The 13th ASEAN Summit on 21 November 2007 threatens to become nothing more than a tragic farce, as ASEAN's leaders plan the grand signing of a Charter for ASEAN which they have long touted as a means of keeping ASEAN relevant, and making good on their vision of a "community of caring societies".
The timeliness of yesterday's scheduled meeting in New York of ASEAN's foreign ministers with the drafters of ASEAN's Charter can hardly be overstated. As ASEAN's elites continue to talk amongst themselves over the possible inclusion of reference to human rights and a human rights mechanism in the upcoming Charter, it is left largely to governments outside of South East Asia to propose concrete action to prevent a potential human rights catastrophe unfolding within its member country of Burma.
The 13th ASEAN Summit on 21 November 2007 threatens to become nothing more than a tragic farce, as ASEAN's leaders plan the grand signing of a Charter for ASEAN which they have long touted as a means of keeping ASEAN relevant, and making good on their vision of a "community of caring societies".1
In ASEAN's landmark 1997 ASEAN Vision 2020, leaders jointly declared that, "We envision our nations being governed with the consent and greater participation of the people with its focus on the welfare and dignity of the human person and the good of the community."2
No situation could highlight more clearly how far ASEAN stands from achieving this vision. With people in Burma being beaten and arrested as they peacefully protest against a military dictatorship that shows disdain for their welfare and dignity, ASEAN appears powerless to act.
With the potential for change seemingly hanging in the balance, the people of Burma, the people of ASEAN, and the wider international community demand more than just words from ASEAN member states. With the economic support and opportunities provided by ASEAN member states helping the Generals to build up an army capable of suppressing the will of the Burmese people, ASEAN has a responsibility to act, even if this threatens to harm their short-term economic interests.
More specifically, FORUM-ASIA urges ASEAN to:
1 ASEAN Vision 2020 (1997), available on the official website of ASEAN Secretariat at:
Sources and Relevant Links:
Signing of the ASEAN Charter Set to Become a Tragic Farce
28 September 2007