As the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) strives for integration of its 10 member nations, Burma will continue to serve as a benchmark for its success or failure. Since ASEAN’s Charter came into force at the end of 2008, Burma has been in serious breach of several fundamental principles, most significantly (1) adherence to the rule of law, good governance, and democracy; (2) respect for fundamental freedoms, human rights and social justice; and (3) collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace and security. Many of the most recent violations of these principles have been tied to the military regime’s 2010 elections. Read more about the elections.
While the junta blatantly disregards the principles contained in ASEAN’s Charter, civil society from Burma, many of whom are forced into exile, seek a peaceful and stable Burma that will be able to fully contribute to the ASEAN community.
ASEAN cannot continue a policy of economic engagement with Burma’s military regime without a parallel responsibility for critical political engagement. It must recognize the necessity of political dialogue and national reconciliation before the regime cements its power in the upcoming 2010 elections.
The Task Force on ASEAN & Burma (TFAB) is a diverse network of civil society actors working to promote a people-centered ASEAN that supports the struggle for democracy, human rights, and peace in Burma. Since its founding in May 2009, TFAB has already played a key role in bringing voices from Burma to civil society and governments in the region. Diverse delegations from Burma have participated in the ASEAN Summits, ASEAN People’s Forum, and ASEAN Civil Society Conferences of February and October 2009, raising Burma as a key issue for ASEAN, and demanding that regional leaders address Burma’s serious breaches of the ASEAN Charter.
TFAB’s mission is to further cooperation, education, and engagement among Burma groups in order to create an ASEAN that is more people-centered. ASEAN cannot be a body just governed by autocrats and corporations; ASEAN must recognize and respect the universal rights of people and communities and begin to promote and protect these rights.
Recommendations to ASEAN: