For 20 years, the Asia-Europe People’s Forum, has been a strategic gathering of Asian and European civil society networks pursuing democracatisation and human rights, and social, economic and climate justice.
AEPF11 held on 4th to 6th July in Ulaanbaatar was honoured by the full support and presence of the President of Mongolia and Chair of ASEM who stressed at the opening session, the importance of people’s participation in realizing inclusive and sustainable development.
Under the main theme “Building New Solidarities: Working for Inclusive, Just and Equal Alternatives in Asia and Europe,” 750 citizens from civil society, trade unions, academics and some parliamentarians from 42 countries engaged in constructive exchanges, and adopted the AEPF11 Final Declaration that we respectfully submit to the 11th ASEM Summit. We share four main points.
Firstly,we raise urgent concerns that human rights defenders and citizens face in countries where democratic space is shrinking like Kem Ley in Cambodia and Gloria Capitan in the Philippines:
One, the enforced disappearance, almost 4 years ago, of AEPF9 main co-organiser Sombath Somphone. We urge the Lao PDR Government to complete its investigation, make public the result, and take forward appropriate legal actions against those responsible for his disappearance. Please return Sombath safely to his friends and family.
Two, we ask ASEM members to exert significant pressure on the military regime in Thailand to restore human rights including freedom of speech and assembly the right to campaign on the constitutional referendum, and to return democracy to the people.
Secondly, what has been presented as a ‘financial crisis’ is actually multi-faceted and interlinked crises – food, energy climate, social and human security, and ecological destruction – that are devastating the lives of millions across Asia and Europe.
We met at a time of growing inequalities, injustices and turmoil world-wide. There was a strong consensus at AEPF11 that the dominant development approach over the last decades - based around deregulation of markets, trade liberalisation, the privatisation of essential services and resources - has failed to meet peoples’ needs and rights, and contributed to climate change with its catastrophic consequences. This development approach has caused massive joblessness, exploitation and informalisation of labour, hunger, lack of basic services and social security, and the plunder of natural commons for the benefit of an extreme minority. These give rise to exclusion, polarisation, racism, xenophobia, terrorism, armed conflicts, and people’s displacement and migration.
Transnational corporations and multilateral institutions have become even more powerful, gaining significant control over our lives, leading to a hollowing out of democratic accountability and contributing to making the financial system so unregulated and unaccountable. Corporations must therefore adopt democratic mechanisms and respect human rights.
This development approach needs to be transformed – to go beyond endless growth and relentless capital accumulation – so that peoples can live freely in peace and dignity, restore their relationship with nature, and renew solidarity amongst peoples and nations. The need for change is urgent and fundamental.
Thirdly, we urge governments to heed the People’s Visions and urgent demands including:
Finally, at this critical juncture, States with political will, to put people’s welfare at the center of policy-making are a must. ASEM in its 20th year has an historic opportunity to encourage governments to take bold steps and work together with civil society in realizing peoples’ alternatives towards a multi-polar, inclusive, just, equal, and ecologically sustainable world. Please, seize this opportunity.
July 4th, 2016: The final Programme for AEPF11 is now available. Please refer to the attached pdf file.
We expect more than 300 participants from Mongolia, and at least 180 participants from other parts of Asia and from Europe. Parallel to AEPF 11 there will be other interesting events like the 'International Conference on Social Protection and ASEM 2016: Achieving Social Security for All in Asia and Europe'.
The main venues for the AEPF 11 events will be the State Palace/Government House and the National University nearby. Accommodation is available within walking distance. So it will be a locally very centralised event.
July 15, 2016: "All the feedback that I received was very positive", writes Anuradha Chenoy, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, who as rapporteur for AEPF11 submitted her report today. "The voices I heard stated: 'Very useful'; 'learnt a lot despite years of activism'. Some activists said that 'We came out of our bubble' and 'got many new ideas'. There was talk that activists learnt how to make recommendations to policy makers and also to engage with each other 'to resolve our differences' and many said that they heard completely 'new debates'. Overall it was felt that 'such spaces as the AEPF are indispensable for building struggles and retaining civil space'." See the full report of the 11th AEPF, Ulan Bator, Mongolia, 4-6th July, 2016
July 19, 2016: The 'Ulaanbaatar Final Declaration and Action Plans' of AEPF 11, which has been presented to ASEM summit on July 15, 2016 by representatives of the International Organising Committee of AEPF and the Mongolian National Organising Committee of AEPF11, is now online.
AEPF11 is financially supported by the ASEM Dialogue Facility of the European Commission and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Update of this Website for AEPF11 has been made possible by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Germany.
The views at the AEPF11 and in its related documents are those of the participating organisations.