25 August 2007, the Singapore Working Group for ASEAN's Forum was an initiative to promote interest on the ASEAN Charter process. More then 50 concern individuals and members of civil society groups participated in the forum.
The draft ASEAN Charter contains 12 chapters and has provisions for a human rights body, the 40th ASEAN Ministers Meeting (AMM) in Manila formally announced on July 30. The final draft of the ASEAN Charter is likely to be submitted in the first week of September and a special ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting is scheduled in Singapore.
ASEAN member countries will become more responsive, rules-based, and people-centered organization that will ensure honoring of obligations and be held responsible.
The top priority for the 10 ASEAN countries until 2015 will be building the ASEAN community, reduction of the economic and poverty development gap among member countries. Half of ASEAN lives in Poverty about 250 million people make less than US$2 a day.
This civil society consultation provides the space for direct people-to-people exchanges and participation in the process of understanding and contributing towards a people-centred ASEAN Charter. There is a need to challenge the "ASEAN Way" through greater civil society involvement, emphasizing the need to publish the draft ASEAN Charter and encourage governments to consultant the people.
The High Level Task Force (HLTF)
Adopted the following guidelines on the drafting of the Charter:
1. It is a visionary and inspiring document. Brief and comprehensive. The Charter is an enabling instrument of ASEAN;
2. Written in clear and unequivocal statements;
3. Flexible in order to allow it to adapt to changing circumstances;
4. Be people-oriented;
5. The basis of a cohesive and rules-based intergovernmental organization of ASEAN;
6. A legal framework that will bind all of the Member States to compliance.
The HLTF is composed of five ASEAN senior officials, two ASEAN directors general and three former ambassadors.
DRAFT ASEAN CHARTER: What's in it?
- promotes respect of fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights and the promotion of social justice
- provision for the creation of a human rights body in the region
- promote rule of law, good governance and democratic principles
- promotes free trade and economic integration and the narrowing of economic development gap
- incorporates treaty banning nuclear weapons in the region
- shield the region from nuclear arms, other weapons of mass destruction and external interference.
- provides legal identity to ASEAN for international negotiations and transactions
- ASEAN Summit composed of the heads of state is highest policy-making body that will meet twice a year, and could deal with emergencies
- principle of non-interference in members' domestic affairs
- August 8 as ASEAN day
- Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. May accept an 11th member, East Timor
- may provide for a "Asean minus x" formula, successfully used for Asean economic and trade agreements, where two or more countries may proceed with an agreed treaty or understanding
- may provide for a voting system, besides maintaining the use of consensus to tackle certain issues
Sources and Relevant Links:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies THE ASEAN CHARTER: AN OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE MISSED
Forum Asia 40th Anniversary Highlights the Need to Set ASEAN on a New Path 06 August 2007
Forum Asia ASEAN Workshop Highlights Need for Greater Civil Society Involvement 26 July 2007
Manila Bulletin Civil society and ASEAN: The ASEAN Charter 31 July 2006
ASEAN declaration to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers
The declaration defined the major obligations of ASEAN countries to protect them. These include ensuring the workers' access to services in the country where they work, their training and education, their social- welfare benefits, the adequate and prompt payment of wages, and decent working and living conditions.