognise the environment as a new pillar (Fourth pillar on environment) in addition to the three major pillars of ASEAN cooperation.
- The state of ASEAN countries should enforce all laws against the abuse of ecological child rights in the country.
- ASEAN and Member States should promote the children’s right to information and participation in decision-making, and freedom of opinion and expression on the issues of environmental.
Envisioning an SRHR-Embracing ASEAN Community for Young People’s Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Information & Services for Adolescents and Youth
- We call upon the ASEAN Member States to demonstrate stronger commitments to improving the status of all young people’s sexual and reproductive health through the provision of Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly Services. Young people in the ASEAN are diverse and thus information and services for their sexual and reproductive health and rights should accommodate the needs for all young people regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, geographical location, citizenship status, sexual orientation and gender identity, employment and economic status, religious and cultural beliefs, and other societal norms, physical and mental health status, political views, etc.
Labour Rights and Migrant Workers
- ASEAN member countries should recognise the right to organise trade unions and association under their national labour laws for all workers including migrant workers (particularly domestic workers must be recognised).
- The origin (sending) countries should deliver relevant comprehensive information to potential migrant workers on the working and living conditions, laws and procedures, rights and responsibilities of migrant workers. The government should also take steps to effectively promote safe migration including info on repatriation processes.
- ASEAN Member States should agree on cross border legal cooperation to allow migrant workers and their families to file cases for violation of rights in the country that the violation took place. The migrant worker should be given free legal aid and allowed to work pending disposal of the case or allowed to return to his/her country of origin and return as needed to participate in the legal proceedings.
Forced Migration in South East Asia
- ASEAN should address the root causes of forced migration at countries of origin, which includes gross human violations and freedom of speech, association and expression.
- Repatriation of refugees should be voluntary, with dignity and done with the active participation and reflect the views of refugee communities.
- ASEAN should implement ASEAN Human Rights Declaration regarding the right to seek asylum and the right to nationality by enacting domestic laws.
- ASEAN Member States should develop mechanisms to protect refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, which are consistent with international law. Ensure, that no one is returned to a situation where they may face persecution.
- ASEAN should take immediate steps to expeditiously and completely end the detention of children and their families on the basis of their immigration status.
- ASEAN should explore and implement child-sensitive alternatives to detention for children and their families.
Freedom of Religion or Belief: The Role of Regional Human Rights Bodies and Civil Society
- ASEAN should give strong attention on protection of freedom of religion or belief in the region as stated on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Article 22, including also to ensure that all of ASEAN’s policies comply with the FoRB and the implementation these rights at the national level and take actions toward all of form discriminations, intolerances and violence based on religion or belief.
- ASEAN governments and societies, including NGOs, CSOs, media community, cleric/religious leaders, are encouraged to mainstream freedom of religion or belief to build a common perception of the importance of guaranteeing freedom of religion in ASEAN to create a more peaceful and just society and a more stable region.
- ASEAN Member States should recognise all of religious or belief groups in the each country respectively, especially the minority groups, and guarantee the freedom every person to adopts, converts, and manifests his/her religion or belief.
- AICHR is encouraged to create a focal point on FoRB to monitor and evaluate progress on the advancement of FoRB in all Member States relating to the implementation of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Article 22.
- ASEAN should encourage the Member States and cooperate with them to resolve all of the of human rights abuses which have impacted on enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief in each country, such as indigenous people, traditional groups, ethnic or racial minorities.
- Government whose laws restrict the rights to FoRB by requiring believes to choose among a list of government-organised and/or government-supervised religion, and/or by prohibiting religious belief or expression that the government regards as contrary to the public interest, should immediately repeal such law and release all of religious believes who are detained pursuant to them.
- Strengthening ASEAN AICHR’s role on protection of freedom of religion or belief in ASEAN and utilise its mandates/function to ensure the enjoyment of FoRB in ASEAN.
Workshops on Development
Climate Vulnerability and Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change: Cases from ASEAN Countries
- ASEAN to establish a strategy and a strong position on climate change, both mitigation and adaptation, based on common but differentiated responsibilities, climate justice, gender balanced and meaningful and inclusive people’s participation.
- ASEAN to establish a Climate Change Fund with more focus on adaptation.
- ASEAN to ensure the dialogues between governments and CSOs and communities on climate change issues.
Hydropower Dams in the Major Rivers of ASEAN: Experiences from Mekong to Salween
- Establish an ASEAN Environmental Pillar to ensure the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations; create mechanisms for environmental and human rights issues to stop destructive hydropower development projects and oversee transboundary issues including international rivers like the Mekong and Salween Rivers and their tributaries such as the 3S Rivers; put into place decision-making frameworks that are based on equity, efficiency, participatory decision making, sustainability, accountability; ensure effective consultation and participatory decision-making processes; and support the promotion of renewable energy alternatives that are truly sustainable and the use of more public money for a diverse investment in renewable energy options, rather than prioritising large-scale development projects like hydropower dams.
- Call for the immediate stop to all the large-scale hydropower dams on the Mekong and Salween Rivers and other international rivers and their tributaries.
- Promote transboundary mechanisms and dialogue on energy projects, including the mechanism for all countries relying on Salween River and the required use of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and transboundary EIAs (TEIAs) that consider impacts to the entire river basin prior to the start of projects, and enforce the ASEAN Agreement of 1995 covering transboundary effects.
Social Protection for All
- The ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection should be implemented by the member countries with the meaningful participation of civil society in the design, implementation and monitoring.
- Social protection should simultaneously address issues of economic, social, environmental and climate justice by setting up national and ASEAN mechanisms to build sustainable and resilient communities as well as to strengthen solidarity across ASEAN.
- ASEAN countries should prioritise the allocation of adequate financial resources, up to a certain percentage of GDP, for social protection and look at it as investment in people and not a burden.
Land Grabbing in ASEAN: Situation and Solutions of CSOs and Local Network
- ASEAN Member States must formulate laws and legal mechanisms that protect and support rights of small-scale agricultural producers, fisherfolk, local communities, etc.; and which will provide them with justiceable, effective remedy against impunity, manipulation of justice system and power abuses. Laws too that will limit land possession size (land ceiling): come up with local-national-regional processes for land governance. There should also be legal and institutional mechanisms that will hold investors (state and private) liable and accountable, punishable; there should be no impunity, no escape clause etc.; but affected communities have to be satisfied with soft law-voluntary mechanisms; even when laws protect them on paper, these laws are ignored/violated. In some countries, laws being changed to make land transfers legal and formalise customary land tenure, access to forest and fisheries to bring them into markets.
- AICHR should take immediate action on HR violations on cross boundary investments. It should recognise and upheld the power of small scale producers and local communities to negotiate with contractors, investors, states; and right to access timely information; the right to manage lands, forests, eco-systems, to make decisions about land-forest-eco-system governance, the right to say “no”.
- ASEAN Member States and ASEAN as body should regulate and discipline markets and market actors; including large companies, finance companies and also IFIs.
Vision for Extractive Industries Governance for ASEAN
- We call on ASEAN to adopt an ASEAN Extractive Industries Governance Framework which should ensure that:
- The exploitation of extractive resources endowment in ASEAN Member States generate a just and equitable development for all ASEAN people, especially affected communities,
- Extractive industries respect human rights, nature and promote social, economic justice, and investment in human development,
- Mechanisms to guarantee fair contract, transparent and accountable revenues collection and spending for people exist, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and other social accountability standards,
- Government and companies are accountable in the making of investment and trading of energy and mineral commodities.
- We also call for meaningful participation and engagement of civil society in the ASEAN cooperation related to energy and mining to support the vision of ASEAN in becoming a people-centered ASEAN.
Communities Front and Centre: Exploring Solutions and Remedies for Business-Related Human Rights Abuses
- ASEAN governments should enact policies and laws to ensure that communities are informed and consulted on projects that affect them, and that they are able to participate in decision-making processes.
- All laws and policies that repress community action and participation in development projects should be abolished; business and government should stop resorting to harassment tactics such as defamation lawsuits and arbitrary arrests against communities that are peacefully trying to protect their rights.
- ASEAN governments and businesses should establish effective remedial mechanisms, whether judicial or non-judicial, to make sure that communities have access formal systems when they face human rights abuse. Efforts must be exerted to ensure that these mechanisms are implemented well. On a regional level, the AICHR should be strengthened to be able to concretely address human rights cases brought before it.
- ASEAN governments should encourage and not impede citizens’ movements for human rights and environmental protection. Civil society, on the other hand, should continue their active work of seeking accountability, while continuing to explore – within their countries and regionally – alternative justice and accountability systems. An example is the current proposal in Myanmar to form citizens’ juries for environmental cases to increase pressure on companies to operate responsibly.
Workshops on Democratisation
Freedom of Expression, Privacy and Women’s Human Rights in Evolving Digital Information Societies
- ASEAN governments need to be proactive in ensuring people’s access to the media and information, and to provide for an enabling environment for independent and community media to operate.
- Call upon all ASEAN Member States to respect and adhere to the resolutions added by the UN General Assembly in bringing an end to impunity killing of journalists and human rights defenders.
- Call upon ASEAN Member States to ensure women’s access to justice including guarantee of protections to vulnerable groups in cyber space.
- Call upon ASEAN to involve individuals, communities and CSOs in the drafting and coming up with guidelines for implementation of the ASEAN Connectivity Plan.
The ASEAN Experience: Violence Against Women and Legal Reform
- Adopt, amend, and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, in line with international human rights standards.
- Adopt, implement and resource multi-sectoral national plans of action that emphasise prevention.
- Carry out research, data collection and analysis on the nature and prevalence of various forms of violence against women and girls.
- Establish national and/or local campaigns and engage a diverse range of civil society actors in preventing violence and in supporting women and girls who experience violence.
- Systematically address and protect women and girls from rape and sexual violence in conflict situations.
Situation of Indigenous Peoples in the ASEAN
- For ASEAN Member States to review their own national legal framework with a view of providing legal recognition to indigenous peoples and incorporating provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), especially to the right to lands, territories and resources, to self- governance, and cultural integrity, in their national instruments while at the same time repealing/ revising laws and policies that are not consistent with the UNDRIP.
- For ASEAN Member States to immediately implement the requirement for the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous communities in relation to any developments in their territories.
- For the AICHR to strengthen its mandate to include the establishment of special procedures that will pave the way for designation a focal person for indigenous issues in the AICHR towards the formation of a Working Group that would look into the issues and concerns of Indigenous Peoples.
Promoting Inclusive and Responsible Business: Experiences of Myanmar, Singapore and Across ASEAN
- In line with the state duty to protect, as outlined in the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and ratified international conventions, ASEAN Member States should take steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress business-related human rights abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication, and promote international standards and best practices through a common framework.
- ASEAN Member States should develop and transparently implement regulatory frameworks on land and land tenancy, which are consistent with The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security to address the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisition for agricultural and extractive industries across the region. Development of such frameworks should be in close consultation with business enterprises and civil society specifically taking into account long-term impact on the communities concerned.
- In line with ASEAN Member States’ obligations under the Convention against Corruption, Member States should redouble efforts to combat corruption at the national and ASEAN level, and engage both business and civil society in these efforts. This should include greater transparency of business contracts in land and extractives, providing a supportive environment of the media to pursue their essential role in exposing corruption, and prosecution of those involved in corrupt practices.
Building Cross-Movement Alliances for Food Sovereignty, Ending Poverty and SRHR in the ASEAN
- Given the status of uneven progress on SRHR in the ASEAN, governments must show political commitment and provide sustained financial investments to ensure SRHR for all, including women, young people, people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expression, people with disabilities, migrants, displaced peoples, sex workers, indigenous peoples, and other marginalised groups. These include reviewing, amending and implementing laws and policies to uphold human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and ensuring universal access to comprehensive, affordable, quality, gender-sensitive health services at all stages and across all locations, to achieve the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health; services include contraception; safe abortion services; services to ensure maternal health and nutrition; diagnostic and treatment services for STIs, HIV, infertility and reproductive cancers; counselling; and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
- Pursue a common policy of food sovereignty, and increase investment in rural infrastructure, technology, research, education for small-scale farmers, including women. Review and rescind unjust free trade agreements; put an immediate stop to land grabbing; provide equitable access to and control of water and land; promote sustainable agricultural practices, regulate investments in agriculture and implement a truly just land reform and administration program to secure land rights and tenure of peasants, fishers and indigenous peoples. Develop cooperation among agriculture producers in the region and consumers; pursue sustainable agriculture to address resource degradation arising from monocropping and the impacts of climate change. Lastly, ensure the right to and access to adequate, culturally appropriate, nutritious and safe food for all.
- Support development of intersectional analyses and research on food sovereignty, poverty and SRHR. Ensure meaningful engagement of civil society in shaping the future of ASEAN, and create platforms for cross-movement alliance building.
ASEAN Democracy in Crisis
- Independent ASEAN Human Rights Court
- Independent ASEAN electoral Process Committee
- Human rights monitoring mechanisms
- Effort to democratise economic policy
- Efforts to insure press freedom
Human Rights Defenders’ Protection and Advocacy Strategies in ASEAN
- Governments should establish more legal protections for HRDs – including ratifying all relevant international instruments – amend or repeal oppressive domestic laws, ensure proper legal enforcement and implementation of laws and establish an independent non-corrupt judiciary to ensure the rule of law; they should also establish independent and effective complaints mechanisms such as human rights national institutes including at the ASEAN level.
- Governments should ensure that businesses invest responsibly to improve peoples’ living conditions rather than abusing their rights, consult fully with affected communities, and ensure that no one is forcibly evicted and that adequate resettlement sites are provided – especially in the context of globalisation and increase corporate activities at the ASEAN level.
- Governments should ensure a safe and free space for civil society – including at the regional ASEAN level – so that trade unions, land rights activists and other human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of harassment, arrest, imprisonment, killings and other forms of violence.
The Human Rights and Security Costs of ASEAN’s Economic Growth
- ASEAN civil society must force all ASEAN Member States to protect the rights and security of people, in their own countries and also across the region; whether or not people have citizenship or legal papers, people are people and their lives must be valued.
- Legal and justice reforms:
- ASEAN countries must ratify and implement the UN Conventions on Enforced Disappearance and torture.
- The ASEAN Charter must be amended to make them compliant with HR standards and to make it meaningful for people of the regions.
- Martial law must be prohibited; national security should not undermine human security.
- AICHR must be reformed to become a body with legal teeth that investigates cases of rights abuses/violations, and takes decisive action against perpetrators; AICHR must become accessible to ordinary people as a place where they can get justice.
- All those affected by large investments – domestic and trans border, regardless of origin of investment – must have access to timely effective remedy.
- International Financial Institutions (IFIs), private financiers, corporations must legally adhere to high legal standards and be subject to national laws; they must be held legally responsible for violations of rights arising from or associated with projects, programmes, policies and investments that they are involved in.
Youth Challenges in the ASEAN
- Strongly demand for the recognition and adoption of the Yangon Declaration (ASEAN Youth Statement 2014) in the development framework of the ASEAN Community; Review of the ASEAN Blueprint.
- Strongly demand for the meaningful and active participation of young people in all sectors and processes, with emphasis on young vulnerable groups (genuine democratic consultation, sufficient funding allocation and distribution, promotion and protection of their rights and freedoms).
- Strongly demand for the recognition of and support for an independent and autonomous ASEAN youth institution that will meaningfully monitor and work for a transparent, accountable, accessible, non-discriminating, people-centred, sexuality embracing, rights/equality based regional community.