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SAPA enhances modality and mechanism

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Due to the expansion of the Solidarity for Asian People's Advocacy (SAPA) membership, FORUM-ASIA presented its proposal on the need to formalize the network's modalities and mechanisms to facilitate better communication and coordination among members emerged. Rashid Kang attended the meeting in Singapore on 25 June 2006.

Due to the expansion of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) membership, the need to formalize the network’s modalities and mechanisms to facilitate better communication and coordination among members emerged.

As one of the key conveners of the network, FORUM-ASIA proposed a formalisation of SAPA modalities and mechanisms to improve communication and coordination among its members. A draft proposal on SAPA modalities was presented in its meeting in Singapore on 25 June, for further consultation among SAPA members.

The proposal suggested a reaffirmation of SAPA’s history, values and principles; a formation of a SAPA regional steering committee (RSC); geographical priorities for South Asia, South East Asia and North East Asia; modalities for creation of new working groups; membership criteria as well as engagement with academe, trade unions, donors and international NGOs; emailing list policy; and online collaborative platform.

While preparations for a general SAPA meeting to discuss major issues of the draft are being undertaken, priorities remain focused on a collective program to engage the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on an ASEAN Charter, the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) and the ASEAN Peoples’ Assembly (APA).

Since it was first convened in February 2006, the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) network has evolved into two active e-groups. The first is the general SAPA e-group which now consists of 120 members comprising of major regional and national NGOs and networks with substantive international and regional advocacy programs, while another is an e-group for the SAPA working group (WG) on ASEAN. The latter was initiated in April and now comprises 70 members, mostly NGOs who have specific interest on ASEAN advocacy.

As a growing platform for regional advocacy, SAPA identified a need to enhance its role in the facilitation of consultation, cooperation and coordination among Asian civil society organizations that engage specific international, regional and sub-regional inter- governmental processes and institutions. The group agreed that such enhancement should also allow for new partnerships and new interaction among groups and networks that never worked with each other before.

There are currently national and regional NGO networks and coalitions working on sectoral issues (such as women, children, indigenous peoples, minorities, migrant workers, refugees, internally displaced persons, workers, farmers) and thematic issues (such as debt, development, environment, human rights). There are also academic practitioners, small entrepreneurs and trade unions that need to be reached. The question was how to provide a platform for cross linkage between these groups at different levels and with various agendas for the common target inter-governmental processes that had been increasing recently in the region.