Seminar "Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives" (18-19 Jan 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

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PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka, Bangladesh ? January 18-19, 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

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Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, buy discount democratic, prescription united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , capsule steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

By Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)


The European Parliament will this week approve the final deal on the European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which obliges the European Commission to consider proposals supported by the signatures of one million Europeans. The final deal is a compromise between the Commission and Council, sick who insisted on administrative hurdles that would have made it very difficult to collect the signatures needed, and MEPs who wanted fewer obstacles. But how much of a boost is this new instrument for democracy and citizens’ power?

The Citizens’ Initiative is presented as a tool to empower citizens. Such a tool is of course much-needed in a European Union that is suffering from a deep democratic deficit, and where citizens are largely sidelined in decision-making, contributing to a strong and deepening sense of political disempowerment. The vacuum that currently exists between citizens and the EU institutions is occupied by professional lobbyists, most of which represent big business interests. It is in this desperate context that the European Citizens’ Initiative is launched.

Introduced as a result of the Lisbon Treaty, the Citizens’ Initiative has even been referred to as a “tool for participatory democracy”. Wikipedia defines participatory democracy as processes that ensure “broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems” and create “opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making”.[1] Belgian Secretary of State for European Affairs Olivier Chastel, who negotiated for the Council during the EU Presidency, even claimed that “Thanks to the citizens’ initiative, we will change from representative democracy to participatory democracy!” [2]

But now that the final text on the process has been approved, it is clear that this is a wildly exaggerated claim for an instrument that merely obliges the European Commission to consider proposals that have received backing of one million signatures from at least seven Member States.

Once one million signatures have been collected, the Commission has three months to “set out the actions it envisages to take in response to it”, including “its reasons if it does not envisage taking any action”. In other words, these proposals are not in any way binding for the Commission. There is not – in contrary to in the US or elsewhere where citizens’ initiatives exist – the possibility of binding referenda or anything else that would justify the term participatory democracy. The Commission will continue to have the absolute monopoly on making proposals for EU legislation. The organisers of the petition do gain the right to present their demands at a “public hearing at EU level”, but this is a very meager compensation for having gone through such tremendous signature-gathering efforts.

Collecting one million signatories is never a simple exercise, but the final rules for the ECI add further hurdles. The European Commission and Council had initially insisted that all signatures should be complemented with ID numbers and perhaps even re-confirmed by the signatories, bureaucratic hurdles that would be virtually impossible for grassroots citizens groups to jump. In the final compromise the procedures for confirming the authenticity of the signatures is left to each Member State to decide. Bureaucratic hurdles will therefore vary from one country to another, but Member States are free to introduce quite excessive conditions. The signatures have to be collected within twelve months, a very short time frame. Significant numbers of signatures have to be collected in a quarter of the 27 EU member states (MEPs had insisted that one fifth was sufficient). These are important conditions that will determine whether the new instrument is available as a tool for grassroots groups or mainly for large well-funded organisations. This is one of the major lessons to be learned from the Citizen’s Initiative that already exists in California, US.

Lessons from California

The Californian Citizens’ Initiative, which has been in place for almost a century, is today rarely used by grassroots citizens’ groups because of fundamental flaws in its design. Ironically, it is more often used by big business interests. According to an in-depth study published by the Center for Governmental Studies, “Money often dominates the initiative process even more than it does the legislative process.”[3] In fact, there hasn’t been a single Citizens’ Initiative based on volunteer support since 1982 because of the high numbers of signatures required and the short deadline for collecting signatures.

Virtually all the initiatives put forward in California use expensive professional signature-gathering firms and “volunteer signature gathering has become a thing of the past.” The signature-collection stage – which is comparable to the ECI model – costs on average one to three million US$. This is a massive hurdle for grassroots citizens’ groups, but not for well-resourced NGOs, businesses or wealthy individuals, the actors that are using the California initiative system. “Money, rather than breadth or intensity of popular support has become the primary threshold”, the Centre for Governmental Studies concludes. The recommendations are two-fold: lower the threshold (lower number of signatures and longer timelines) so it becomes easier for lesser-financed groups to succeed in submitting initiatives and limit campaign contributions to ensure that wealthy groups or individuals cannot buy their way in.

A tool for citizens’ power?

It remains to be seen if the European Citizens Initiative will suffer from similar problems as the Californian model, but clearly the set-up of the ECI is far from ideally equipped to avoid this. The threshold is significant and likely to deter many grassroots groups from attempting to use the new tool, not least in the light of the Commission’s right to reject a proposal even if it passes the one million hurdle (the Californian model leads to a referendum with binding outcomes).

The risk that big business groupings will use the ECI to promote their demands is probably limited as they enjoy far more direct routes to agenda-setting via lobbying in Brussels. But attempts to abuse the ECI for corporate propaganda cannot be completely ruled out. In California it is very common for industry lobbies to launch counter-initiatives to defeat initiatives on social or environmental issues which they are unhappy with. This is typically done through industry-funded front groups posing to represent citizens. The most recent example is Proposition 23, an unsuccessful attempt to suspend a law aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouse gases. Americans For Prosperity, funded by oil giant Koch Industries, played a key role in propagating the ‘Yes on 23’ campaign. Lobby consultancies often play a key role in establishing such front groups. Will this happen in Europe?

It is positive that the organisers of citizens’ initiatives in the EU must provide “regularly updated information on the sources of support and funding for the initiative”. But it would have been far better to go beyond transparency and restrict who can finance such initiatives. Excluding corporate funding and large contributions from wealthy individuals would have been far more logical, considering that this is supposed to be a tool for ordinary citizens.

The first one million signatures for a citizens’ initiative had already been collected before the rules were finalised, providing an opportunity to put the new initiative to the test. Greenpeace, with the support of Avaaz, presented a petition calling for a ban on genetically modified (GM) crops.[4] Biotech industry lobby group EuropaBio were extremely annoyed, dismissing the petition as “a publicity stunt” and claiming that EU citizens are not concerned about GMOs.[5]

The Commission, meanwhile, has indicated it will not consider the Greenpeace petition because the signatures were collected before the ECI rules were finalised.[6] “Strictly speaking, they would have to do it all over again,” a Commission spokesperson said. This attitude does not bode well for the new initiative. For the Commission, brushing away the petition relieves them of responding to a demand that challenges its pro-GMO policies and decade-long alliance with the biotech industry.

While the ECI will not bring participatory democracy in any real sense, let alone increase democratic control over EU policy-making, it will hopefully serve a purpose in gaining attention for some of the numerous progressive citizens’ concerns that are routinely ignored by the Commission. And perhaps, over time, the Commission’s likely refusal of many demands, which are backed by millions of citizens will expose the deep lack of accountability that exists today — giving momentum to citizens’ movements demanding genuine democratic opportunities.

Industry front groups in Brussels

Edelman is one of the lobby consultancy firms in Brussels advertising “grassroots advocacy” services. The advantage of this approach, Edelman explains, is that industry lobby demands “will not be seen as biased, unlike your organisation”.[7] A recent example was the GM food tasting event held in the Renaissance Hotel, in front of the European Parliament, in June this year. The invitations for MEPs and journalists came from an unknown group called the Farmers Biotech Network, but the event was organised by Edelman.[8] On the menu was polenta made with Monsanto’s Bt-maize, produced in Spain. Only later Edelman admitted that it was biotech lobby group EuropaBio that paid for the event, a fact that was not disclosed to guests nor to the media covering the event. The demand to ‘give farmers more choice’ in growing GM crops is part of EuropaBio’s wider lobby campaign on behalf of large biotech corporations.

Notes:

1: Wikipedia article on participatory democracy, accessed 13 December 2010.

2: Olivier Chastel: “Thanks to the citizens’ initiative, we will change from representative democracy to participatory democracy!”, 30 September 2010.

3: Democracy by Initiative: Shaping California’s Fourth Branch of Government, Center for Governmental Studies, 2008 (2nd edition).

4: First European Citizens’ Initiative delivered to Commissioner Dalli; A million Europeans demand a moratorium on genetically modified crops, Greenpeace press release, 9 December 2010.

5: EuropaBio dismisses Greenpeace/Avaaz anti-GM petition as ‘publicity stunt’, Public Affairs News, 2 November 2010.

6: EU receives anti-GMO petition amid raging legal battle, Andrew Willis, EUobserver, 10 December 2010.

7: Session on ‘Grassroots Campaigning‘ during the European Agenda Summit 2008.

8: ‘Farmers Biotech Network’ GM food tasting event paid for by EuropaBio, Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, 13 July 2010.


Source: http://www.corporateeurope.org/content/2010/12/eci-participatory-democracy

PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka, Bangladesh ? January 18-19, sickness 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

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Workshop: Envisioning New South Asia: Peoples’ Perspective (18-19 January 2011 – Dhaka)

A compilation of articles on the Left Debate on the euro-crisis


Articles by

Asbjørn Wahl

Mark Weisbrot

Yanis Varoufakis

Michel Husson

Costas Lapavitsas

Özlem Onaran


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As stated by ATTAC “the present form of the European Union is a serious obstacle to democratic achievements, fundamental rights, cheap social security, pharmacy gender justice, and environmental sustainability. It suffers from a lack of democracy, legitimacy, and transparency, and is governed by a set of treaties which force neoliberal policies on member states and the whole world”.

For many years, several European networks of social organisations and movements have worked on alternatives to the neoliberal corporate Europe. The discussion on the other Europe we want is still very much under debate. However, the construction of Another Europe is combined with the daily struggles of European progressive movements, which oppose privatisation and disassembly of public services, Fortress Europe against migrants, weakening of democratic and civil rights and growing repression, trade and investment liberalisation policies, food and agricultural policies that undermine the possibilities for food sovereignty, corporate lobbies, military intervention in external conflicts and military bases, among others.

Some of the networks that contribute towards building an alternative European economic and social model are:

European ATTACs

Network for the Charter for another Europe
Euromemorandum-Group

European Alternatives

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTEREU)

Seattle To Brussels Network (S2B)

transform!

Women In Development Europe (WIDE)

European Coordination Via Campesina


EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, here a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, try while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.

Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012


For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee

CHHITH Sam Ath                                                              Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group,
wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, order while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


For more information, please visit our website at www.acscapfcam.org or contact the ACSC/APF


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS



EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, drugstore a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, seek wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


For more information, please visit our website at www.acscapfcam.org or contact the ACSC/APF


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, healing a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, shop wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, seek while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


For more information, please visit our website at www.acscapfcam.org or contact the ACSC/APF


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, cheap a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, treat wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


For more information, please visit our website at www.acscapfcam.org or contact the ACSC/APF


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, adiposity
a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012


For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee

CHHITH Sam Ath                                                              Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, healing a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, buy wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com

or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.
Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012
For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee
CHHITH Sam Ath Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, see wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.

Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012


For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee

CHHITH Sam Ath                                                              Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

Peoples’ SAARC on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: Peoples’ Perspective’ held on 18-19 January 2011 at Dhaka

PRESS STATEMENT, 20th Jan 2011

Participants in the seminar organized by Peoples SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: Peoples’ Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, democratic, united and just South Asia.. The group observed that South Asia is home to some of the world’s richest; and also of the largest number of poor people in the world. The region is plagued by conflict, poverty, lack of access to basic necessities and services; and ravaged by conflicts of various kinds. Rampant unemployment, feudalism, abysmal living conditions of the large majority, is further complicated by religious sectarian violence and state sponsored violence, both domestic and cross border.

There is an urgent need to find solutions to the deep seated problems in the South Asian region. And clearly, these cannot be found in the failed neo-liberal paradigm, nor in the right wing alternatives based on religious sectarianism and national chauvinism. It is also clear to us that the solutions to what are common problems spanning the entire region are more likely to be effective if they are regional in scope. Regional unity can be a good beginning to finding solutions and alternatives.

Yet many of the governments of the SAARC countries, particularly the more powerful ones, are not upholding the lofty ideals that form part of the SAARC Charter which they are committed to defend.

Although SAFTA has been in place since the 1980s, formal trade within the region is still negligible. Intra-regional trade can be a vehicle for pro-poor, equitable growth, but only when such trade includes safeguards and regulations to allow for equitable growth both within and between countries. The Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that are being negotiated and implemented within the region bilaterally and with other countries follow a neo-liberal model that undermines labor regulations and benefits richer countries disproportionately. The EU-India FTA currently being negotiated is based on the unequal power relation between the north and the south and if signed would seriously affect the economic interest and livelihood of the people of South Asia. Intra-regional trade based on the principles of complementarity and protection of workers, farmers and other marginalized communities is necessary and essential for the economic well-being of countries in the region.

Climate change is a critical issue throughout the region, with coastal and mountainous communities facing the greatest threat. Climate justice is closely linked with the more fundamental questions of poverty, marginalisation, deprivation, and skewed development. We appeal to the governments of SAARC to respond to this threat by addressing the question of climate justice, and also by working out unified positions on the climate negotiations and climate justice, and measures taken in energy policy and the development of clean technology.

While conflicts are tearing apart the region and the countries of South Asia, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India the “war on terror” is claiming thousands of lives as collateral damage. This conflict cannot be resolved without accountability for those who have committed crimes on all sides, including governments. Solutions must be driven by the affected communities whenever possible through transparent processes designed to build trust between communities.

We in PSAARC are deeply concerned about the rise in sectarian violence, militancy based on nationalism and religion, and the support they are getting from the various quarters including the state, Army, Intelligence agencies, etc. Terrorist violence in the name of religion, which was historically sponsored by imperialism has extended its pernicious tentacles all over the region. Wars are being fought over natural resources, for geo-political gains, and also for the hearts and minds of the citizens.

Religious extremism has been spawned by imperialist interests and their drive for global hegemony. It should be fought collectively by the people of South Asia. An increased commitment to democracy and justice and the intensification is the only way to combat this trend.

Fundamental to the creation of a united, peaceful and prosperous South Asia is a liberalised visa regime. The tightening of visa restrictions does not affect those who carry arms and carry out armed attacks on innocents. These are criminals and they do not apply for visas. Those who are affected are those with families in neighbouring countries, those who work on cooperative projects between South Asian countries, those who are peace activists….and also those who are traveling in search of a livelihood.

It is natural that people from the less prosperous regions migrate to places where they can make a living for themselves and their survival. This issue is therefore closely linked with development. The governments of SAARC Countries have an obligation to protect the rights of all South Asian people to earn a decent livelihood. Criminalising them in the name of ‘illegal migration’ is not an option.

The new South Asian region can be created only when we and our political leadership have the courage to develop and implement solutions to these issues. This meeting is an important first step towards this.

We, members of academia, trade unions, NGOs, social movements, womens organizations, who are part of the loose network called PSAARC, believe that SAARC must play a pro-active role to fulfill the aspirations of the people of South Asia along with civil society organizations. Towards this we appeal to the Bangladeshi government, which has been striving to build and extend democracy for its peoples, and from whom we have very high expectations, to support these aspirations of the people of the region.

Precipitating organization and persons:

From AFGANISTAN: RAZ MOHD DALILI- SDE. From INDIA: MEENA RUKMINI MENON- FOCUS, JATIN BABU DESAI-Fucus, LALITA RAMDAS-Greenpeace, KAMLA BHASIN-Sangat, KAMAL ARON MITRA CHENOY -JNU, , Samir Dossai -Action Aid, NEERA CHANDHOKE, BABULAL SHARMA- SAPA, ASHOK GHOSH CHOWDHURY – NFFPFW/NITU,ROMA MALIK -NFFPFW/UP, GAUTAM MODY NTUI, DR.AMRITA CHHACHHI ,ANIL KUMAR CHAUDHURY, Dipali Sharma – Action Aid. From MALDIVES: LATHEEF MOHAMED. From MANILA: JENINA JOY CHAVEZ-Focus. From NEPAL: SARBA RAJ KHADKA-SAAPE/RRW, NETRA PRASAD-TIMSINA Nepal, RACHITA SHARMA DHUNGEL-SAAPE, KAPIL SHRESTHA- NEOC, GOPAL KRISHNA SIWAKOTI – ANFREL, LILADHAR UPADHYAYA-The rising Nepal, BISHNU PUKAR SHRESTHA-CAHURAST, DINASH TRIPATHI- Civil Ribs Association Nepal. From PAKISTAN: KARAMAT ALI, FARRUKH SOHAIL GOINDI – Jumhoori Publications, ZULFIQAR ALI HALEPOTO-PPC, MOHAMED ILYAS- PLP,HASIL KHAN BIZENJO, MOHAMMED ASLAM MERAJ,NAJMA SADEQUE-SHIRKAT GDH, ZAHIDA PARVEEN DETHO- SRPO, SHARAFAT ALI PILER, NADEEM ASHRAF , Anjuman Magarccn Panjab, SHAIKH ASAD REHMAN-Suugi Development Fuondation. From SRILANKA : MOHAMMAD MARUF-Peoples SPACE, SUNILA ABEY SEKARA –SANGAT. From BANGLAESH : Md. Halal uddin – Ongikar, Shahida Khan-Rupanter, Lutfar rahman-BTUC, Mangal Kumar Chakma- PCJSS, Fawzia – SANGAT & UNDP, ADITTYA – IED, Mohiuddin Mohi- SAAPE, Nasir Uddin-GUP/SAPA, Uma Chudhury- SUPRO, Shamima Akter-ASWO foundation,KG Moazzam-CPD, NAVSHARAN SINGH -IDRC, Wajedul Islam-BTUC, Mohammad Latif, Badrul Alam -BKF, Asgor Ali Sabri – Action Aid, Monjur Rari Paramanik- Supro, Muzib-BNPS,M. Aslam- LOM, Titumir-UO, Himadri Ahsan-BNPS,Shahin anam – MJF, AHM Bazlur Rahman-BNNRC, Khushi Kabir- Nijerakori, Numan Ahmed- IED, Hareeda Hassan- ASK/SAHR, Anwar Hossain – WAVE Foundation, A.Haseeb Khan- RIC,

For more clarification, please contact;
Reza, Chief Moderator, EquityBD, Mobile +8801711529792, reza@coastbd.org
———————————————————————————————
C/O SAAPE, PO 8130, 288 Gairidhara Marg, Gairidhara, Kathmandu, Nepal. (T) (977) 14004976, saape@saape.org

Corporate EUtopia – how new economic governance measures challenge democracy

PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka, help Bangladesh ? January 18-19, cheap 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

Download power point presentation

Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , physician steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), mind Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Date/time

Programme

Remarks

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, case democratic, united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

By Walden Bello*

(Speech at the Conference on “Regional Integration: an Opportunity Presented by the Crisis”, Universidad de Deportes, Asuncion, Paraguay, July 21-22, 2009.)

Globalization has ended in massive failure.

One response to this crisis has been to dump export-oriented industrialization and reemphasize the primacy of the national market in sustaining economic growth.

Another response, complementary to this, has been to build regional associations or regional blocs.

Regional economic blocs are not new. However, some of the more prominent ones have either not moved beyond a primitive stage, as in the case of SAARC in South Asia, or have been based on neoliberal principles, like ASEAN in Southeast Asia. ASEAN’s idea of integration is to see it as a step towards full-scale globalization, a process that is termed “open regionalism.”

The most interesting efforts at integration, in the view of many, are those taking place in Latin America, among them Trade Treaty of the Peoples and ALBA or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas to which eight countries now belong. These experiences are at an early stage and yet they already contain lessons for other parts of the world. It is for this reason that the organizers of this conference decided to hold it in Asuncion, bringing in activists and government officials from Asia and Africa to interact with people in this region to discuss the lessons that developments here have for the rest of the world.

For many of us from outside Latin America, the dynamics of ALBA hold particular interest. One item that fascinates us is the use of barter as a key method of trade, for instance, the exchange of Venezuelan oil for Bolivian soybeans or of Venezuelan oil for medical services rendered by Cuban volunteers. Another is the subsidization of the oil needs of 14 Caribbean countries by Venezuela, which sells fuel to them at 40 per cent off the world price. We are intrigued by the comment of President Hugo Chavez during the World Social Forum in Caracas in 2006 that these practices “go beyond the logic of capitalism.”

Yet we cannot romanticize these efforts. For instance, the plan to build oil and gas pipelines from Venezuela to the furthermost areas of South America is probably dangerous and damaging not only to the environment but also to the indigenous peoples. Some elements of the ALBA perspective, as expressed by some people, reflect the perspective of 1950’s-style national capitalist industrialization, which is probably not suitable for the current period.

The challenges confronting us today cannot be met by either neoliberalism or the old developmentalist model. Let me mention some of these challenges to contemporary regionalism in Latin America and other parts of the South.

1. The first is how to build regional blocs that go beyond trade to include industrial policy, a shared agricultural policy, macroeconomic coordination, and technology sharing.

2. The second is how to ensure that building complementarity among economies does not reproduce the old, unequal division of labor between stronger and weaker economies.

3. The third is how to promote a development process that does not reproduce social inequalities at the regional and national levels in the name of capital accumulation.

4. The fourth is how to promote a development process that is sustainable, that is, one that is built on ecologically benign technologies and is not based on ever-rising material consumption per capita, though of course the spreading of material wealth via income redistribution is necessary to bring people out of poverty.

5. The fifth is how to avoid a technocrat-led process and promote instead the democratization of decision-making in all areas of the economy.

6. The sixth, related to the previous point, is how to move away from a statist process and institutionalize civil society participation in all key areas of economic decisionmaking. Civil society must not only provide a check to both the state and the market, but it must be the leading force in the new economics.

7. Finally, the last I would mention is how to undertake a process of regional integration that transcends the logic of capitalism, to borrow the words of Hugo Chavez.

I propose these as some of the key questions to guide our discussion of regional integration over the next two days.

Thank you.

*Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South. He is the author of 15 books, the latest of which is The Food Wars (New York: Verso, 2009).

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

transform! europe Newsletter 1/2011

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ampoule ecological projects, click education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

By Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier

 

 

On 15-16 January the Executive Board of the European Left Party gathered in Brussels for the first time after the party’s 3rd congress. During this meeting the main guidelines for a campaign aiming at the accomplishment of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity were adopted. In the debate, treatment Elisabeth Gauthier and Walter Baier submitted some of the findings of transform! europe’s continuing projects on the capitalist crisis.

 

A European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity which provides the states with cheap loans for jobcreating public investments into infrastructures, ecological projects, education and research would be a good thing to have. Yet, with regard to such a fund’s economic impact it is crucial how it is to be financed.

 

Social Democrats propose financing it via European bonds the EU would have to issue (Euro-Bonds). This European application of a classical Keynesian concept is not wrong in principle, on condition that the means mobilised that way are in fact used for public investments and not for servicing the debts. But we must not expect miracles from the Euro Bonds either. The crisis in different shapes which we have been facing since 2007 is no “Keynesian” crisis. To trace alternative strategies we must come to an understanding of the structural causes of the crisis. These can be traced back to the over-accumulation of capital and the crisis of profitability of the 1970s, as well as the subsequent neo-liberal response, the deregulations, the mass unemployment and the precarisation of labour which led to extreme inequalities of income and wealth with ordinary people facing deterioration in their living standards and an increase in poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and fragmentation of society.

 

From this follows that at the centre of any alternative economic strategy of development there is the question of redistribution of incomes and assets in favour of the majority of the populations and the public services. New revenues for public expenditures are necessary and also possible to be raised from taxation of incomes gained from finance and big property, from socially just tax reforms which stimulate the real economy, from a stop to tax reductions and a closure of the tax havens. Setting a different course will require a tenacious and long-term social and political struggle. We must make clear that the austerity programmes the states are now subjected to will only lead to slowing down the growth of the national debts but not to their reduction. The states find themselves in a debt trap.

 

Societies are meant to accept that they should pay interests to their creditors for an interminable time and with ever greater sacrifices. This process of exploitation must prompt us to question the legitimacy of the debts. We therefore advocate transparencycreating measures through the introduction of a public, democratic and transparent auditing of the public debts. This would reveal that the debts cannot merely be explained by corrupt and inefficient public administrations but that they are also the result of the wellknown neoliberal strategies, the policies of the banks and the imbalances in Europe.

 

Only within the framework of such investigations can a decision be made at the European level concerning the question of which parts of the public debt can be acknowledged and which need to be cancelled. One measure that needs to be taken immediately is a restructuring of the European banking sector, through its being subjected to public control and/or ownership.

 

We reject the austerity programmes that the top-level executives of the EU, the governments and the IMF want to impose on the populations of Europe. The destruction of the welfare state as well as the precarisation of labour aim at pitting the individual segments of the European populations against each other. It is these divisions and the undermining of democracy which are the toe-holds for the politics of the Right in their different shades and hues also including right extremism. The Left must oppose these politics with economic and social programmes of social cohesion and solidarity including the democratisation of the economy aiming at the construction of a large social bloc able to change the balance of the political forces.

 

Summary of the Document (Brussels, 15 January 1011)

European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity

 

The Executive Board of the European Left Party adopted at its meeting in January the roadmap concerning the implementation of the “Citizens’ Initiative” which was decided at the 3rd Congress in Paris (3-5 December 2010). This initiative consists in a process of participatory democracy in that it gives citizens the chance to make requests which makes possible alternative solutions to the current spiral of the deepening crisis. The initiative counteracts the logic of social regression by one of social development. It aims at overcoming the subordination of our lives to the financial markets by enabling progressive emancipation in all its power. Instead of the centralisation of decisions concerning the control of national budgets, we want to increase the implication of citizens and solidarity. To this end, what we demand is the creation of a European Fund for Social Development and Solidarity. This fund is intended to offer lowrate or even no-interest loans to governments for public investments meant to create employment and to boost education, research, public services, useful infrastructures and environmental projects. The originality of this fund lies in how it is to be financed: It is the product of a taxation on financial transactions, on a low-rate or even no-interest loans from the ECB so as to get rid of the domination of financial markets (money creation), while at the same time it provides a substantial contribution to the community budget.

 

In 2011 we must focus on creating the conditions to take up the ambitious challenge that the Party of the European Left is facing at European level. This mobilization involves awareness-raising initiatives, on the field and on the Internet (for this purpose a list of arguments will be elaborated and updated regularly) the whole year through and in various European capitals or major cities, the organisation of theme-based meetings with trade union representatives, militants from associations, experts, and at the same time big public conventions of a European dimension. The first of them, that will mark the public launch of this campaign, will take place in Athens on 11-13 March. Others will take place in Paris and Madrid in May and in Italy in July.

 

For the full version please refer to: http://www.european-left.org/nc/english/home/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/latestnews-

home/artikel/roadmap-of-el-campaign/

by Corporate Europe Observatory

19 January 2011

2011 may mark a watershed in the history of the European Union. Using the pretext of the “euro crisis”, rx the European Commission and the Council have put forward proposals to give the EU new powers to deal with core welfare issues, pills including social benefits and wages, under a new technocratic procedure –  hard (if not impossible) to track, let alone influence by those who stand to lose out. The proposals embody a corporate social and economic agenda which, if enacted, will constitute a “silent revolution” imposed from above, with no real democratic debate or popular participation.The proposed changes – which involve a series of proposed rules on ‘economic governance’ – have been welcomed by the EU’s key big business lobby groups, which see some of their traditional key lobby demands reflected in the changes. In particular, a new procedure to “correct macroeconomic imbalances” will break new ground, allowing decisions to be made at the EU-level on wage levels and social-service budgets for individual member states. The business lobby hopes that the new rules will complement the business friendly EU 2020 Strategy with strong enforcement measures.Despite the issues at stake, this “silent revolution” has so far received too little attention from a wider audience. There is an urgent need for a democratic debate throughout the EU, in particular on alternatives to the austere neoliberal model of ‘economic governance’ that is now being pushed by the Commission and the Council. And it will require a broad-based social struggle to make the alternatives a reality.


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