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Statement of Representatives of 2011 ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum to the Informal Meeting Between ASEAN Leaders and Civil Society

By Representatives of ACSC/APF 2011  •  May 7, 2011

We are representing the participants of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF). The ACSC/APF brought together 1,300 participants, working on a wide diversity of issues in ASEAN countries. We met from May 3-5 to share updates on our work to deal with the critical challenges facing the peoples of ASEAN. The ACSC/APF is an annual event that allows us to strengthen our ongoing partnerships to highlight, address and resolve the urgent and emerging problems facing the region.

Firstly, we wish to express our appreciation to the Indonesian hosts, government and civil society, for their efforts to organise the interface within mutually agreed guidelines.

Secondly, we condemn the government of Myanmar for their actions to sabotage this process by appointing their own nominee, a Police Colonel, to stand in for civil society at the interface. The great uncertainty and last-minute complications caused by this seriously undermine the good faith between ASEAN leaders and civil society.

We have constantly and consistently reminded ASEAN governments that the ACSC/APF has an established process and criteria for selecting our representatives. This action by the government of Myanmar disrespects the rights of civil society from individual countries and ASEAN as a whole, to choose their representatives. We have compromised as much as possible in order to have the interface, however, this is one principle we cannot discard.

We are absolutely disappointed that Myanmar would undermine the credibility of ASEAN in this way. We tried to be as flexible as possible. We were hoping to open the path for dialogue to urgently solve the problems threatening ASEAN peoples. The slogan of the 18th ASEAN Summit is “Towards an ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations”, unfortunately we do not see this community spirit in practice.

ASEAN governments, including Myanmar, have made public commitments to a people-oriented ASEAN through the ASEAN Charter and official statements. It will be impossible to have a people-oriented ASEAN without substantive dialogue between governments and civil society. This is more urgent than ever: If ASEAN governments can’t even meet with us, how can they work with us to solve the critical problems facing the peoples of this region?

The dialogue to achieve a people-oriented ASEAN needs to be ongoing, not just for a few minutes per year. It needs to take place in a situation of mutual respect and openness. It needs political will to achieve effective responses to the problems threatening this entire region. We sincerely urge our leaders in government to renew and implement their commitments to the peoples of this region.

The challenges we face and want to address are immense:

  • Poverty in the region is growing, undermining poverty reduction programs and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is increasingly unlikely,
  • Climate change and severe environmental degradation threaten human security in this region,
  • Marginalised communities, including people with disabilities, are under even greater pressure because of privatisation of public utilities and services including healthcare, education, public transport, electricity and water,
  • Mega-projects including hydro-electric dams, nuclear power plants, oil and gas pipelines are unnecessarily eating into national budgets, threatening local communities and contributing to widespread human rights abuses,
  • Millions of migrants, refugees and displaced persons continue to be abused, exploited and trafficked,
  • Exploitation of children continues unchecked, and
  • Thousands of communities are still being subjected to armed conflict, extreme insecurity and impunity.

Obviously, meaningful dialogue has not happened yet. We hoped the interface will be the start of this process, which needs to happen soon. Despite this setback, we remain determined to continue our work with, and for, the peoples in this region. We hope that ASEAN leaders will stop isolating themselves from the people. The peoples of the region cannot afford anymore delays or excuses.

ON THE TOPIC OF HEALTH, THE PROPOSED THEME OF THIS INTERFACE:

The 1,300 participants of the ACSC/APF came up with the following recommendations on health:

The privatisation of healthcare intensifies the vulnerability of marginalised groups, makes the poor poorer, and severely undermines poverty reduction efforts.

Urgent measures are needed to address the following:

Basic Health for All

1.    ASEAN states should ensure a free and universal health care system without any discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). There should be stop the privatization and commodification of health care system, ensure equal access and provide affordable and quality health care as pat of labor rights for all including domestic workers, migrant workers, sex workers, workers with disabilities, LGBTIQ workers, refugees and asylum seekers..

Health System

2.    Mechanism should be created that enables CSOs and/or community members to participate in decision-making and designing of a sound and sustainable health program for ASEAN people, particularly the marginalized people.

3.    Governments should ensure the provision of adequate resources, and accessible and quality healthcare for children.

4.    Youth, the poor and vulnerable groups including people living with HIV/AIDS, young LGBTIQ, and youth who use drugs should be provided with free and accessible universal health care system that is youth-friendly with the formalisation of young peoples’ involvement.

5.    Policy should be implemented for persons with disabilities that improves the access to health services, health insurance and subsidy to additional cost on the ground of disability

Health for those who are in difficult circumstances

6.    For migrant workers, all ASEAN member states must repeal policies of contract termination and deportation on the grounds of pregnancy and communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

7.    Specific health needs such as physical and psycho-social related needs should be fulfilled for those who are infringed their human rights due to war and torture.

Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights

8.    Human rights and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights should be prioritised and enforced within the policy framework of public health services. Condom programmes must address all aspects of supply, demand and environment within a rights based approach.

9.    A comprehensive set of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services must be provided to sex workers. The whole spectrum of prevention, treatment, care and support from a rights-based approach. Focusing HIV prevention on sex work is the most cost-effective investment in ASEAN

10. To endorse ASEAN member states and government commitment to realise their vision of the implementation of ICPD (1994) Plan of Action in particular sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as well as MDG 5 and MDG 6 commitments.

11. ASEAN member states must enforce and guarantee the sexual and reproductive health and rights in the ASEAN policy framework by referring laws and policies to promote sexual and reproductive rights and repeal restrictive and punitive laws and policies which deny equal access to information and services as well as those which criminalize the transmission of HIV and abortion. These laws and policies should at minimum comply with international human rights standards, treaties, and conventions. These rights enable and informed decisions over marriage pregnancy, treaties and conventions. These rights enable free and informed decisions over marriage pregnancy, childbirth, contraception, sexuality, sexual orientations, gender identities, pleasure and livelihood. Eradicate sexual and reproductive coercion, stigma, discrimination, harmful traditional practices and gender-biased violence, particularly against women and girls.

12. To decrease unsafe abortion and maternal mortality, and as a result call for governments to address these as public health and human rights issues. Ensure equitable and affordable access for contraception, safe and legal abortion, skilled maternity and newborn care including access and referral to pregnancy and delivery complications; prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV and AIDS and all other sexually transmitted infections, including in humanitarian crisis. All of these services must be available and fully funded throughout the health system, particularly in the public sector and at the primary health care level as well as taking into consideration the important role that NGOs play in providing complementary health services.

13. To decrease the high maternal mortality and morbidity in the ASEAN region as well as the high unmet need of contraceptives and the high adolescent fertility rate as a consequence of the traditional practice of underage marriage Making Pregnancy Safer (MPS) for the youngest mothers and their babies should become a priority for those ASEAN countries where childbearing still common. Effective interventions and a clear action plan should be ready to address adolescent marriage and pregnancies.

14. Provides these services for all, ensuring quality, gender and age-sensitive healthcare and non-discrimination for low income and other marginalised groups. Services providers need to be non-judgmental and respect diversity. Support innovation, including the development of new technologies and services models, and access to scientific progress. We call upon governments to include objectives and indicators in the national health planning and budgeting process that ensure positive sexual and reproductive health and rights outcomes.

15. To stop the forced sterilization and denial of reproductive rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS and persons with disabilities.

Health Education

16. ASEAN should initiate and implement a regional curriculum on comprehensive sexuality education inclusive of sexual and reproductive health and rights, both in formal and informal education systems that can be enjoyed by youth of ASEAN especially marginalized groups

Access to Medicines

17. ASEAN should resist and oppose the effort of the EU to push for restrictive Intellectual Property Rights chapter that would curtail production and distribution of more affordable generic medicines.

18. To refuse trade agreement between India and EU which patented the medicines, including ARV, caused price of medicine in the third world become very expensive.

Health risk factors

19. Health policies should consider decent working condition, safe working environment and decent living conditions

20. The harmful impact on health of individuals and communities affected by forced evictions and displacements should be examined and remedied

21. Building large-scale hydropower dams affects both the physical and mental health of indigenous peoples and local communities living within the dam site. They become insecure because of safety concerns and uncertainties since they rely heavily on the river and their environment for sustenance and livelihood and this is even more compounded by the threats and impacts of climate change.

22. Taxes and prices of tobacco products should be raised as the best way to curb smoking. This will increase government revenue, save lives and improve quality of life.

23. ASEAN should ensure dialogue and decision making between women or community members and policy makers on the impact of climate change on women’s livelihoods, health, sexual and reproductive rights. The specific needs of women should be factored into the policies on climate change.

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This post is in: ASEAN, Press Release

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