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October 2008: Asia-Europe People's Forum 7 in China

Beijing, 13-15 October 2008, Dragon Spring Hotel

1. Background

2. AEPF 7 program

3. About IOC

4. About AEPF 7 NOC

5. AEPF 7 Final Declaration



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1. BACKGROUND

1.1. History of AEPF I- VI

Parallel to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) has been held for six times. The following is a brief introduction of the history of the past AEPFs.

I AEPF 1996

The first Asia-Europe People’s Forum was held in Bangkok on February 27-29, 1996, and was called the first Joint Asia-Europe NGO Conference then. The current name Asia-Europe People’s Forum was adopted in 1997. The theme is “Beyond Geo-politics and Geo-Economics: Towards a New Relationship between Asia and Europe”. Over 350 representatives from 100 people’s organizations and NGOs participated in this conference and submitted a final document entitled Recommendations to the ASEM from the Asia Europe NGO Conference on the Future of Asian European Nations to ASEM 1.

II AEPF 1998

The second Asia-Europe People’s Forum, with the theme “ASEM and Crisis: People’s Realities and People’s Responses”, took place in London on March 31-April 1, 1998 . Over 300 representatives from more than 150 civil society groups in the world attended this forum.

III AEPF 2000

The third Asia-Europe People’s Forum was held in Seoul on October 17-21, 2000. The theme is “People’s Action and Solidarity Challenging Globalization”. More than 800 participants from 33 countries attended this forum and approved A People’s Vision-Towards a More Just, Equal and Sustainable World, which later serves as the guideline of AEPF, and submitted it to ASEM 3.

IV AEPF 2002

The fourth Asia-Europe People’s Forum took place on September 19-22, 2002 in Copenhagen. The title of the forum is “Asem4people”. Over 600 representatives from more than 30 countries participated in this forum. The forum approved a statement entitled Human Rights, People’s Security, and Sustainable Development Under Attack-No to Militarisation and Unfair Trade and submitted it to ASEM 4.

V ARPF 2004

The fifth Asia-Europe People’s Forum took place in Hanoi on September 6-9, 2004. The theme is “People’s actions for human security in Asia and Europe”. Over 500 representatives from more than 40 countries attended the forum, approved a final statement and submitted it to ASEM 5.

VI AEPF 2006

The sixth Asia-Europe People’s Forum took place in Helsinki on September 3-6, 2006. The theme is “People’s Vision-Building Solidarity across Asia and Europe”. Over 450 representatives from more than 40 countries attended the forum, adopted a final declaration and submitted it to ASEM 6.


1.2. Charter of AEPF

AEPF emerged in the mid 1990s from a common desire and need among people’s organisations and networks across Asia and Europe to open up new venues of dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. A first convergence of these networks came together in the Asia-Europe Conference which was organised in Bangkok in February 1996 on the occasion of the Asia Europe Summit Meeting (ASEM) 1. The Bangkok Conference concluded by launching an Asia-Europe civil society initiative which was named the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) in 1997. As it developed, the AEPF has sustained information, education and constituency building initiatives and it has also organized People’s Conferences in London (1998), Seoul (2002), Copenhagen (2002) and Hanoi (2004) preceding the ASEM intergovernmental meeting.

Preamble

From its beginnings, the AEPF has provided a space for social actors in each region to:

  • strengthen network building on a national and regional level and undertake cross-regional initiatives and campaigns
  • analyse issues of common interest such as security, militarisation and neo-liberal globalisation and its consequences for the peoples in each region and how these issues relate to global economic and political trends
  • provide people’s organizations and networks with a channel for critical engagement with official ASEM

In 1998, a ‘People’s Vision towards a more just, equal and sustainable world’ was elaborated and widely endorsed by hundreds of people’s organisations and networks. It was later revised and endorsed at the ASEM 2000 Peoples Forum in Seoul. People’s Charter

Our People’s Charter of principles underpins the ways of working and practice of the Asia Europe People’s Forum.

Therefore we, the participants in and supporters of the Asia Europe People’s Forum, declare that:

We support the:
  • promotion of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as agreed in international human rights and humanitarian law, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
  • 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 ASEM process.

We demand that the ASEM process recognize and respond to people’s needs and rights and become more transparent and accountable to national parliaments.

We state that:
  • 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,
  • the alternatives proposed by the AEPF stand in opposition to the current paradigm of globalisation dominated by financial capital and transnational corporations in their search for profit and power without consideration for equity and the environment, and by governments and international institutions which are increasingly serving corporate interests,
  • the alternatives being pursued by AEPF in co-operation with people’s organisations and networks designed to ensure that a globalised solidarity between people and people’s organisations will be at the centre of a new stage in world history.
We respect:
  • universal human rights,
  • the rights of all women, men and children.

We will work for the protection of the environment and will found our actions on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality, peace and the sovereignty of peoples in Europe and Asia.

We affirm that:
  • the AEPF is an open space for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals and networking for effective actions by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and to domination of the world by corporate power and any form of imperialism,
  • the AEPF is an inter-regional process between Europe and Asia - all the meetings that are held as part of this process have an inter-regional dimension,
  • the AEPF is a plural, diverse, non-sectarian and non-governmental space that, in a decentralised fashion, interrelates organisations and movements engaged in concrete actions and initiatives,
  • the AEPF wants to build relationships, dialogue, shared analysis and action between progressive organisations in Asia and Europe. The AEPF brings together and interlinks active citizens organisations and movements from all countries in Europe and Asia,
  • the AEPF welcomes and participates in the World Social Forum and the Regional and National Social Forum processes associated with it. Neither government nor military organisations shall participate in the AEPF.

The Proposed organisational framework and policy for the AEPF network and AEPF biennial Forum are set out in the AEPF network structure.


1.3. Governance and Structures AEPF

1.3.1. What is the AEPF?

1.3.2. Facilitating Structures of the AEPF

1.3.3. Focal points

1.3.1. What is the AEPF?

AEPF emerged in the mid 1990s from a common desire and need among people’s organisations and networks across Asia and Europe to open up new venues of dialogue, cooperation and solidarity.

The first AEPF bi-regional conference was organised in Bangkok on the occasion of the first ASEM in 1996. Since then People’s Forums have been held bi-annually as an Alternative Summit to the ASEM. ASEM stands for Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), the official meeting between heads of state of the European Union and 16 Asian countries. Since Bangkok, People’s Forums have been held in London (1998), Korea (2000), Denmark (2002), Vietnam (2004) and Finland (2006). The next ASEM will be held in China in 2008. The AEPF network has expanded over the years and has mobilised new organisations and movements from the AEPF host countries.

From its beginnings, the AEPF has provided a space for social actors in each region to:

  • strengthen network building on a national and regional level and undertake cross-regional initiatives and campaigns
  • analyse issues of common interest such as security, militarisation and neo-liberal globalisation and their consequences for the peoples in each region and develop alternatives
  • provide people’s organizations and networks with a channel for critical engagement with official policies of ASEM countries.

In 1998, a ‘People’s Vision towards a more just, equal and sustainable world’ was elaborated and widely endorsed by hundreds of people’s organisations and networks. It was later revised and endorsed at the ASEM 2000 Peoples Forum in Seoul. An AEPF Charter of Principles was adopted in December 2005.

Who are we and what are our objectives?

The purpose of this bi-regional network between organisations and movements from Asia and Europe is to contribute to a world based on the concepts of peace, participatory democracy, social justice, human rights, food sovereignty, sustainability and people’s rights to self-determination. The AEPF is a space to link struggles and visions on alternatives from both regions.

The formation of the bi-regional network opens a new chapter in people to people relations between civil society organizations in Asia and Europe. Social actors from both regions recognize the growing significance of inter-governmental relations between Asia and Europe and the necessity to develop new political and organizational responses.

The AEPF advocates a positive agenda of joint proposals and demands that enable us to influence policy on EU-Asia relations at the ASEM government and EU level. The AEPF also facilitates strategies and action as civil society on a variety of issues concerning both regions.

The Asia Europe People’s Forum Charter (EXTRACTS)

What are the Forum’s key initiatives?

Every two years we organise a People’s Forum as an Alternative Summit to the ASEM. Based on shared struggles, work and experiences, priority issues in the bi-annual forum have been:

-*Participatory democracy and human rights
  • Peace and security
  • Social and economic rights
  • Environmental justice and sustainability

Although organising People’s Forums held in parallel to official Summits is neither the beginning nor the end of the network’s activities and agenda, the holding of these alternative summits does provide key opportunities for strengthening and consolidating the work of the network and for making it visible.

How we work

These are the Governance and Structures of the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF). These are how we strengthen the AEPF and enable greater clarity and transparency in decision making. The Charter of the Asia Europe People’s Forum provides our reference point and the fundamental basis for how we work and what we aim to do.

Structure

The AEPF structure is aimed at enabling places and spaces for all who wish to be part of the AEPF. The AEPF should be a space for open and democratic debate and exchange providing the possibility for networking of people’s movements in Asia and Europe for joint actions which include lobbying the ASEM and related institutions and the European Union’s agenda in Asia.

The AEPF is not only ASEM related but focuses on broader Asia-Europe relations. Therefore we are not the ASEM Peoples Forum but the Asia Europe People’s Forum.

We believe that the AEPF is inclusive and transparent, democratic and open. We are working towards a series of linked circles of two types.

1. Geographical Circles at national and regional levels.

2. Thematic Circles for areas of work and activities of the AEPF.

The circles and how they link are outlined in detail below.

We also work through our International Organising Committee which, in the preparation and running of the People’s Forum held every two years, works with a National Organising Committee. The ways of working of the International Organising Committee and the partnership with the National Organising Committee are also outlined here.

1.3.2. Facilitating Structures of the AEPF

Principles
  • We aim to strengthen solidarity between peoples of Asia and Europe.
  • We will enable people and organisations with different and diverse backgrounds to be part of the AEPF. However we will ensure that a pro-people orientation remains fundamental.
  • Work is based on and builds on the AEPF Charter and our People’s Visions including their fundamental principles. This is our fundamental common ground. A commitment to the principles agreed and stated in our Charter is fundamental to participation in and collaboration with the Asia Europe People’s Forum.
  • We work on Asia-Europe relations but not exclusively those located in the ASEM process.
  • Transparent, democratic and open
  • We need to celebrate diversity and encourage and recognize that there are multiple solutions.
  • We recognize that Women’s access to rights and resources is often still unequal and inappropriate and that this needs to be challenged and changed.
  • Linking with networks and movements, being complimentary to the work of others and providing a space for others. The AEPF places importance on membership organisations, networks and movements with democratic decision making processes. This is key.
  • Build on collective energies and actions

We note that

1. There is a need for an inter-regional structure and that this has to be founded, informed and inspired by people’s experiences, strategies and visions.

2. The base should be geographical and thematic, building on our strengths and the Asian and European regions.

3. Our structure should bring together organizations and movements and facilitate exchanges of experiences, information, strategies and actions between them.

4. The type of organizational structure most appropriate to the development and strengthening of the AEPF is not pyramid shaped but circular.

5. We do not have the resources for one permanent secretariat.

The Structure

Circles

The Circles are the foundation of our structures.

Circles are created and made up of people who are representatives and activists from organizations and are people committed to working on the issue or activity that is the focus of the circle.

  • Circles are open and not closed.
  • Circles can agree on their most appropriate ways of working.
  • Circles should develop and agree plans for their work and share these as appropriate.
  • Circles will intersect.
  • Circles, when formed, will elect a link person(s) to link to other appropriate circles.
Types of Circles

There are two types of Circles envisaged

  • Geographical and
  • Thematic Circles.

Geographical Circles are envisaged at a minimum of three levels:

1. The AEPF International Organising Committee (IOC)

2. Regional AEPF Circles (Asia and Europe)

3. National AEPF Circles

Different areas of work can generate different Thematic Circles. These can also exist at the three geographical levels if appropriate. They are likely to be established first at the international and regional levels. As activity and interest is developed then connected national circles might be developed.

A member of a Thematic circle would be elected to be the link person for that area of work or activity from their circle to national/regional circles and/or the IOC.

Members of Thematic circles have the obligation and responsibility to share their work with other members of their national or regional circle.

Linking of Circles

One of the most important parts of the structure is the way in which circles link together. Each circle will elect a member to be the link person to other appropriate circles. This could be between two different thematic circles or between a thematic and geographical circle. The linking has many roles and responsibilities. It is key to enabling the AEPF to be more comprehensive and to making sure that the geographic and thematic circles share their ideas and activities. The links can also enable us to join and co-operate with other movements and networks.

Many individuals and organisations involved in the AEPF across the world are already involved in specific advocacy work. The AEPF aims not only to generate credible people centred alternatives but also to recognise, collate and endorse such alternatives that emerged before and after the Asia Europe People’s Forums and that will emerge in the future. Some are linked to the AEPF and others are independent. The structure ensures that they have a place for this to continue, to be able to share this better with other activists and to link with other people and organisations engaged in complementary activity.

Geographical Circles

The Geographical Circles are based on joining regional and eventually national circles.

The initial regions are

1. Asia

2. Europe

Through discussion, consultation and evolution we will be able to evolve a regionalization which reflects what each region feels is a viable and a positive contribution to the AEPF.

National Circles

The IOC should encourage where feasible the development of national circles and for them to link with regional circles. National circles can be established by organisations and movements working on Asia-Europe issues coming together. A national circle will need to apply to the Regional circle for recognition. The Regional circle will then forward this application to the IOC which needs to agree the recognition of a national circle. They can develop their own specific ways of working. These should recognise the principles stated earlier. A national circle should also

  • nominate a focal or contact person for the National Circle
  • nominate a link person(s) with the appropriate AEPF Regional Circle and the IOC.

1.3.3. Focal points

There are two Focal Points for the AEPF International Organising Committee, one in Europe and one in Asia. They play an important role in catalysing and facilitating the different circles and their inter-relationships. The Focal Points can rotate after an agreed period if this was felt to be desirable and feasible. The role and functions of the Focal Points are outlined below.

AEPF International Organising Committee

The AEPF International Organising Committee (AEPF IOC) is the reference body for the AEPF.

Membership Criteria

The IOC has up to sixteen members – six from Asia based organizations and six from Europe based organizations and up to two regional networks per region.

The size and composition of the IOC is reviewed every two years.

In principle there is an aim to have a balance of members from Asia and Europe.

Membership is for organizations and networks supporting the Charter. It is not for individuals. There is no more than one national organization per country on the IOC. Regional organizations like Forum Asia and Focus on the Global South can be IOC members as regional networks.

In each region there should be no more than two regional networks who are members of the IOC. This means that the maximum number of members of the IOC is at present 16.

The IOC was initially constituted by organisations and networks that were committed to develop and strengthen the People’s Forum process since it began in 1996. They formalised this commitment and have subsequently enlarged the IOC.

The membership and composition of the IOC is decided by the IOC

The Composition of the IOC, including the organisational memberships and names of representatives on the IOC should be reviewed at an IOC meeting which should be held immediately after the bi-annual People’s Forum. This IOC meeting should also consider new applications for membership.

Criteria for application for IOC membership

Each prospective IOC member must
  • support and be committed to the AEPF Charter
  • have a proven commitment to bringing Asia Europe relations and issues to wider audiences in their country and /or regionally;
  • have a proven commitment to positive working with the IOC and existing member organisations and networks. This can include within Thematic Circles;
  • have a recommendation from their respective regional circle;

Membership of countries hosting People’s Forums

Every two years there shall be a People’s Forum held just before the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in the town or city which is hosting the ASEM summit. The IOC has co-organized this with a National Organizing Committee (NOC) formed in the hosting country. The individual People’s Forums are organized jointly by the IOC and the NOC with decision making between the IOC and NOC taking place on the basis of consensus and where necessary negotiated consensus. There will be an IOC meeting that inaugurates the preparations for the People’s Forum. From then up to and including the Forum the NOC will nominate one representative to be a member of the IOC. They will be member of the IOC until the IOC that is held after the People’s Forum. This representative will be the formal link between the IOC and the NOC. After the People’s Forum an organisation or network from the hosting country can, if they wish, apply to be a member of the IOC. Like all applicants any applicant from the People’s Forum hosting country must fulfil the pre-requisites for becoming a member of the IOC. The IOC will assess and decide on this application in the context of the IOC’s criteria.

Responsibilities of the IOC

The main responsibilities of the IOC are

  • To take forward commitments made in the AEPF Charter, The People’s Vision and the Declarations made at the People’s Forum.
  • Taking forward the Charter
  • Strategic planning, assessment of progress and reviewing the direction of the work of the AEPF
  • Coordination, supporting and facilitating the work of the Regional and National Circles, Regional Focal Points and Thematic Circles
  • Organising, with a National Organising Committee from the host country, a People’s Forum held just before the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM)
  • Overall responsibility for the finances, fundraising and related reporting whilst delegation agreed activities to the Finance and Fundraising Transparency Committee
  • To discuss and agree or reject requests to establish National and Thematic Circles.
  • Liaise with ASEM and related institutions

Frequency of Meetings

IOC meetings are convened by the focal points.

IOC meetings should take place at least once a year. At least one meeting a year should be a ‘face-to face’ meeting. Additional meetings can, where feasible, be by phone conference.

Regional Circle meetings should take place at least twice a year. One meeting a year should be a ‘face-to face’ meeting. Additional meetings can, where feasible, be by phone conference

One IOC meeting should be held immediately after a People’s Forum.

Decision Making

Quorum for an IOC meeting is 50% of both Asia and Europe members This will be rounded up if there is an uneven number of regional members. Currently three members from each region will be considered as quorum.

There are no nominated/proxy votes.

The fundamental aim is decision making by consensus. This is a working principle of the AEPF IOC.

If consensus cannot be reached then an open vote will be taken on a proposed recommendation. This would be accepted if there is at least a two thirds majority voting for it. To be accepted the vote in favour must be at least two thirds of both Asia and Europe members present. If requested objections to a decision can be minuted.

Meetings, including skype meetings, will be minuted. Minutes will be circulated within two weeks of day of or closing day of the IOC meeting. They will be agreed by participants within a subsequent four weeks with any written amendments being submitted within this time frame. If no comments are received within the four weeks from when the minutes have been circulated, they will be considered accepted. Final minutes will then be circulated to all IOC members. If requested reservations or objections to a decision can be included in the minutes.

An IOC Meeting should be called with at least six weeks notice to members for a physical meeting.

Meetings are in principle open for observers to attend on a case by case basis to be agreed by the IOC.

Urgent actions can require a telephone conference which requires one weeks notice.

Legal Status

The AEPF and the AEPF IOC do not have a legal identity in itself.

Delegation of Responsibilities

  • IOC can agree the delegation of responsibilities
  • in consultation with the funding circle/group, to delegate authority to raise funds for AEPF supportive and related activities
  • for contracts to support AEPF supportive and related activities.

It is stressed that the organisation that has responsibility delegated to it and has signed the contract is wholly responsible for the terms and conditions of the contract and the risks and liabilities related activities undertaken. The AEPF IOC cannot accept liabilities for financial short falls or breaches of contract as it has no legal identity or own/core funds.

It may be desirable for the AEPF IOC Circle to elect a smaller group who would be a reference group for the Focal Points on certain agreed issues. This could consist of six representatives of which three will always be from Asia and three from Europe.

Links to Thematic and Geographical Circles

The IOC can create and agree circles/working groups for specific activities. Each circle should elect/nominate a link person. The link person has the responsibility to report to the IOC on the plans and progress of the circle.

Focal Points

In principle there are two focal points, one in Asia and one in Europe. These are recommended by regional circles and the recommendation must be approved by the IOC. The Focal points are accountable to the IOC and National Circles.

At present the Transnational Institute is the Europe Focal Point and, following a recommendation and agreement by the Asia IOC members, IPD are currently co-sharing the focal point responsibility with MSN

The Focal Points have the responsibility for

  • Facilitating and coordinating agendas for regional discussions and meetings
  • setting meetings
  • co-ordinating within the respective regions
  • co-ordinating between the regions
  • fundraising
  • lobbying and advocacy coordination in region and between regions
  • receiving requests to establish a National Circle and, after assessing them against the AEPF criteria, submitting them to the IOC

Thematic Circles

There are two main types of Thematic circles

A) Working Circles- to enable the development and strengthening of the AEPF

Thematic Circles could be developed for activities that are key to the development and strengthening of the AEPF itself. These will generally begin as International Thematic Circles.

Initially these are

  • Planning and organisation of the currently bi-annual People’s Forums
  • Peoples Vision– popularizing, translating and promoting
  • Funding, fundraising and Budget
  • Relationship with and lobbying of ASEM meetings

B) Thematic Circles – for policy and lobbying work

Thematic circles could also be developed for specific areas of policy and lobbying work. Some of these might be of a short duration and related to an activity others may be on-going. This is an open ended list. If there is the commitment and energy to establish and contribute to a circle then its establishment should be considered.

It is proposed to build these around the four themes of activity

  • Participatory democracy and human rights
  • Peace and security
  • Social and economic rights
  • Environmental justice and sustainability

Current work already covers

  • Local and participatory democracy and government
  • Water and alternatives to water privatization
  • Security and Peace
  • EU Free Trade agreements with ASEAN, Korea and India

These are not exclusive themes. This list will be organic and based on people and organizations ability and commitment to do things.

Thematic Circles are not necessarily fixed or with a fixed membership. They should work respecting the AEPF Principles stated earlier and respect the AEPF Charter.

To establish a circle, a group, organisation or network should elect a focal link person/organization as outlined above. The Thematic Circle will need to apply to the IOC for recognition. Share who the focal link person/organization is and agree to report regularly to the IOC.

Some Thematic Circles might be first established at the International level

In some regions for some Thematic circles, regional or even national circles may be appropriate and desirable.

The AEPF IOC will decide on the most appropriate ways of relating to and linking with both the Thematic Circles- to enable the development and strengthening of the AEPF and the Thematic Circles – for policy and lobbying work.

Specific attention will be given to the ways that the circles work and interact and outlining the principles they can work with in more detail. It may be appropriate to develop briefings on possible ways to establish and work in circles.

Developing AEPF positions and responses

Position papers and documents supported by the AEPF should be backed by a process of collective endorsement. Though individuals and organisations are encouraged to take public positions under their own names, an AEPF position should evolve more collectively.

Accountability and Responsibility

As stated above, a key concept in the Thematic circles and the geographical circles is accountability back to a constituency. This may also be important for members of National AEPF Circles as they may be there from and on behalf of certain constituencies.

AEPF National Organising Committee (NOC)

AEPF National Organising Committee (NOC) should be established by the host country of a People’s Forum.

The NOC has the responsibility to work in partnership by consensus with the IOC to host the People’s Forum.

The People’s Forum must respect the AEPF Charter and contribute to the fulfilment of its principles and respect its stated ways of working.

The NOC should be constituted by a range of organisations and networks that can ensure that the People’s Forum takes place on the basis of the principles and ways of working agreed in the AEPF Charter. The NOC should be open to cooperating and collaborating with local organisations that support the AEPF Charter.

The NOC is required to

1. nominate a representative to be a member of the IOC in the preparation of and during the People’s Forum.

2. nominate four representatives to be members of a People’s Forum core group to work with four representatives of the IOC. (The IOC representatives will normally include a representatives from each of the Focal Point organisations)

3. Agree an appropriate basis for the secretariat for the organisation of the People’s Forum

4. Work in partnership and through decisions made by consensus with the IOC to agree the process in the preparation for and building up to an AEPF which includes the respective roles for the IOC and NOC in

  • Drawing up the thematic statement about the aims and focus of the forum, including a working name;
  • Agreeing timing, location, venue(s), accommodation;
  • Agreeing processes for developing a programme including its structure (Plenaries/workshops/public events etc.), number of days and main content;
  • Agreeing a process for Workshop subjects and then, who proceeds to organize them and how and with what accountability to both the IOC and NOC;
  • Agreeing a working budget and related fundraising strategy and division of labour to raise funds;
  • Invitation of participants both national and international, relation to resources. This will include process for agreeing a timetable to ensure visas for international speakers and participants.

The IOC and NOC will agree lines of communication and decision making, including levels of decision making, between the NOC and IOC.

The People’s Forum

Every two years we organise a People’s Forum as an Alternative Summit to the ASEM. Based on shared struggles, work and experiences, priority issues have been:

· Participatory democracy and human rights · Peace and security · Social and economic rights · Environmental justice and sustainability

Although organising People’s Forums held in parallel to official Summits is neither the beginning nor the end of the network’s activities and agenda, the holding of these alternative summits does provide key opportunities for strengthening and consolidating the work of the network and for making it visible.

The People’s Forum is

  • An event that precedes the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM)
  • It will be held in the ASEM town/city of the host country as close in time to the ASEM as possible
  • It focuses on Asia-Europe relations but does not limit itself to either the ASEM agenda or ASEM member countries
  • It is open to social movements, organisations, networks and individuals who support the AEPF Charter and who are committed in taking it forward
  • It welcomes participants from ASEM member countries and non-ASEM member countries in Asia and Europe
  • It can invite speakers to contribute to discussions and reflections on the themes of the Forum from anywhere.

Governance and Structures of AEPF

Agreed by IOC

Port Dickson, Malaysia 8th December 2007


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2. AEPF 7 PROGRAM

AEPF 7 will have 3 roundtables and 30 panels under 3 cluster themes respectively. Specific agenda will be announced soon. Please keep updated on the website.

Cluster 1: Peace and Security

Roundtable:

1. Traditional and non-traditional security challenges and responses

Panel:

1. Geopolitical conflicts and militarization: Asia and Europe — their role and impact

2. Promoting inter-cultural dialogues and understanding

3. Anti-terrorism policies and their impacts on human rights and security

4. Regional security processes and impact on Asia-Europe relations

5. Alternative visions on security: strategies for conflict prevention and role of peace movements

6. Non-traditional threats to security and people’s responses

7. Legacies of weapons of mass destruction and struggles for justice and nuclear disarmament

8. Rise of religious fundamentalisms: impacts and responses

9. Arms trade — trends, controls and how can we really reduce it?

Cluster 2: Social and Economic Rights and Environmental Justice

Roundtable:

2. Development paradigms: trends and alternatives

Panel:

1. MDGs and their implications in Asia and Europe

2. Food sovereignty and security — experiences and responses

3. Asian and European investment flows — social and environmental impacts

4. Free Trade Agreements — contributing to sustainable development or double-edged swords?

5. Possibilities, limitations and alternatives of Corporate Social Responsibility — voluntary codes or binding standards?

6. Migrant labour in and between countries: rights, challenges and responses

7. Decent work and labour rights and protection

8. Alternatives to privatization of water and other essential services

9. Alternative financing for development — beyond debt and the international financial institutions

10. Climate change and ecological justice from Asia and Europe people’s perspectives

11. EU-Asia cooperation in alternative energy policies

12. Social security in Asia and Europe — trends and challenges

Cluster 3: Participatory Democracy and Human Rights

Roundtable:

3. Challenges to participatory democracy and human rights in the globalize market

Panel:

1. Local governance: participatory democracy at the grassroots in Asia and Europe

2. Strengthening women’s political participation and influence

3. People-centered political parties and social movements: strategies for active citizen’s participation

4. Protecting rights of the disabled people — policies and practice

5. Democratization — national policies and options for joint Asia — Europe strategies

6. Protecting rights of people living with HIV/AIDS — policies and practice

7. Asia-Europe alternative regionalism and people’s solidarity

8. Regional human rights mechanisms in Asia and Europe after 60 years of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights

9. Progress and challenges to people-centered democratization and human rights in Europe and Asia


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3. ABOUT IOC

IOC Members

The AEPF International Organising Committee (AEPF IOC) is the reference body for the AEPF.

Institute for Popular Democracy, the Philippines

Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization, Malaysia

Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation

Indonesia Popular Governance Institute

Focus on the Global South

Forum-Asia

Transnational Institute, the Netherland

Asia House Germany

One World Action, the UK

Development and Civilizations Lebret-Irfed, France

Finnish AEPF Committee

11,11,11, Belgium )]


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4. ABOUT NOC

AEPF 7 NOC Members

AEPF National Organising Committee (NOC) should be established by the host country of a People’s Forum. The NOC has the responsibility to work in partnership by consensus with the IOC to host the People’s Forum.

All-China Environment Federation

All China Federation of Trade Unions

All-China Women’s Federation

All-China Youth Federation

Association of Former Diplomats of China

China Asia-Africa Society

China Arms Control and Disarmament Association

China Association for International Science and Technology Cooperation

China Association for NGO Cooperation

China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture

China Association for Science and Technology

China Association of Employment Promotion

China Association of Women Entrepreneurs

China Care and Compassion Society

China Disabled Person’s Federation

China Economic and Social Council

China Education Association for International Exchange

China Environmental Protection Foundation

China Family Planning Association

China Great Wall Society

China Green Foundation

China International Institute of Multinational Corprations

China Law Society

China Society for Human Rights Studies

China Society for Promotion of the Guangcai Program

China Wildlife Conservation Association

Chinese Association for International Understanding

Chinese Medical Association

Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries

Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament

Chinese Society for Sustainable Development

National Association of Vocational Education of China

Red Cross Society of China

The Amity Foundation

United Nations Association of China

China Association of Agricultural Science Societies

China Council for International Investment Promotion

China Industry-University-Research Institute Collaboration Association

China Center for Promotion of Grass-root Democracy )]

5. AEPF 7 FINAL DECLARATION

7th Asia-Europe-Peoples’- Forum, Beijing 13-15 October 2008
Final Declaration

We, over 500 women and men, representing people’s organisations and citizens from Asia and Europe joined together in Beijing at the 7th Asia Europe People’s Forum to work ‘For Social and Ecological Justice.’ We focussed on developing strategies and recommendations to our elected representatives, and to ourselves, as active citizens, for ‘Peace and Security,’ ‘Social and Economic Rights, and Environmental Justice’ and ‘Participatory Democracy and Human Rights.’ We are here to understand how the world can be remade in another image and how current crises can lead to opportunities with the renewal and regeneration of demands for social justice.
Charles Santiago, Malaysia

We met at a moment of major historical importance that has brought into sharp focus the drastic inequalities, injustice and poverty experienced by people across Asia and Europe. What is currently being presented as a ‘financial crisis’ is in reality the latest in a series of interlinked crises - food, energy, climate, human security and environmental degradation - that are already devastating the lives, and compounding the poverty and exclusion faced on a daily basis by billions of women, men and children.
There is a strong consensus across Asia and Europe that the dominant approach over the last decades - based around deregulation of markets, increasing power of multinational corporations, unaccountable multilateral institutions and trade liberalisation - has failed in its aims to meet the needs and rights of all citizens. We need to go beyond an analysis and response that focuses solely on short term measures benefiting a few financial institutions. Our governments and the citizens of Asia and Europe have a unique and historic opportunity to transform our social, economic and political futures so that all can live in peace, security and dignity.
We all need to take responsibilities to work together to create and implement the radical and creative solutions needed for people centred recovery, change and a harmonious world - we will not have this opportunity again.
We therefore call upon the ASEM to implement people centered responses to the current financial crisis, in an effective and responsible manner. Urgent need must be given to poor, excluded and marginalised people and governments must work with citizens to develop and implement policies that will lead to a just, equal and sustainable world, and more accountable and democratic institutions – based on respect for gender equality, our environment and fundamental human rights.
This is a people’s forum - state leaders at ASEM should listen to our messages. We need a new type of regulation – markets don’t solve problems and we need social and economic justice.

Heidi Hautala, Finland

The 7th Asia Europe People’s Forum urges the ASEM and it’s member governments to take action to recognise the following issues, priorities and recommendations:

1. Peace and Security

- Develop long term solutions to promote peace, human security and sustainable development that prioritise non-violent means of conflict resolution, people-to-people interactions, use of international conventions and regional co-operation.
- Recognise and address security threats both multilaterally and multi-dimensionally through the United Nations, and adhere to principles of international law.
- Establish an inter-regional conflict resolution mechanism to develop common visions on foreign policy and security, based on respect for national sovereignty and human rights.
- Fully implement UNSC Resolution 1325 that recognises women are both disproportionately affected by conflict and key actors in promoting peace, reconstruction and reconciliation.
- Abolish the anti-terrorist laws that have been developed as a response to the ‘war on terror’ and that are being used on a daily basis to impose restrictions on citizens, and to criminalise peaceful organisations and minorities. Ensure any additional security measures - whether national, regional or international - are subject to democratic scrutiny by citizens, parliaments and respect internationally agreed legislation.
- In tackling religious extremism give special emphasis to the role of education and inter- and intra-convictional/faith dialogues at all levels. Ensure full freedom of expression and information to enable rational debate and understanding.
- Enact national legislation to guarantee full and public disclosure of government defence, arms exports and security budgets.
- Cut military expenditure that is being funded at the expense of health and education programmes.
- Democratise the security sector and its policies, programmes and decision making.
- Implement existing national constitutions that safeguard human security, peace and dialogue.
- Take concrete steps to strengthen the International Criminal Court.
- Use the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the basis of regional co-operation and take steps to denuclearise Europe and Asia while striving for a nuclear free world. Strengthen global mobilisation towards a participatory review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2010.
- Take primary responsibility to control the trade and proliferation of arms. Develop and agree transparent and binding mechanisms, overseen by the UN, to control arms imports and exports.
- Support civil society in their role and capacity to participate in arms control.
- Sign and ratify the Cluster Munitions Convention in Oslo in December 2008.
- Introduce legislation to make the European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports legally binding (with respect to European Union member states) and take steps to negotiate a Code of Conduct (with respect to states in Asia).
- Include the reduction of armed violence as one of the Millennium Development Goals.
- Support and protect survivors of the use and effects of weapons of mass destruction. Hold companies responsible for the production of weapons of mass destruction and toxic chemicals to account so that victims are compensated.
- Undertake legislation to remove US bases from their soil.
- Ensure the phased withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within an agreed timetable.

2. Social and Economic Rights, and Environmental Justice

- Use the opportunity of the current financial and political crisis to put in place an alternative financial architecture and infrastructure that will promote and enable a more equitable, carbon neutral and just global economic system, reclaiming national development policy rights and empowering working people. Financial institutions and financial decision-making must become truly accountable and transparent.
- Implement social protection policies that have been shown to be affordable and essential in alleviating poverty. Acknowledge that social security for all without discrimination is a universal right (employment guarantee schemes, living pensions, disability benefit, carer support etc).
- Responding to Climate Change - Develop decentralised, renewable energy sources to combat climate change and contribute to sustainable development. Implement legislation that will support all citizens in reducing their energy consumption.
- Whilst fulfilling the Kyoto Protocol work together to ensure far reaching and binding agreements in Copenhagen in December 2009 including the firm and binding commitment by OECD countries to reduce emissions by at least 80% within an agreed time period.
- Substantially cut global emissions based on common yet differentiated responsibilities and support and finance adaptation and mitigation initiatives across the world.
- Stop financing projects that contribute to hunger, poverty, social and political injustice, and climate change.
- Ensure that decisions about adaptation funding are inclusive of civil society and reflect the needs, solutions and rights of poor women and men. Transfer the control of Climate Investment Funds and other climate programs to the UN and to stop loan-financing of climate programs.
- Trade - Renegotiate existing and end current negotiations on all unjust and unfair free trade agreements (bilateral and multilateral).
- Debt - Cancel or stop payment of all illegitimate debt and end the use of loans and debt relief to impose conditionalities. Conduct a comprehensive and participatory debt review/audit to help establish who owes who.
- Provide reparation for the ecological and historical debts owed to the South.
- Debt cancellation is a major requisite for aid effectiveness and aid should not exacerbate the burden of debt. Return stolen assets kept in banks in the G8 and other Northern countries and take steps to prevent tax evasion by transnational corporations and capital flight from South to North.
- Aid - Ensure that aid is free from imposed trade and procurement conditionalities. Abolish tied aid.
- Respect and fulfil the right and obligation of all countries and peoples to reverse the harmful policies that have led to the debt, food, and climate crises, such as Structural Adjustment Programmes, unjust Trade Agreements, Investment Protection Treaties and Infrastructure Integration Initiatives. Recognise that people’s organizations, social movements, trade unions, NGOs and other citizens’ groups as independent development actors, contributing to democratic processes.
- Food Security - Food safety, sovereignty and access should be at the centre of agricultural and trade policies in order to achieve food security for all and to address the current food crisis.
- Governments should realize that there are increasing numbers of people living in hunger. Causes include the speculation on grains for agro fuel, grain futures and increased oil prices. Current privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation policies are marginalizing small food producers and grabbing land for the purpose of profit and speculation. The UN Comprehensive Framework for action on the food crisis was developed without consultation with civil society organisation and therefore lacks legitimacy.
- Responses to the food crisis must take into account the greater impact on women and girls. In the longer term attention must be placed on supporting women small holder farmers and enabling their access and control to land.
- Respect the right to food and healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods-protecting biodiversity. Food producers and fisherfolk should have access to and control over the means of production (e.g. land, seeds, water, appropriate technology). There must be full recognition of the rights and roles of women in food production.
- To implement agrarian reform programmes, strengthening local food production and consumption, diversification, controls on agribusiness and decreasing dependence on international markets.
- Implement a moratorium on agro-fuel production.
- Take immediate action to curb speculation on food stocks and prices.
- Ensure that research, science and technology are publicly accountable and address the pressing issues of food security, safety and sovereignty.
- In the context of stabilizing national food efforts, it is essential that in taking action to secure their own food security, countries do not undermine the human right to food in other countries.
- Labour rights - Ensure decent working conditions for all workers and respect for core labour standards. Develop and implement legislation to recognise, protect and promote informal workers, migrant, domestic and homeworkers.
- Ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of Rights and Well Being of migrant workers and members of their families and other relevant conventions as a minimum requirement for protecting the rights, decent work and well being of migrant workers. Recognise and protect the rights of migrant domestic workers and provide for the protection of their labour and human rights – in consultation with civil society and trade unions. Develop one standard for all countries in relation to recognising the skills and training of workers.
- Remove all legislation that criminalises migrants and detainees, undocumented migrants including minors up to 18 years (e.g. the EU Return Directive) and regulate recruiters and recruitment agencies.
- To take the responsibility and take remedial steps against the negative social and environmental impacts of foreign investments.
- Implement binding international legislation to ensure corporate social responsibility.
- Prevent the future privatisation of public resources such as water, health and education and, where possible, reverse current privatisation policies to ensure greater public control and public financing.
- Reaffirm that access to safe water and sanitation is a fundamental human right and to implement this right for all citizens. Market based solutions cannot solve the issue of governments irresponsible water policies, such as letting water resources be damaged by industrialisation or intensive agriculture. Transparency, accountability and good governance of water management, ensuring public participation are key to effective and democratic water delivery. All forms of water service delivery must be based on principles of affordable access, provision of quality water and based on consultation and participation.
- Take steps to finance and develop community disaster preparedness plans.

3. Participatory Democracy and Human Rights

- Eliminate the stigma, discrimination and human rights violations experienced by millions of people due to their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, caste, HIV status and ethnicity.
- Recognise that meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is dependent on the realisation of women’s and girls’ rights. Ensure that gender equality and women’s rights concerns are central to the proposed 2010 review process for the MDGs.
- Provide accountable timetables and budgeted commitments to fulfil promises made to contribute 0.7% of Gross National Income in official assistance to help to address the financing gap for the MDGs.
- Ensure that donor governments enable the policy space needed to adapt the MDGs and develop country specific implementation plans by an immediate end to harmful economic conditionalities. It is also essential that poor women and men fully participate in policymaking.
- Ensure that existing consultations and mechanisms mandated by governments for consultation with their citizens are truly representative and inclusive. People who are recipients of development aid should define what they need and participate in development of their projects.
- Establish an international solidarity fund to support women entering politics.
- We need more women at more levels - to support the development of campaigns, learning networks and supportive mentorship links to ensure more women can gain entry and maintain their full participation in all levels of public life.
- Implement quotas for women candidates and elected representatives at all levels (including within political parties) with sanctions for non-adherence.
- Include indicators and strategies for increasing women’s political participation in all national economic and social development plans.
- Take concrete steps to tackle the violence that is a major barrier preventing women from participating in political life – enact legislation to make it illegal for men to hold office if they have been convicted of violence against women.
- Participatory democracy is more than free elections, all stakeholders should be involved in democratic processes. There should be positive and constructive engagement on regional issues including promotion of ceasefires and the ending of internal conflicts.
- Protect and ensure optimum expression and freedom to information and transparency.
- Support initiatives that promote local participatory democracy, in addition to strengthening accountability within local governance.
- Develop, resource and effectively implement decentralisation policies. Introduce legislation to ensure free and fair local elections where there is not already in place.
- Ratify and fully implement UN Conventions on the Rights of Disabled People. Realise that this will not happen without the meaningful participation of disabled people at all levels.
- Call on all countries to mainstream disability concerns into local and national economic and social development
- Urge governments to take proactive positive measures to further eradicate disability discrimination and create accessible and inclusive environment for people living with disabilities
- To empower people with disabilities and their organisations for their equal participation and full inclusion in all respects of life, through partnerships amongst stakeholders including civil society and government.
- Support national programmes to train disabled people to become experts on disabled issues.
- Recognise the leadership of people living with HIV in reducing the impact of HIV, and to meaningfully involve people living with HIV in policy and programme development. Recognise and address the gender dynamics of the pandemic.
- Implement and adequately finance the International GIPA Declaration (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV).
- Ensure those responsible and complicit are brought to justice for those missing and disappeared and that there is legally agreed compensation for their families.
- Protect the rights of people living with HIV from stigma, exclusion, discrimination and human rights violations, and to ensure access to free treatment, care and support – exempting lifesaving medications from global trade agreements. To give special support to children who have lost their parents to HIV.
- Release all political prisoners and asylum seekers in Europe and Asia.
- Over 260 million people worldwide continue to suffer from exclusion, segregation and human rights violations on the basis of caste discrimination. Take urgent action to implement international and national legislation and initiatives to ensure its elimination.
- Develop multi-pronged and adequately financed regional anti-human trafficking policies.
- To establish an Asian wide regional human rights mechanism. AEPF welcomes the ASEAN Charter that could protect and promote human rights and the establishment of a regional human rights body. To ensure that the terms of reference of this body guarantee its independence and effectiveness. AEPF calls on ASEM to explore the possibility of expanding the ASEAN human rights mechanism to other Asian countries in the region and strengthen closer inter-regional cooperation of regional human rights mechanism between Asia and Europe.


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