Largest-ever ASEAN civil society conference urges regional governments to establish human rights protection mechanisms

Press release

Paris, Rangoon, 25 March 2014: ASEAN leaders must listen to the voices of civil society and grassroots organizations in the region, FIDH and its member organization ALTSEAN-Burma said at the conclusion of the 10th ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF), which was held in Rangoon from 21 to 23 March 2014

The Burmese people’s massive and enthusiastic participation in the ACSC/APF after decades of struggle against brutal oppression marks an important page in the history of ASEAN. However, much more needs to be done in Burma and in the rest of ASEAN to address crucial human rights challenges,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. ASEAN governments must realize that only by listening to the opinions of their people and civil society can they achieve regional peace and stability and respect for justice and the rule of law,” Mr. Lahidji added.

Over 3,000 individuals and delegates from grassroots and civil society organizations from ASEAN and beyond participated in the three-day event, the first-ever held in Burma and the largest since the first ACSC/APF held in Malaysia in 2005.

The ACSC/APF comprised five plenary sessions in which panelists discussed ASEAN-related issues on globalization and its challenges, ASEAN integration in 2015, and Burma’s transition. Delegates participated in 35 thematic workshops that focused on peace, development, justice and human rights, and democratization. Each workshop produced a set of recommendations, which formed the basis for the conference’s draft statement that was presented to the participants in the final plenary session to allow delegates to comment and recommend edits before its adoption.

The final statement called on all ASEAN governments to develop mechanisms for protection of all human rights, irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, occupation, political ideology, and citizenship.

ACSC/APF delegates actively discussed a broad range of issues. However, there were two main issues that resonated among participants – land confiscation and corruption. These are critical challenges that regional governments must urgently address in the lead up to the establishment of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community,”
said Debbie Stothard, ALTSEAN-Burma Coordinator and FIDH Secretary-General. Without comprehensive institutional and legislative reforms to address these issues, the situation for ordinary people will be worse than it is now,” she added.

Press contacts

Debbie Stothard (English) - Tel: +66 81 6861652 (Rangoon)
Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 88 6117722 (Bangkok)
Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris)
Audrey Couprie (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris)

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