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Building solidarity across Asia and Europe

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The 6th Asia-Europe People's Forum concluded with a final declaration themed "People's Vision: Building Solidarity Across Asia and Europe – Towards a Just, Equal and Sustainable World". About 450 women and men from all across Asia and Europe attended the event and jointly organised solidarity campaigns.The 6th Asia-Europe People’s Forum concluded with a final declaration themed “People's Vision: Building Solidarity Across Asia and Europe – Towards a Just, Equal and Sustainable World”.

Over 450 women and men representing people’s organisations from Asian and European countries gathered at the 6th Asia-Europe People’s Forum held in Helsinki from September 3rd -6th 2006. FORUM-ASIA was represented by executive director Anselmo Lee, consultant Chalida Tajaroensuk and programme associate Pokpong Lawansiri.

In the declaration, participants pledged their support for the promotion of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as agreed in international human rights and humanitarian law; promotion of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable patterns of development; greater economic and social equity and justice including equality between men and women, and active participation of people’s organisations and networks in the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM).

ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together 25 countries and the European Commission. Participants to the ASEM include the Heads of State and Government of ten Asian nations ( Brunei Darussalam, China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam ) and fifteen European nations ( Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom ), as well as the President of the European Commission [for more information, please see ].

Meanwhile, participants at the AEFP demanded that the ASEM process recognise and respond to people’s needs and rights and become more transparent and accountable to national parliaments.

“The AEPF’s purpose is to engage and advocate for change in Asia and Europe, including in the overall ASEM process and to reflect social issues and people’s concerns,” said the declaration.

“The alternatives proposed by the AEPF stand in opposition to the current paradigm of globalisation dominated by Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and by governments and international institutions which are increasingly serving corporate interests,” it added.

Issued on 6 September 2006, the declaration stated its reflection on 10 years of ASEM, and also made several recommendations, which included calling on Asian and European Heads of State and Government to reorient themselves towards a social dimension of ASEM that protects and promotes the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, as agreed in international human rights and humanitarian law, of all citizens in Asia and Europe, including rights to Decent Work, Essential Public Services and those of Migrant Workers. These must be based on the promotion of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable patterns of development.

It also proposed that the mechanisms should be established and/or strengthened to enable regular and systematic scrutiny of ASEM by all national parliaments and a systematic dialogue with ministries of national governments. The AEPF should be recognised as an independent Forum having a legitimate role in the ASEM process both at national and regional levels.

In a related event, the rising concerns in Burma were also raised during the forum, since Nyan Win, the Burma’s foreign minister attended the event. Many NGOs and civil society organisations opposed the action by the EU, despite their claim to put the Burmese issue into the ASEM meeting. However, the Burmese representatives, namely from the Asia-Pacific Peoples Partnership on Burma (APPPB), where FORUM-ASIA is a member; and National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), was able to engage with Finland’s foreign minister, to keep the Burmese issue within ASEM.

“The issue on Burma was raised clearly on the statement on Burma, which is a great achievement for the Burmese NGOs. No other issue is being directly on the statement”, claims Kyaw Thura, the representative from APPPB.

Lastly, FORUM-ASIA has co-organised several events during the AEPF, namely:

  1. .Southeast Asia : a Human Rights Hotspot Today (Human Rights Trends in Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and West Papua/ Indonesia) – organised with Institute for Popular Democracy, Philippines and TAPOL, Indonesia, 4 September 2006
  2. Workshop on Burma: Asian- European People Partnership for Burma, 5 September 2006
  3. Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Minorities, 6 September 2006
  4. Inter-regionalism, focus on ASEM-AEPF, 6 September 2006
  5. Solidarity Campaigns on Burma, Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand, 8 September 2006

For more information on the event, please go to and the final declaration is at