Trends in Southeast Asia: The politics of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Saturday,2014
A People’s SAARC protest in Kathmandu.

 
The 18th South Asian Associations for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit took place at Kathmandu, Nepal on November 25 and 26. The heads of the eight states of South Asia took part in the summit.
Kathmandu was a showcase of what has happened repeatedly in the three decades since the birth of the SAARC. Leaders make rhetorical speeches and spend time on expensive retreats and sightseeing — then head home forgetting what was said in the summit hall.
“SAARC remains largely ineffective, hostage to the political polemics of member-nations particularly India and Pakistan,” said Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of the International Relations department of Dhaka University.
A People’s SAARC summit was held as an alternative in Kathmandu from November 22-25. About 5000 social and political activists took part its opening ceremony on November 22. There were 71 workshops held to discuss an alternative agenda for SAARC heads of the state to consider.
It was organised by People’s SAARC Steering Committee, made up of 14 leading activists from all eight countries of the region.
Three agreements were supposed to be signed at the 18th SAARC summit to improve road and rail connections, and integrate power trade in the region.
The eight-member countries of SAARC are India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Since its inception in 1985, SAARC signed a number of agreements and conventions, but faltered in translating ideas into collective actions.
For an instance, the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was inked in 1987, within two years of the group’s birth. Extra protocols to the convention updated the strategies in 2004. But, in reality, it was not effective, as several South Asian nations have seen a rise in terrorism.
There are other examples as well. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement, which was finalised in 1993, came into effect in 1995. It was followed by the South Asian Free Trade Agreement in 2004. But those remain unimplemented, as issues of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers are yet to be addressed.
Moreover, the SAARC Food Bank Agreement was signed in 2007, but it is yet to be implemented. SAARC Development Fund was constituted in 2008 and SAARC Seed Bank in 2011, but none of those has seen much success.
Two of the important SAARC countries, Pakistan and India have been close to war on several occasions during the last 30 years of its existence. Border clashes have become a norm in recent months particularly since Indian Prime Minister Nardner Modi has come into power in India.
Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Modi both shook hands and spoke informally for five minutes. That was all what they had to offer each other. The two nuclear-armed nations have already broken the thread of negotiation earlier this year after some clashes at the border of Kashmir, a territory both countries claim as their own.
The SAARC summit failed to address the growing threat posed by religious fundamentalists groups. The ascendance of religious extremism and intolerance is a serious challenge to democracy in the region.
Pluralism and diversity, which are the hallmark of the region, are under threat from such groups, which often enjoy overt or covert patronage from the state. Women’s rights and other freedoms are the first to be targeted by extremist groups.
The region is fraught with conflicts. Security is diminishing and governments’ militaristic response, far from resolving these conflicts, is undermining the rule of law and increasing insecurity.
The number of conflict-induced internally displaced persons and refugees in the region have spiraled.
People’s rights have deteriorated in recent years, in particular, to freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to protest.
Freedom of press remains threatened and the independence of the media is seriously compromised by the growing influence and control of vested interests, including the corporate sector.
The preparation for this SAARC summit was going on for months in one of the poorest country in the region. In Kathmandu, there was a big drive to clean most roads on the way to venue. The ruling elite in all SAARC countries very fond of the impressionist strategy of cleaning the roads prior to such meetings.
It will be business as usual after the event is over. I personally saw soldiers cleaning the roads of Kathmandu three days before the main event. This is a rare scene in most countries of South Asia. Soldiers are normally there to rule, not clean the streets.
The People’s SAARC summit issued a joint declaration after holding all of its seminars, workshops and other events to formulate a joint strategy and point of view. It reaffirmed commitments to justice, peace, security, human rights and democracy in the region on the basis of equality for all and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
The declaration said that peoples must unite to challenge the systematic and structural marginalisation and exclusion of people through the dominant neoliberal economic model.
This model is violently restructuring the region’s economic policies and cultural life, and undermining and devaluing the values and institutions of democracy.
We have come together to resist the threat to democracy from chauvinism, sectarianism, and communalism. Increased securitisation and militarisation of states and society in the name of combating terrorism and defending national security and increasing arbitrary detention, torture, custodial rape and extra-judicial killings have reduced space for democratic dissent and freedoms.
We have come together to respond to new challenges that have emerged in the form of climate change and environmental degradation which are of transnational dimensions; extraction of natural resources; food, water and energy crisis; and resource grab by governments and corporates.
We must fight growing violence against women and girls, lower caste members, various tribal groups and indigenous peoples. Must must oppose discrimination against all minorities, including religious, sexual, linguistic, cultural and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees.
The systematic and structural processes and practices of discrimination further reinforce and reconstitute traditional forms of exploitative and oppressive structures. This includes patriarchy and caste, which are recreated in new forms, in the name of progress, modernisation and reform.
The People’s SAARC noted the renewed focus on SAARC by member countries and believes its stated goals of “deeper integration for peace and prosperity” is possible only when this cooperation goes beyond the interests of regional elites and corporations.
It must allow socio-economic empowerment and enable the people of South Asia to build their regional identity. It must push just and sustainable development towards re-shaping the democratic institutions.
The official SAARC summit issued a long statement filled with empty word on issues of regional cooperation, combating terrorism, poverty alleviation, development goals, food security, the environment, women’s rights and access to health and education.
The South Asian region features some of the world’s worst human development indicators. According to conservative estimates, 44% of the population of India lives in poverty on less than US$1 a day.
In Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the statistics are slightly better — at 38%, 31% and 29% respectively. In Bhutan and Afghanistan, where data is unavailable, the proportion of people living on US$1 a day or less is likely comparable with India in Bhutan’s case and much higher in Afghanistan.
Internationally, South Asia has the worst indicators for female illiteracy and has very poor rates of child mortality.
The reason is simple. All the countries of South Asia are implementing neoliberal agendas. They are busy in privatising and taking loans from International Monetary Fund and World Bank that come with neoliberal conditions.
Capitalism in all the countries has ensured there is a great divide among the population. Some of the world’s most most rich people can be found in India as well as the most poor. Feudalism remain intact in various forms, while religious fundamentalism has emerged one of the region’s most threatening challenges.
In India and Pakistan, there is race to increase military spending and other countries are not far behind. There is no education for all, but Indian and Pakistani rulers are proud to be part of so-called nuclear nation club.
The SAARC process has become a laughing stock despite the high expectations the summit built after the friendly gestures from all the head of the states.
It is the process of the People’s SAARC that can have a positive effect by bringing together the real representatives of the people. An integrated, nuclear-free, nuclear free South Asia is still a dream to be realised.
 
[Farooq Tariq is a member of the core committee of the People’s SAARC and is general secretary of Pakistan’s Awami Workers Party.]
 
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By Tang Siew Mun
 
Asia needs US$8.22 trillion to fund its infrastructure investment from 2010 to 2020, and existing lending institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are unable to meet these requirements. Asia’s annual funding requirement of US$747.5 billion is 4.5 times more than the ADB’s subscribed capital.
 
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) can potentially provide up to US$30 billion of funding a year. This would be on average three times more than the loans approved by the ADB in 2011–13.
 
Every geographical region — except North and Central America — is represented in the AIIB. The United States and Japan are the only East Asia Summit members not in the AIIB. Japan is also the only major Asian economy that has not committed to joining.
 
The participation of European countries transforms the AIIB from a regional institution with a singular power base (China) to an entity that is broad-based and inclusive. The “European weight” was particularly important in redressing the institutional imbalance skewed in China’s favour and may reduce small states’ concerns about Chinese domination.
 
Washington’s response to the AIIB initiative has been a strategic misreading that failed to anticipate its allies’ reactions in warming up to and eventually supporting the proposal. East Asian countries will now be watching what effect the Chinese initiative and American non-participation will have on the U.S. rebalance to Asia.
 
The AIIB effectively breaks the American, European and Japanese monopoly on global financing, and concomitantly provides China with a new mechanism to expand its political influence in the region and make a bid for regional leadership. It signals the changing order in Asia.
 
China’s management of the AIIB will indicate to Southeast Asia how China exercises its large and still growing power. Whether China will opt for just and benevolent leadership or one exercised with an iron fist will decide the region’s perceptions of China.
 
In bankrolling the AIIB, China is stepping up to assume its responsibility as a major power in committing financial resources, having political will, and espousing a long-term view and sustained interest to drive and lead regional development.
 
See paper here

Nepal: People's SAARC challenges regional elite's agenda

Saturday, December 6, 2014
A People’s SAARC protest in Kathmandu.

 
The 18th South Asian Associations for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit took place at Kathmandu, Nepal on November 25 and 26. The heads of the eight states of South Asia took part in the summit.
Kathmandu was a showcase of what has happened repeatedly in the three decades since the birth of the SAARC. Leaders make rhetorical speeches and spend time on expensive retreats and sightseeing — then head home forgetting what was said in the summit hall.
“SAARC remains largely ineffective, hostage to the political polemics of member-nations particularly India and Pakistan,” said Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of the International Relations department of Dhaka University.
A People’s SAARC summit was held as an alternative in Kathmandu from November 22-25. About 5000 social and political activists took part its opening ceremony on November 22. There were 71 workshops held to discuss an alternative agenda for SAARC heads of the state to consider.
It was organised by People’s SAARC Steering Committee, made up of 14 leading activists from all eight countries of the region.
Three agreements were supposed to be signed at the 18th SAARC summit to improve road and rail connections, and integrate power trade in the region.
The eight-member countries of SAARC are India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Since its inception in 1985, SAARC signed a number of agreements and conventions, but faltered in translating ideas into collective actions.
For an instance, the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was inked in 1987, within two years of the group’s birth. Extra protocols to the convention updated the strategies in 2004. But, in reality, it was not effective, as several South Asian nations have seen a rise in terrorism.
There are other examples as well. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement, which was finalised in 1993, came into effect in 1995. It was followed by the South Asian Free Trade Agreement in 2004. But those remain unimplemented, as issues of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers are yet to be addressed.
Moreover, the SAARC Food Bank Agreement was signed in 2007, but it is yet to be implemented. SAARC Development Fund was constituted in 2008 and SAARC Seed Bank in 2011, but none of those has seen much success.
Two of the important SAARC countries, Pakistan and India have been close to war on several occasions during the last 30 years of its existence. Border clashes have become a norm in recent months particularly since Indian Prime Minister Nardner Modi has come into power in India.
Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Modi both shook hands and spoke informally for five minutes. That was all what they had to offer each other. The two nuclear-armed nations have already broken the thread of negotiation earlier this year after some clashes at the border of Kashmir, a territory both countries claim as their own.
The SAARC summit failed to address the growing threat posed by religious fundamentalists groups. The ascendance of religious extremism and intolerance is a serious challenge to democracy in the region.
Pluralism and diversity, which are the hallmark of the region, are under threat from such groups, which often enjoy overt or covert patronage from the state. Women’s rights and other freedoms are the first to be targeted by extremist groups.
The region is fraught with conflicts. Security is diminishing and governments’ militaristic response, far from resolving these conflicts, is undermining the rule of law and increasing insecurity.
The number of conflict-induced internally displaced persons and refugees in the region have spiraled.
People’s rights have deteriorated in recent years, in particular, to freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to protest.
Freedom of press remains threatened and the independence of the media is seriously compromised by the growing influence and control of vested interests, including the corporate sector.
The preparation for this SAARC summit was going on for months in one of the poorest country in the region. In Kathmandu, there was a big drive to clean most roads on the way to venue. The ruling elite in all SAARC countries very fond of the impressionist strategy of cleaning the roads prior to such meetings.
It will be business as usual after the event is over. I personally saw soldiers cleaning the roads of Kathmandu three days before the main event. This is a rare scene in most countries of South Asia. Soldiers are normally there to rule, not clean the streets.
The People’s SAARC summit issued a joint declaration after holding all of its seminars, workshops and other events to formulate a joint strategy and point of view. It reaffirmed commitments to justice, peace, security, human rights and democracy in the region on the basis of equality for all and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
The declaration said that peoples must unite to challenge the systematic and structural marginalisation and exclusion of people through the dominant neoliberal economic model.
This model is violently restructuring the region’s economic policies and cultural life, and undermining and devaluing the values and institutions of democracy.
We have come together to resist the threat to democracy from chauvinism, sectarianism, and communalism. Increased securitisation and militarisation of states and society in the name of combating terrorism and defending national security and increasing arbitrary detention, torture, custodial rape and extra-judicial killings have reduced space for democratic dissent and freedoms.
We have come together to respond to new challenges that have emerged in the form of climate change and environmental degradation which are of transnational dimensions; extraction of natural resources; food, water and energy crisis; and resource grab by governments and corporates.
We must fight growing violence against women and girls, lower caste members, various tribal groups and indigenous peoples. Must must oppose discrimination against all minorities, including religious, sexual, linguistic, cultural and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees.
The systematic and structural processes and practices of discrimination further reinforce and reconstitute traditional forms of exploitative and oppressive structures. This includes patriarchy and caste, which are recreated in new forms, in the name of progress, modernisation and reform.
The People’s SAARC noted the renewed focus on SAARC by member countries and believes its stated goals of “deeper integration for peace and prosperity” is possible only when this cooperation goes beyond the interests of regional elites and corporations.
It must allow socio-economic empowerment and enable the people of South Asia to build their regional identity. It must push just and sustainable development towards re-shaping the democratic institutions.
The official SAARC summit issued a long statement filled with empty word on issues of regional cooperation, combating terrorism, poverty alleviation, development goals, food security, the environment, women’s rights and access to health and education.
The South Asian region features some of the world’s worst human development indicators. According to conservative estimates, 44% of the population of India lives in poverty on less than US$1 a day.
In Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the statistics are slightly better — at 38%, 31% and 29% respectively. In Bhutan and Afghanistan, where data is unavailable, the proportion of people living on US$1 a day or less is likely comparable with India in Bhutan’s case and much higher in Afghanistan.
Internationally, South Asia has the worst indicators for female illiteracy and has very poor rates of child mortality.
The reason is simple. All the countries of South Asia are implementing neoliberal agendas. They are busy in privatising and taking loans from International Monetary Fund and World Bank that come with neoliberal conditions.
Capitalism in all the countries has ensured there is a great divide among the population. Some of the world’s most most rich people can be found in India as well as the most poor. Feudalism remain intact in various forms, while religious fundamentalism has emerged one of the region’s most threatening challenges.
In India and Pakistan, there is race to increase military spending and other countries are not far behind. There is no education for all, but Indian and Pakistani rulers are proud to be part of so-called nuclear nation club.
The SAARC process has become a laughing stock despite the high expectations the summit built after the friendly gestures from all the head of the states.
It is the process of the People’s SAARC that can have a positive effect by bringing together the real representatives of the people. An integrated, nuclear-free, nuclear free South Asia is still a dream to be realised.
 
[Farooq Tariq is a member of the core committee of the People’s SAARC and is general secretary of Pakistan’s Awami Workers Party.]
 
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Economic integration for whom?

Nepal: People’s SAARC challenges regional elite’s agenda

Saturday,December 6, 2014
A People’s SAARC protest in Kathmandu.

The 18th South Asian Associations for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit took place at Kathmandu, Nepal on November 25 and 26. The heads of the eight states of South Asia took part in the summit.
Kathmandu was a showcase of what has happened repeatedly in the three decades since the birth of the SAARC. Leaders make rhetorical speeches and spend time on expensive retreats and sightseeing — then head home forgetting what was said in the summit hall.
“SAARC remains largely ineffective, hostage to the political polemics of member-nations particularly India and Pakistan,” said Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of the International Relations department of Dhaka University.
A People’s SAARC summit was held as an alternative in Kathmandu from November 22-25. About 5000 social and political activists took part its opening ceremony on November 22. There were 71 workshops held to discuss an alternative agenda for SAARC heads of the state to consider.
It was organised by People’s SAARC Steering Committee, made up of 14 leading activists from all eight countries of the region.
Three agreements were supposed to be signed at the 18th SAARC summit to improve road and rail connections, and integrate power trade in the region.
The eight-member countries of SAARC are India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Since its inception in 1985, SAARC signed a number of agreements and conventions, but faltered in translating ideas into collective actions.
For an instance, the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was inked in 1987, within two years of the group’s birth. Extra protocols to the convention updated the strategies in 2004. But, in reality, it was not effective, as several South Asian nations have seen a rise in terrorism.
There are other examples as well. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement, which was finalised in 1993, came into effect in 1995. It was followed by the South Asian Free Trade Agreement in 2004. But those remain unimplemented, as issues of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers are yet to be addressed.
Moreover, the SAARC Food Bank Agreement was signed in 2007, but it is yet to be implemented. SAARC Development Fund was constituted in 2008 and SAARC Seed Bank in 2011, but none of those has seen much success.
Two of the important SAARC countries, Pakistan and India have been close to war on several occasions during the last 30 years of its existence. Border clashes have become a norm in recent months particularly since Indian Prime Minister Nardner Modi has come into power in India.
Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Modi both shook hands and spoke informally for five minutes. That was all what they had to offer each other. The two nuclear-armed nations have already broken the thread of negotiation earlier this year after some clashes at the border of Kashmir, a territory both countries claim as their own.
The SAARC summit failed to address the growing threat posed by religious fundamentalists groups. The ascendance of religious extremism and intolerance is a serious challenge to democracy in the region.
Pluralism and diversity, which are the hallmark of the region, are under threat from such groups, which often enjoy overt or covert patronage from the state. Women’s rights and other freedoms are the first to be targeted by extremist groups.
The region is fraught with conflicts. Security is diminishing and governments’ militaristic response, far from resolving these conflicts, is undermining the rule of law and increasing insecurity.
The number of conflict-induced internally displaced persons and refugees in the region have spiraled.
People’s rights have deteriorated in recent years, in particular, to freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to protest.
Freedom of press remains threatened and the independence of the media is seriously compromised by the growing influence and control of vested interests, including the corporate sector.
The preparation for this SAARC summit was going on for months in one of the poorest country in the region. In Kathmandu, there was a big drive to clean most roads on the way to venue. The ruling elite in all SAARC countries very fond of the impressionist strategy of cleaning the roads prior to such meetings.
It will be business as usual after the event is over. I personally saw soldiers cleaning the roads of Kathmandu three days before the main event. This is a rare scene in most countries of South Asia. Soldiers are normally there to rule, not clean the streets.
The People’s SAARC summit issued a joint declaration after holding all of its seminars, workshops and other events to formulate a joint strategy and point of view. It reaffirmed commitments to justice, peace, security, human rights and democracy in the region on the basis of equality for all and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
The declaration said that peoples must unite to challenge the systematic and structural marginalisation and exclusion of people through the dominant neoliberal economic model.
This model is violently restructuring the region’s economic policies and cultural life, and undermining and devaluing the values and institutions of democracy.
We have come together to resist the threat to democracy from chauvinism, sectarianism, and communalism. Increased securitisation and militarisation of states and society in the name of combating terrorism and defending national security and increasing arbitrary detention, torture, custodial rape and extra-judicial killings have reduced space for democratic dissent and freedoms.
We have come together to respond to new challenges that have emerged in the form of climate change and environmental degradation which are of transnational dimensions; extraction of natural resources; food, water and energy crisis; and resource grab by governments and corporates.
We must fight growing violence against women and girls, lower caste members, various tribal groups and indigenous peoples. Must must oppose discrimination against all minorities, including religious, sexual, linguistic, cultural and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees.
The systematic and structural processes and practices of discrimination further reinforce and reconstitute traditional forms of exploitative and oppressive structures. This includes patriarchy and caste, which are recreated in new forms, in the name of progress, modernisation and reform.
The People’s SAARC noted the renewed focus on SAARC by member countries and believes its stated goals of “deeper integration for peace and prosperity” is possible only when this cooperation goes beyond the interests of regional elites and corporations.
It must allow socio-economic empowerment and enable the people of South Asia to build their regional identity. It must push just and sustainable development towards re-shaping the democratic institutions.
The official SAARC summit issued a long statement filled with empty word on issues of regional cooperation, combating terrorism, poverty alleviation, development goals, food security, the environment, women’s rights and access to health and education.
The South Asian region features some of the world’s worst human development indicators. According to conservative estimates, 44% of the population of India lives in poverty on less than US$1 a day.
In Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the statistics are slightly better — at 38%, 31% and 29% respectively. In Bhutan and Afghanistan, where data is unavailable, the proportion of people living on US$1 a day or less is likely comparable with India in Bhutan’s case and much higher in Afghanistan.
Internationally, South Asia has the worst indicators for female illiteracy and has very poor rates of child mortality.
The reason is simple. All the countries of South Asia are implementing neoliberal agendas. They are busy in privatising and taking loans from International Monetary Fund and World Bank that come with neoliberal conditions.
Capitalism in all the countries has ensured there is a great divide among the population. Some of the world’s most most rich people can be found in India as well as the most poor. Feudalism remain intact in various forms, while religious fundamentalism has emerged one of the region’s most threatening challenges.
In India and Pakistan, there is race to increase military spending and other countries are not far behind. There is no education for all, but Indian and Pakistani rulers are proud to be part of so-called nuclear nation club.
The SAARC process has become a laughing stock despite the high expectations the summit built after the friendly gestures from all the head of the states.
It is the process of the People’s SAARC that can have a positive effect by bringing together the real representatives of the people. An integrated, nuclear-free, nuclear free South Asia is still a dream to be realised.

[Farooq Tariq is a member of the core committee of the People’s SAARC and is general secretary of Pakistan’s Awami Workers Party.]

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por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/
por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/
por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/
por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/
por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/


por Marcelo Saguier
El artículo analiza las condiciones en las que la UNASUR podría facilitar una estrategia regional de aprovechamiento de la minería para el desarrollo integral. Ello depende de que logre fortalecer las capacidades de los estados de intervenir en el mercado de minerales, regular la minería y democratizar las políticas mineras.

Descargar de: http://rrii.flacso.org.ar/Doc/mineria-para-el-desarrollo-integral-en-la-estrategia-de-unasur/


By Dorothy Grace Guerrero
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is less than one year away from launching its Economic Community or AEC, a common market that will comprise 600 million people and have a combined GDP of nearly US$2 trillion (64 trillion baht).
It is being propped up by free trade and investment agreements with the European Union, the United States, Japan, China and other big partners. Proponents claim the expansion in economic activities will benefit the poor by boosting production and consumption in the region, but is it that simple?
Economic forecasts for the 10 Asean economies are positive; the OECD expects average annual GDP growth of over 5% from 2014 to 2018, with Indonesia reaching 6% growth, and the Philippines at 5.8%.
The Asean Blueprint for economic integration under the AEC, signed in 2007 by Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, envisaged our full integration into the global economy. To pursue this, leaders committed to establishing free-market policies for goods, services, investment, money and labour.
So far, this road map isn’t boosting democracy and socio-economic development. The free flow of investment isn’t really promoting people’s well being, or protecting human rights and realising environmental security. The regulations removed by liberalisation are the same ones that used to protect domestic industries, workers, the environment, and consumers.
The experiences of CLMV countries show that unchecked foreign investment leads to land grabbing and natural resource loss. Many developing nations are now learning the bitter lesson that free trade does not operate on a level playing field and the rules always favour rich countries.
Myanmar is about to host the Asean Summit for the first time. The country is now the prime target of transnational corporations eager to open up its market and exploit its resources.
Myanmar’s accession to the AEC effectively completes Asean’s total submission to the regulations of neoliberal capitalism and the principles, policies and processes of economic liberalisation, as well as the commodification and financialisation of irreplaceable natural resources.
The first Asean People’s Forum/Asean Civil Society Conference is taking place in Yangon right now with more than 1,200 representatives from local organisations, NGOs, and advocacy groups that will discuss the gaps in regional community building and the need to make the bloc more responsive to poor people’s needs.
Indeed, many in the region have been critical of the Asean model of economic integration as governments are losing their policy space to protect and nurture domestic industries, which leads to the de-industrialisation of the more advanced capitalist economies and condemns the rest to the status of underdevelopment.
The race to the bottom is making it harder for countries to protect local farmers that are producing food and their infant industries that are producing goods for domestic use as well as for export.
The corporate takeover of governance of the commons and the rolling back of hard-won rights to local access and management of land, forests and water are undermining human rights standards. Unelected and unaccountable negotiators and consultants, often employed by corporations, trade away our rights in exchange for corporate profits.
Our current methods of wealth production rely on dispossessing the poor and criminalising or oppressing those who promote rights-based development. This scenario worsens poverty and inequality. The region’s record on protecting social, environmental and labour standards is poor, and neoliberal market reforms would make it worse.
Asean countries already have high rates of socio-economic inequality. Thailand, among the most prosperous in the region, is now ranked as the most unequal in Asia, and 12th worldwide, followed by Singapore (29th), Malaysia (33rd), the Philippines (36th), and Cambodia (45th).
Despite the huge amount of wealth swirling in the region, around 66 million people are still living below the poverty threshold in Asean-6 countries and 20 million in CLMV.
Clearly, the model is not working. It’s time to recognise that development can only be sustainable when governments can use their economic policies to pursue national interests, protect and promote local industries, pursue redistribution through equal access to quality public services like education, health, electricity, water and sanitation. Asean countries have a long way to go in this respect.
Dorothy Grace Guerrero is a senior programme officer at Focus on the Global South. More information is at focusweb.org

Article found at:http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/400965/economic-integration-for-whom

The EU as a template for ASEAN?

Por Kintto Lucas

En su genial novela El año de la muerte de Ricardo Reis, José Saramago señala “A esta ciudad le basta saber que la rosa de los vientos existe, este no es el lugar donde los rumbos se abren, tampoco es el punto magnífico donde los rumbos convergen, aquí precisamente cambian los rumbos”.

Trasladando las palabras de Saramago al sistema mundo, como diría Immanuel Wallerstein, podríamos decir que cambiarán los rumbos el día que construyamos un sistema mundial multipolar que contribuya a crear un mundo democrático, justo y equitativo.

En ese necesario cambio de rumbos, la integración es un objetivo estratégico para lograr la independencia de América Latina. En ese sentido, es importante fortalecer los distintos niveles de integración y consolidar un bloque suramericano y latinoamericano.

América del Sur vive un momento importante en términos de integración regional, capitalizada más claramente en la Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas). Un bloque que más allá de las diferencias políticas o económicas de los países que lo integran, ha logrado levantarse como espacio de acuerdos y entendimientos desde la diversidad y ha generado un proceso integrador diferente.

Unasur es la propuesta más importante de integración desde toda América del Sur. Las que surgieron antes, además de ser regionales fueron condicionadas por el libre comercio, porque apostaban a eso, no a la integración.

El Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur), por ejemplo, fue una propuesta surgida desde el libre comercio desde el neoliberalismo. Si bien luego fue procesando cambios positivos con la irrupción de gobiernos progresistas y es una confluencia fundamental, todavía le falta mucho para consolidarse como Mercosur Suramericano, que sea eje de un modelo de integración productiva de Américas del Sur dentro de Unasur.
La CAN (Comunidad Andina de Naciones), en cambio, surgió como una propuesta integradora distinta, pero finalmente terminó absorbida por la hegemonía neoliberal en los años 90.

Unasur surgió de una forma diferente, y se posicionó como una propuesta de integración desde lo político, llevando adelante acciones trascendentes para solucionar conflictos, consolidar una mirada de defensa de la democracia en común, fortalecer políticas de defensa y sociales integradoras, e inclusive posicionándose como un bloque a tener en cuenta a nivel mundial en el desarrollo de un mundo multipolar.

Unasur ha demostrado que, dentro de las diferencias, se puede llegar a ciertos acuerdos que parten de un punto central: para competir, para ser escuchados en un mundo que va a ser de bloques, tenemos que participar como un todo más compacto, que en este caso es el bloque de América del Sur.

Por ejemplo, el acuerdo del Consejo de Defensa en Unasur, de transparentar gastos militares, de parar la instalación de bases militares estadounidenses, son temas que se han resuelto, con discrepancias pero finalmente llegando a ciertos consensos. También a nivel económico, hubo algunos acuerdos, desde los presidentes, quienes creían que Unasur debía jugar un papel importante para enfrentar la crisis económica internacional en conjunto. Lamentablemente los ministros de Economía han desentonado.

Ahora es necesario consolidar Unasur como bloque de poder e interlocución mundial. Y dentro de ese proceso es fundamental consolidar la institucionalidad de Unasur en sus diferentes instancias, y particularmente la Secretaría General.

Néstor Kirchner, cuando fue secretario general, puso las bases políticas de la Secretaría. Ecuador, cuando fue Presidencia Pro Tempore puso las bases materiales y constitutivas, y le dio institucionalidad. Ema Mejía y Alí Rodríguez consolidaron la institucionalidad. Rodríguez, además, aportó una base teórico-práctica a Unasur con su propuesta sobre los recursos naturales como eje integrador. Es necesario consolidar la gestión de Unasur desde la Secretaría, para fortalecer las acciones del bloque a nivel regional y mundial.

Por su parte la Celac (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños), surgió con la necesidad de consolidar un espacio amplio que promueva un proceso integrador desde la pluralidad latinoamericana, desde procesos más diversos y complejos, pero sin la tutela de Estados Unidos.

Mientras la OEA (Organización de Estados Americanos) surgió como la opción de un determinado momento histórico en que los países vivían sometidos al “liderazgo” de Estados Unidos, que en realidad era una imposición desde ese país, Celac y Unasur surgieron desde los propios países latinoamericanos y suramericanos. La OEA fue un proceso de imposición, Unasur y Celac son, con todas sus dificultades, procesos de integración.

El Alba (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América), que surgió como una propuesta frente a otro intento de imposición estadounidense como el Alca (Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas), ha implementado procesos de complementariedad y solidaridad creando propuestas de integración productiva interesantes. Es necesario establecer un puente entre el Mercosur y el Alba, buscando instancias de cooperación y complementación. Uruguay podría ser un país puente entre el Mercosur y el Alba promoviendo la cooperación y complementación. Uruguay debe fortalecer el Mercosur y fortalecerse en el Mercosur, y paralelamente consolidar su presencia en el Alba y actuar como puente Alba-Mercosur.

Un gran reto en Unasur y en todos los niveles de integración, es involucrar a las organizaciones sociales y a los movimientos sociales en una confluencia desde abajo, desde los pueblos. Obviamente no todas las organizaciones sociales representan al pueblo en general pero sí son instancias importantes que dan base social a los procesos integradores. Si no se produce una integración desde los pueblos, si no hay una integración cultural y de procesos culturales conjuntos de los países, es muy difícil consolidar un proceso integrador de largo plazo.

El mayor enemigo de la integración es el modelo de desarrollo. En este momento los procesos de integración están en medio de dos modelos de desarrollo que se encuentran en disputa. Un modelo de desarrollo que es más soberano, vinculado a la producción nacional, con la idea de cambiar la matriz productiva y dejar de ser solo países primarios exportadores, con una visión desde el sur, desde nuestros países. El otro modelo, por ahora hegemónico, apuesta al libre comercio mal entendido, donde quienes dirigen el mercado terminan siendo las grandes corporaciones, la política comercial se basa en los tratados de libre comercio con las grandes potencias, tratados neocoloniales que van contra la integración y la política económica favorecen la especulación financiera, las importaciones y el consumismo. Ese modelo de desarrollo a veces disfrazado de progresista es el mayor enemigo de la integración. Si no es derrotado a nivel regional y dentro de cada uno de nuestros países no habrá integración y seremos cada día más dependientes. Ahí seguramente recordemos aquella frase del final de Ensayo sobre la ceguera de Saramago cuando dice “Creo que no nos quedamos ciegos, creo que estamos ciegos, Ciegos que ven, Ciegos que, viendo, no ven”.

 

Lee el articulo completo aqui.

Marcelo Saguier

ALAI AMLATINA, 27/07/2012.- Los procesos de integración regional en Sudamérica han dado importantes pasos en la construcción de una comunidad política en base a valores y expectativas comunes. La defensa de la democracia, la resolución de conflictos mediante la diplomacia, el resguardo de la paz y la reivindicación conjunta de la soberanía argentina sobre las islas Malvinas ante los diferendos con el Reino Unido han sido algunos de campos en donde se logró alcanzar un inédito dinamismo y convergencia regional. Muchos de estos consensos acompañaron el surgimiento de nuevas formas institucionales como la UNASUR, ALBA y la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericana y Caribeños (CELAC).

No obstante tales avances, existe otra dimensión del proceso regional en la que es menos evidente que consensos se expresan. Las dinámicas de la región, como espacio socio-político en construcción, actualmente está regida por los patrones de conflictos y cooperación entre gobiernos, empresas y actores sociales en torno a la utilización de los recursos naturales para fines de exportación y de insumos para la industria. Este es el caso de los recursos minerales y del agua de ríos para la generación de energía hidroeléctrica. A diferencia de las avances alcanzados en materia de construcción política regional en otros campos, el lugar que hoy ocupan los recursos naturales en la integración es más inquietante y potencialmente una fuente de tensiones.

Las políticas de utilización de tales recursos, y los conflictos socio-ambientales que se producen por las mismas, en su mayoría son de carácter nacional o sub-nacional. Sin embargo, al mismo tiempo se despliegan algunas iniciativas de carácter regional impulsadas por gobiernos o por actores sociales que regionalizan sus disputas como estrategias de acción frente a la orientación extractivista de algunos proyectos. Es decir que las dinámicas socio-políticas de construcción de un espacio político regional en Sudamérica van más allá de las distintas iniciativas intergubernamentales que se puedan emprender desde los estados. Los recursos naturales constituyen un eje de articulación tanto para iniciativas de cooperación interestatal como también para la movilización social transfronteriza.

La propuesta de este articulo es la de pensar las dinámicas de la construcción política regional desde ésta perspectiva, en la que las interacciones de cooperación y conflicto entre actores públicos, empresariales y sociales moldean el escenario regional, sus posibilidades y limitaciones.

La minería en zonas de frontera es una de las formas que se redefine el escenario social y político regional. El caso más paradigmático de ello es la frontera entre Argentina y Chile. Tradicionalmente, las fronteras internacionales eran zonas en donde no se permitía emprendimientos productivos (o extractivos) dado que constituían lugares sensibles a la defensa del territorio nacional. Los procesos de democratización e integración económica llevados a cabo en la región permitieron desactivar las hipótesis de conflicto que fundamentaron el imaginario geopolítico de gobiernos y sociedades nacionales durante gran parte del siglo veinte. Sin embargo, estos cambios estuvieron asimismo signados por la orientación neoliberal que marcó las políticas de integración durante la década del 90. Una de las características de ello fue el establecimiento de nuevas mecanismos institucionales para atraer y resguardar inversiones. La minería de frontera entre Argentina y Chile es producto de ello, y su expresión más acabada es el acuerdo binacional minero que fuera firmado en 1997 y ratificado en los parlamentos en el 2000.

El territorio comprendido por el acuerdo binacional cubre un área sobre la cordillera de los Andes de más de 200.000 kilómetros cuadrados, lo que equivale al 95% de la frontera internacional de ambos países. El acuerdo concede a las empresas la disponibilidad de minerales y agua para sus procesos de extracción, así como poder de control fronterizo. Pascua Lama es el proyecto binacional de megaminería que fue posible con este acuerdo. Las empresas que desarrollan el proyecto son: Barrick Exploraciones Argentina y Exploraciones Mineras Argentinas, en la Republica Argentina, y Compañía Minera Nevada en Chile. Otros proyectos mineros ya han sido aprobados, amparados en el tratado binacional, se encuentran actualmente en diferentes etapas de desarrollo. Entre ellos, está el proyecto El Pachón en la provincia de San Juan.

El acuerdo minero binacional consiste en un modelo de integración territorial y representa un hito internacional, considerando la extensión del área cubierta, los volúmenes de minerales e inversiones que potencialmente se verían implicados y la posible replicabilidad de este modelo en otras zonas de frontera con comparables condiciones geológicas. Evidentemente, la replicabilidad de este enfoque para la explotación conjunta de depósitos minerales en zonas de jurisdicción nacional compartida está expuesta también a los vaivenes de las presiones sociales frente al extractivismo y al creciente grado de concientización sobre la necesidad de fundar nuevos paradigmas del desarrollo con criterios de sostenibilidad.

La tendencia de minería de frontera se confirma asimismo en otros países latinoamericanos sin que exista necesariamente ningún acuerdo entre los países. Este es caso de los proyectos de exploración minera que actualmente tienen lugar en la frontera de Costa Rica y Nicaragua, de El Salvador y Guatemala y de Perú y Ecuador en la llamada Cordillera del Cóndor – región que en 1995 fue epicentro de un conflicto bélico entre ambos países. En este ultimo caso, desde la resolución del conflicto bélico han habido grandes inversiones mineras atraídas por la riqueza de de yacimientos de oro de este lugar. Incluso sin un acuerdo minero entre ambos países, entre 2005 y 2010 se han triplicado el número de concesiones de exploración a empresas interesadas, en su mayoría del lado peruano de la frontera. Las empresas transnacionales mineras sin duda constituyen actores de creciente influencia en la redefinición del espacio regional y es de suponer que asimismo constituyen factores de influencia en los gobiernos para promover acuerdos mineros internacionales (los gobiernos de Alan García en Perú y Correa en Ecuador habían comenzado a explorar esta posibilidad).

La minería en zonas de frontera contribuye a regionalizar conflictos que se suscitan desde hace años en toda América Latina. Son conocidas las expresiones de resistencia a proyectos mineros llevados a por comunidades rurales en distintas provincias argentinas como Chubut, San Juan, Catamarca, La Rioja y Tucumán. Sin embargo, éstos no son casos aislados sino que se enmarcan en una tendencia generalizada de creciente conflictividad en zonas de exploración minera. Evidencia de ello es que actualmente existen 155 conflictos relacionados a esta actividad en todo Latinoamérica y el Caribe, en las que se ven implicadas 205 comunidades en relación a 168 proyectos mineros. Asimismo, según un informe a cargo del ex Representante Especial del Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas, John Ruggie, las industrias extractivas representan el 28 % de los casos de los casos de violaciones a los Derechos Humanos con complicidad de las empresas. Esta tendencia global se profundiza en América Latina. Un elemento común a tales conflictos es la ausencia de debate público sobre los cuáles son los beneficios y costos de estos proyectos – definidos en términos económicos, sociales y ambientales – así de cómo arbitrar equitativamente los derechos y responsabilidades de los principales beneficiarios y damnificados de los mismos. Las comunidades tampoco son consultadas previamente, según lo establece el Convenio 169 de la OIT, sin bien algunos cambios en esta dirección comienzan a promoverse en Bolivia, Perú y Ecuador.

Las resistencias sociales a la minería a cielo abierto, y especialmente en zonas de frontera, se traducen crecientemente en la búsqueda de estrategias de incidencia mediante la movilización transnacional. Ejemplo de ello es la realización de tribunales de opinión, en donde comunidades afectadas por la minería pueden denunciar simbólicamente los estragos de la minería en el ambiente y su impacto sobre los derechos de las poblaciones. Se realizó el primer “Tribunal Ético de Minería de Frontera” organizado por el Observatorio de Conflictos Minero de América Latina en Chile en el 2010. También el “Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos sobre Empresas Transnacionales” sesionó en Austria 2006, Perú/Colombia 2008 y España 2010 para denunciar la complicidad de empresas transnacionales en casos de violación de derechos humanos en Latinoamérica. Muchos de los casos denunciados están relacionados con la minería, además de la explotación de hidrocarburos, agronegocios, etc. Asimismo, se han creado redes de acción global para el intercambio de información y coordinación de campañas conjuntas. Estas son algunas de las formas que adquiere el activismo transnacional en respuesta a la minería y demás instancias de violaciones de derechos humanos en los que estados y empresas se ven acusados. En este sentido, la minería de frontera actúa como catalizador tanto de nuevos relacionamientos entre empresas y gobiernos, así como también de nuevas formas de resistencias sociales que intervienen en la redefinición del debate regional sobre los vínculos entre desarrollo sustentable y derechos humanos.

Además de la minería de frontera, las dinámicas de la integración regional en Sudamérica están regidas también por una serie de proyectos de infraestructura para la generación y transporte de energía hidroeléctrica. La abundancia de agua en la cuenca del Amazonas hace de esta zona el epicentro de una serie de redes interconectadas de represas y líneas de transmisión que se proyecta vincularán lugares de producción y consumo. La creciente demanda de energía esta dada por el crecimiento económico en las economías de los países sudamericanos, y especialmente del sector industrial brasileño y minero (esta actividad es gran demandante de agua para sus procesos de extracción del mineral). Estos cambios están dando lugar a nuevos patrones de la cooperación regional internacional en el que las empresas brasileñas juegan un papel clave como las concesionarias principales de los proyectos de infraestructura de energía hidroeléctrica.

La Iniciativa para la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana (IIRSA), establece la financiación para estos proyectos. IIRSA es un mecanismo institucional creado en 2000 para la coordinación de las organizaciones intergubernamentales acciones con el objetivo de “promover el proceso de integración política, social y económica de América del Sur, incluyendo la modernización de la infraestructura regional y acciones específicas para estimular la integración y el desarrollo de las regiones aisladas de los subsistemas. IIRSA cuenta una cartera 524 proyectos de infraestructura en las áreas de transporte, energía y las comunicaciones, que se agrupan en 47 grupos de proyectos que representan una inversión estimada de dólares EE.UU. 96,119.2 millones de dólares. El Banco Nacional de Desarrollo de Brasil (BNDES) es también un actor regional clave en la movilización de recursos para los proyectos patrocinados por la IIRSA, tanto en territorio brasileño como también en países vecinos.

El Complejo Hidroeléctrico rio Madeira es uno de los proyectos más emblemáticos y la principal iniciativa hidroeléctrica del IIRSA. Una vez terminado, contará con cuatro represas interconectadas y será el de mayor tamaño de la cuenca del Amazonas. El BNDES provee parte del financiamiento para su construcción. Dos de las represas estarán emplazadas en Brasil mientras que una de ellas estará en territorio boliviano y la última en un río que demarca la frontera internacional entre Bolivia y Brasil.

Además, Brasil y Perú procuran la construcción de un mega-complejo hidroeléctrico en la Amazonía peruana financiado por Brasil. El objetivo de esta iniciativa es para generar electricidad en Perú para ser transportada sobre a Brasil para satisfacer su creciente demanda de energía. Para ello, ambos gobiernos negociaron un Acuerdo Energético que establece que Perú se compromete a exportar el 70% de la energía que produzcan sus centrales hidroeléctricas a Brasil durante un plazo de 50 años. Su construcción tendrá un costo de 4.000 millones de dólares e incluye también una línea de 357 kilómetros para tener la electricidad a la frontera brasileña. Una vez terminada la construcción del complejo, este será el mayor proyecto de energía hidroeléctrica en Perú y el quinto más grande en América Latina. Este proyecto y acuerdo energético ha sido objeto de grande críticas en Perú. El acuerdo fue firmado por los gobiernos de Alan García y de Ignácio Lula da Silva en 2010, pero actualmente está pendiente la ratificación del congreso peruano.

El acuerdo y proyecto ha sido objeto de serios cuestionamientos por los impactos ambientales y sociales de estas obras. En octubre de 2011 la principal concesionaria de este proyecto, la brasileña Odebrecht, decidió retirarse de la construcción de dos des las represas proyectadas como consecuencia de la oposición que este mega-proyecto genera en las poblaciones locales, sobre todo de pueblos originarios. El interés del gobierno brasileño por asegurar un acuerdo que le permita proveerse de energía a costos rentables se mantiene. Seguramente veremos nuevos intentos por reflotar el debate sobre este acuerdo, tal vez tomando en consideración las más recientes resistencias sociales que se han manifestado en repudio al mismo. Evidencia de ello es el proceso de revisión que emprenden los ocho países amazónicos de los mecanismos nacionales de consulta a grupos étnicos en el marco del Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica.

En la medida que avanzan las iniciativas de integración sudamericana se pone en evidencia la ausencia de consensos sobre ciertas áreas sensibles como es el caso de los recursos naturales. Muchos cuestionamientos comienzan a aflorar en el debate regional, como las tensiones entre visiones productivistas del desarrollo y de ecología política en las que se propician formas de desarrollo sustentable, vinculadas a los derechos humanos, la armonía ambiental y formas de producción y consumo más inclusivas. Asimismo, se manifiesta la necesidad de nuevos mecanismos de toma de decisión en materia de recursos naturales, no sólo a nivel nacional sino especialmente en lo relacionado a proyectos regionales que involucran acuerdos entre estados e instrumentos de financiamiento regionales. Es fundamental abordar en profundidad las nuevas asimetrías que genera este tipo de integración, no solo entre economías de mayor y menor tamaño, perfiles productivos especializados como industriales y proveerdores de materias primas, sino también en la necesidad de formular marcos regionales regulatorios y de políticas específicamente sobre recursos naturales (coordinación fiscales, normas de protección ambiental, derecho a de consulta a las poblaciones, eficiencia energética, entre otras).

En un contexto de creación de una comunidad política sudamericana, los conflictos y desafíos del desarrollo sustentable se vuelven invariablemente preocupaciones de todo el bloque regional. Mientras antes podamos avanzar sobre nuevos consensos en materia de recursos naturales, mejor estaremos preparados para avanzar en la profundización de nuevas bases de soberanía.

Nota: Las ideas que aquí se exponen están desarrolladas en un artículo recientemente publicado como: Saguier, Marcelo (2012) ‘Socio-environmental regionalism in South America: tensions in the new development models’, The Rise of Post-Hegemonic Regionalism: The Case of Latin America, Pia Riggirozzi and Diana Tussie, eds., Series United Nations University Series on Regionalism, Springer.

– Dr. Marcelo Saguier es profesor de estudios internacionales e investigador CONICET/FLACSO

Fuente: http://alainet.org/active/56815

by Kintto Lucas

ALAI AMLAT-en, sildenafil 17/07/2013.- In the past few years, case South America has taken some decisive steps toward regional integration. Aware of the challenges of globalization, which have surfaced in international political and economic crises, as well as in the proliferation of transnational illicit activities that are beyond the capacities of individual states to control, some countries have begun to understand that the advantages of greater cooperation and commercial interchange are not the final goal. Rather it is necessary to coordinate responses not only in economic and fiscal policy, but also in social policy, the control of natural resources, environmental issues, defence and other areas, in order to face the threats that impinge on them. Above all, in the world as it is now developing, it is impossible to walk alone. It is essential to walk together.

To reinforce integration we need to increase levels of economic and commercial interdependence in the region. It is a complex but not impossible course. We need to develop a collective vision and cease to contemplate our own navels. The bigger economies must show greater solidarity with the smaller ones, but it is fundamental that the latter look to their own development, stop being parasites and stop hiding behind the farce of re-selling products brought in from other places without any local value-added, but simply adding labels that proclaim the product to be of national industry.

Little by little South America is moving away from a theory of regional integration that supposes a divorce between economics and politics, and which ended up imposing on many countries the fallacy of a “self-regulating market” as a force for development. Nevertheless, it is worrying to see that after the disastrous experiences with the application of market shock theories — in the words of Naomi Klein – these political measures are still being pushed by some OECD countries, multinational financial organizations, rightwing politicians and some businessmen, as a panacea for the economic protection of our countries.

From the North, we are plied with free trade treaties and liberalization and deregulation of financial structures, along with privatization and flexible labour markets as basic mechanisms for international economic integration. In South America there are people who hear these siren songs and defend the urgent need to create a free trade area along the lines of the FTAA/ALCA. With this they propose to cure the failures of the neoliberal model.

The regional integration of South America must retrieve the role of the State over the market, of society over the State and the market. The integrated South American states should take control of an integrated South American market. And Latin American society should play a fundamental role in participating to control States and integrated markets. This integration should open the way for a development model that allows for the advancement of each country as well as common advancement. The efficacy and the ability for channeling regional synergies depend on the ability to understand that this is a collective project, not an individual one, and to understand that this is an institutional fabric that is created through the process of integration.

To expand and strengthen South American integration, Unasur must be strengthened and extended. It is fundamental to move Mercosur towards a South American Mercosur(1). This depends on the capacity of our States to reconfigure their productive structures.

This will be possible if governments can transcend the limits of mere economic rationality and commit themselves to work towards a Common and Inclusive Economic Policy, which can take advantage of the region’s assets in food and hydraulic resources, raw materials and energy resources, generating a productive integration of a complementary character between countries.

In the new world order, the importance of South America for the international economy is undeniable. It is one of the most dynamic economic poles. At the present time, the GDP of the countries of South America represents 73 per cent of that of Latin America and the Caribbean, which in turn represents 8 per cent of world trade. In spite of its economic weight, the productive and export matrix of our countries continues to be centred on the primary sector and on intensive manufactures in primary resources and natural resources. This phenomenon responds to the high prices of commodities in the international market, but also to the concentration of investment, both national and foreign, in the exploitation of primary resources. In consequence, South American countries face the threat of deindustrialization and of economies centred on the primary sector. These processes lead to the emergence of productive enclaves whose wealth creation does not reach the whole economy, given the few productive networks they generate, as well as capital flight in the form of the repatriation of profits and benefits and the unlimited increase in imports. These enclaves in many cases are part of parasitical foreign investment that does not pay taxes and brings very little to our countries.

The way that Latin American countries have conceived their economic development has given rise to productive structures that are engineered to satisfy extra-regional needs. Because of this, the economic dynamics of the countries of the region contribute little or nothing to the collective economic dynamics of the region. Due to this individualist way of thinking of economic growth and the application of commercial policies based on indiscriminate opening to foreign economies, the greater part of South American economies have undergone processes of productive dismantling or the loss of economic dynamism in industrial sectors. At the same time large segments of our populations have experienced a fall in unemployment but growth in precarious employment. Here, if there is a diminishing amount of poverty, inequality is maintained and is at times even more evident.

It is necessary for South American economic integration to move towards the articulation of national economies, and for productive structures to look to satisfying the needs of the people of the region, in a way that allows us to develop our manufacturing sectors and services. In this sense it is important to establish legal and technical conditions to promote regional productive investment. Finally, it is necessary to set up productive conditions that make it possible for each and every one of the economies of the region to reach high levels of competitiveness in order, at a later moment, to be able to compete in the international markets of manufacturing and service sectors of medium and high added value.

In the difficult path towards a South American Mercosur, Mercosur should become the bridgehead to establish a South American commercial bloc, animated by principles of solidarity, complementarity and the consideration of the asymmetries in the levels of social and economic development of different members, that prioritizes the role of the State, and has as its goal the well-being of the population rather than the profits of big capital, and which can serve as an example of a different regionalist model, in the face of traditional schemes that are based on market fundamentalism.
(Translation: Jordan Bishop, for ALAI)

– Kintto Lucas is the Roaming Ambassador of Uruguay for Unasur, Celac, and Alba. Former vice foreign minister of Ecuador.

(1) Unasur: Union of South American Nations. Mercosur: Southern Common Market.

 

Source: http://www.alainet.org/active/65768

Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer

Whether a euro area banking union would have saved Cyprus from its recent TROIKA (of European Commission, pharm European Central Bank and IMF) tragic treatment is a very interesting question. If it would, find then clearly a move towards a banking union, help as part of the construction of a political union should be a major component of the reconstruction of the euro area. As we argued in our March 2013 blog, the European Union (EU) summit meeting, 28th/29th June 2012, took a number of decisions in terms of a possible euro area banking union. The most relevant decision was the creation of banking supervision by the European Central Bank (ECB), banking licence for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and financial assistance by the ESM to governments, members of the euro area, when in financial difficulty. The banking supervision, however, will not come into full operation before 2014. ESM member states would then be able to apply for an ESM bailout when they are in financial difficulty or their financial sector is a threat to stability and in need of recapitalization. This is exactly the problem with the recent Cyprus problem, as we now elaborate.

Essentially the major problem in Cyprus has been the size and insolvency of its banking sector. It is far too big in relation to the total economy (ten times its annual GDP is often quoted by the TROIKA; being big relative to economy means its assets and liabilities relative to GDP are large); it is also the case that as an off-shore financial and business centre, the Cypriot banking attracted a significant amount of foreign deposits. The first feature poses the danger of a ‘systemic risk’ for the entire economy when one or more banks fail. The second feature exposes Cyprus to accusations, such as those from politicians in Germany and elsewhere that Cyprus has become a ‘money-laundering’ centre within the European Union. By the summer of 2012 it became clear that the two biggest domestic banks in Cyprus were in trouble because of huge losses from the exposure of their branches in Greece, in view of the depressed macroeconomic conditions there, promoted by TROIKA; also in view of the ‘haircut’ of the Greek sovereign debt, of which Cypriot banks had acquired a great deal by 2010. This mixture of wrong decision-making by Cypriot bankers and bad luck created the need for bank re-capitalisations. As a result, Cyprus applied for financial help from its partners in the euro area in the summer of 2012.

The request by Cyprus for a bail-out has certain unique features. The tiny economy of Cyprus requested 17.5 billion euros which, by contrast to the previous Southern European bail-outs, was a comparatively trivial sum in absolute terms. It was, nonetheless, quite large, nearly 100%, when expressed as a percentage of Cyprus GDP. The initial negotiations between the TROIKA and the outgoing government of Cyprus were accompanied by political noises from Germany implying that the German electorate was fed up with having to hand over money to the Southern European periphery yet again. The reason as to why the heavily indebted southern periphery of Europe was morally ‘undeserving’ of financial help was simply undesirable money-laundering. The argument produced is that hard working and prudent German tax payers should not be expected to rescue an overblown banking sector in Cyprus, which became a ‘tax haven’ for wealthy non-Europeans. These are especially Russians, whose deposits in Cyprus are thought to be of the order of 25bn euros, an amount that is almost one-third of the total deposits in the Cyprus banks. The depositors in the Cyprus banking system should be partly expected to rescue their economy, a proposal that was apparently initiated and promoted by the IMF part of TROIKA. The European Commission was reluctant on this score, fearing a bank run in Cyprus and potentially elsewhere in the euro area. Such a plan, it is argued by TROIKA, helps to reduce the unsustainable large banking and financial sectors of Cyprus. It is also the case that to the extent the ‘bail-in’ of the banks in Cyprus is successful it will introduce some market discipline in banking. By sending the message to all depositors in all banks that if a bank needs re-capitalisation they may be asked to bear some of the cost, the depositors will be forced to take more care where they ‘park’ their savings. Unfortunately the world is a much more complicated place to rely for such arguments to be uncontroversial. This is particularly so in the world of money and finance. In any case, and as the editorial of the Financial Times (18 March 2013) rightly commented “instead of throwing Cyprus a life-buoy, leaders put a millstone around its neck”.

 

When confidence in the banking system weakens then the safety of bank deposits is substantially in peril. This is exactly what happened in Cyprus. A long-term solution would be a move towards a banking union and a single euro area bank deposit guarantee scheme, along with a fully fledged ‘lender-of-last-resort’ function including ability to intervene in the sovereign debt market as well as the secondary markets. Germany has resisted this solution, arguing that it would only contemplate such action only under a full-blown fiscal union. Such a suggestion is pertinent not merely in terms of the introduction of the proposed solution but also for the long-term survival of the euro area. This is desperately and immediately needed, though. We may conclude that both a European Banking Supervision and a European Banking Resolution Authorities are needed but for them to be successful they would have to come under a political integration arrangement, which would provide the necessary fiscal capacity desperately and urgently required at the euro-area level. The Cyprus crisis has vividly demonstrated the need for such a move. The euro-group policymakers should concentrate their efforts on correcting the various serious ‘design faults’ of the monetary union in Europe, especially the absence of a banking union. They must avoid imposing more austerity and misery and creating conditions for bank runs. Clearly such solutions amount to a nail in the coffin of a banking union and a setback to any serious effort to reform the single currency in Europe.

– See more at: http://triplecrisis.com/would-a-euro-area-banking-union-have-saved-cyprus/

 

Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer

Whether a euro area banking union would have saved Cyprus from its recent TROIKA (of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) tragic treatment is a very interesting question. If it would, check then clearly a move towards a banking union, illness as part of the construction of a political union should be a major component of the reconstruction of the euro area. As we argued in our March 2013 blog, the European Union (EU) summit meeting, 28th/29th June 2012, took a number of decisions in terms of a possible euro area banking union. The most relevant decision was the creation of banking supervision by the European Central Bank (ECB), banking licence for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and financial assistance by the ESM to governments, members of the euro area, when in financial difficulty. The banking supervision, however, will not come into full operation before 2014. ESM member states would then be able to apply for an ESM bailout when they are in financial difficulty or their financial sector is a threat to stability and in need of recapitalization. This is exactly the problem with the recent Cyprus problem, as we now elaborate.

Essentially the major problem in Cyprus has been the size and insolvency of its banking sector. It is far too big in relation to the total economy (ten times its annual GDP is often quoted by the TROIKA; being big relative to economy means its assets and liabilities relative to GDP are large); it is also the case that as an off-shore financial and business centre, the Cypriot banking attracted a significant amount of foreign deposits. The first feature poses the danger of a ‘systemic risk’ for the entire economy when one or more banks fail. The second feature exposes Cyprus to accusations, such as those from politicians in Germany and elsewhere that Cyprus has become a ‘money-laundering’ centre within the European Union. By the summer of 2012 it became clear that the two biggest domestic banks in Cyprus were in trouble because of huge losses from the exposure of their branches in Greece, in view of the depressed macroeconomic conditions there, promoted by TROIKA; also in view of the ‘haircut’ of the Greek sovereign debt, of which Cypriot banks had acquired a great deal by 2010. This mixture of wrong decision-making by Cypriot bankers and bad luck created the need for bank re-capitalisations. As a result, Cyprus applied for financial help from its partners in the euro area in the summer of 2012.

The request by Cyprus for a bail-out has certain unique features. The tiny economy of Cyprus requested 17.5 billion euros which, by contrast to the previous Southern European bail-outs, was a comparatively trivial sum in absolute terms. It was, nonetheless, quite large, nearly 100%, when expressed as a percentage of Cyprus GDP. The initial negotiations between the TROIKA and the outgoing government of Cyprus were accompanied by political noises from Germany implying that the German electorate was fed up with having to hand over money to the Southern European periphery yet again. The reason as to why the heavily indebted southern periphery of Europe was morally ‘undeserving’ of financial help was simply undesirable money-laundering. The argument produced is that hard working and prudent German tax payers should not be expected to rescue an overblown banking sector in Cyprus, which became a ‘tax haven’ for wealthy non-Europeans. These are especially Russians, whose deposits in Cyprus are thought to be of the order of 25bn euros, an amount that is almost one-third of the total deposits in the Cyprus banks. The depositors in the Cyprus banking system should be partly expected to rescue their economy, a proposal that was apparently initiated and promoted by the IMF part of TROIKA. The European Commission was reluctant on this score, fearing a bank run in Cyprus and potentially elsewhere in the euro area. Such a plan, it is argued by TROIKA, helps to reduce the unsustainable large banking and financial sectors of Cyprus. It is also the case that to the extent the ‘bail-in’ of the banks in Cyprus is successful it will introduce some market discipline in banking. By sending the message to all depositors in all banks that if a bank needs re-capitalisation they may be asked to bear some of the cost, the depositors will be forced to take more care where they ‘park’ their savings. Unfortunately the world is a much more complicated place to rely for such arguments to be uncontroversial. This is particularly so in the world of money and finance. In any case, and as the editorial of the Financial Times (18 March 2013) rightly commented “instead of throwing Cyprus a life-buoy, leaders put a millstone around its neck”.

 

When confidence in the banking system weakens then the safety of bank deposits is substantially in peril. This is exactly what happened in Cyprus. A long-term solution would be a move towards a banking union and a single euro area bank deposit guarantee scheme, along with a fully fledged ‘lender-of-last-resort’ function including ability to intervene in the sovereign debt market as well as the secondary markets. Germany has resisted this solution, arguing that it would only contemplate such action only under a full-blown fiscal union. Such a suggestion is pertinent not merely in terms of the introduction of the proposed solution but also for the long-term survival of the euro area. This is desperately and immediately needed, though. We may conclude that both a European Banking Supervision and a European Banking Resolution Authorities are needed but for them to be successful they would have to come under a political integration arrangement, which would provide the necessary fiscal capacity desperately and urgently required at the euro-area level. The Cyprus crisis has vividly demonstrated the need for such a move. The euro-group policymakers should concentrate their efforts on correcting the various serious ‘design faults’ of the monetary union in Europe, especially the absence of a banking union. They must avoid imposing more austerity and misery and creating conditions for bank runs. Clearly such solutions amount to a nail in the coffin of a banking union and a setback to any serious effort to reform the single currency in Europe.

– See more at: http://triplecrisis.com/would-a-euro-area-banking-union-have-saved-cyprus

En su genial novela El año de la muerte de Ricardo Reis, ed José Saramago señala “A esta ciudad le basta saber que la rosa de los vientos existe, salve este no es el lugar donde los rumbos se abren, tampoco es el punto magnífico donde los rumbos convergen, aquí precisamente cambian los rumbos”.

 

Trasladando las palabras de Saramago al sistema mundo, como diría Immanuel Wallerstein, podríamos decir que cambiarán los rumbos el día que construyamos un sistema mundial multipolar que contribuya a crear un mundo democrático, justo y equitativo.

 

En ese necesario cambio de rumbos, la integración es un objetivo estratégico para lograr la independencia de América Latina. En ese sentido, es importante fortalecer los distintos niveles de integración y consolidar un bloque suramericano y latinoamericano.

 

América del Sur vive un momento importante en términos de integración regional, capitalizada más claramente en la Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas). Un bloque que más allá de las diferencias políticas o económicas de los países que lo integran, ha logrado levantarse como espacio de acuerdos y entendimientos desde la diversidad y ha generado un proceso integrador diferente.

Unasur es la propuesta más importante de integración desde toda América del Sur. Las que surgieron antes, además de ser regionales fueron condicionadas por el libre comercio, porque apostaban a eso, no a la integración.

 

El Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur), por ejemplo, fue una propuesta surgida desde el libre comercio desde el neoliberalismo. Si bien luego fue procesando cambios positivos con la irrupción de gobiernos progresistas y es una confluencia fundamental, todavía le falta mucho para consolidarse como Mercosur Suramericano, que sea eje de un modelo de integración productiva de Américas del Sur dentro de Unasur.
La CAN (Comunidad Andina de Naciones), en cambio, surgió como una propuesta integradora distinta, pero finalmente terminó absorbida por la hegemonía neoliberal en los años 90.

 

Unasur surgió de una forma diferente, y se posicionó como una propuesta de integración desde lo político, llevando adelante acciones trascendentes para solucionar conflictos, consolidar una mirada de defensa de la democracia en común, fortalecer políticas de defensa y sociales integradoras, e inclusive posicionándose como un bloque a tener en cuenta a nivel mundial en el desarrollo de un mundo multipolar.

 

Unasur ha demostrado que, dentro de las diferencias, se puede llegar a ciertos acuerdos que parten de un punto central: para competir, para ser escuchados en un mundo que va a ser de bloques, tenemos que participar como un todo más compacto, que en este caso es el bloque de América del Sur.

 

Por ejemplo, el acuerdo del Consejo de Defensa en Unasur, de transparentar gastos militares, de parar la instalación de bases militares estadounidenses, son temas que se han resuelto, con discrepancias pero finalmente llegando a ciertos consensos. También a nivel económico, hubo algunos acuerdos, desde los presidentes, quienes creían que Unasur debía jugar un papel importante para enfrentar la crisis económica internacional en conjunto. Lamentablemente los ministros de Economía han desentonado.

 

Ahora es necesario consolidar Unasur como bloque de poder e interlocución mundial. Y dentro de ese proceso es fundamental consolidar la institucionalidad de Unasur en sus diferentes instancias, y particularmente la Secretaría General.

Néstor Kirchner, cuando fue secretario general, puso las bases políticas de la Secretaría. Ecuador, cuando fue Presidencia Pro Tempore puso las bases materiales y constitutivas, y le dio institucionalidad. Ema Mejía y Alí Rodríguez consolidaron la institucionalidad. Rodríguez, además, aportó una base teórico-práctica a Unasur con su propuesta sobre los recursos naturales como eje integrador. Es necesario consolidar la gestión de Unasur desde la Secretaría, para fortalecer las acciones del bloque a nivel regional y mundial.

 

Por su parte la Celac (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños), surgió con la necesidad de consolidar un espacio amplio que promueva un proceso integrador desde la pluralidad latinoamericana, desde procesos más diversos y complejos, pero sin la tutela de Estados Unidos.

 

Mientras la OEA (Organización de Estados Americanos) surgió como la opción de un determinado momento histórico en que los países vivían sometidos al “liderazgo” de Estados Unidos, que en realidad era una imposición desde ese país, Celac y Unasur surgieron desde los propios países latinoamericanos y suramericanos. La OEA fue un proceso de imposición, Unasur y Celac son, con todas sus dificultades, procesos de integración.

 

El Alba (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América), que surgió como una propuesta frente a otro intento de imposición estadounidense como el Alca (Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas), ha implementado procesos de complementariedad y solidaridad creando propuestas de integración productiva interesantes. Es necesario establecer un puente entre el Mercosur y el Alba, buscando instancias de cooperación y complementación. Uruguay podría ser un país puente entre el Mercosur y el Alba promoviendo la cooperación y complementación. Uruguay debe fortalecer el Mercosur y fortalecerse en el Mercosur, y paralelamente consolidar su presencia en el Alba y actuar como puente Alba-Mercosur.

 

Un gran reto en Unasur y en todos los niveles de integración, es involucrar a las organizaciones sociales y a los movimientos sociales en una confluencia desde abajo, desde los pueblos. Obviamente no todas las organizaciones sociales representan al pueblo en general pero sí son instancias importantes que dan base social a los procesos integradores. Si no se produce una integración desde los pueblos, si no hay una integración cultural y de procesos culturales conjuntos de los países, es muy difícil consolidar un proceso integrador de largo plazo.

 

El mayor enemigo de la integración es el modelo de desarrollo. En este momento los procesos de integración están en medio de dos modelos de desarrollo que se encuentran en disputa. Un modelo de desarrollo que es más soberano, vinculado a la producción nacional, con la idea de cambiar la matriz productiva y dejar de ser solo países primarios exportadores, con una visión desde el sur, desde nuestros países. El otro modelo, por ahora hegemónico, apuesta al libre comercio mal entendido, donde quienes dirigen el mercado terminan siendo las grandes corporaciones, la política comercial se basa en los tratados de libre comercio con las grandes potencias, tratados neocoloniales que van contra la integración y la política económica favorecen la especulación financiera, las importaciones y el consumismo. Ese modelo de desarrollo a veces disfrazado de progresista es el mayor enemigo de la integración. Si no es derrotado a nivel regional y dentro de cada uno de nuestros países no habrá integración y seremos cada día más dependientes. Ahí seguramente recordemos aquella frase del final de Ensayo sobre la ceguera de Saramago cuando dice “Creo que no nos quedamos ciegos, creo que estamos ciegos, Ciegos que ven, Ciegos que, viendo, no ven”.

 

Lee el articulo completo aqui.

Authors: Edward Moxon-Browne, check University of Limerick, treat and Philomena Murray, pharmacy University of Melbourne

Is the EU a template for regional integration in Southeast Asia? Caution is required in seeking to propose a model.

Comparisons can be made between the decision-making structures in ASEAN and the EU, but, given the unique circumstances of each regional project, analogies between the two may be counter-productive. In particular, ASEAN has attempted to model its Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) on the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). But can the consensual modus operandi in COREPER be replicated by ASEAN simply by institutional mimesis?

A basic, and familiar, question that has to be faced is whether the EU is sui generis. Two themes are pertinent here: the perceived ‘inadequacy’ of the state in post-war Europe and the relevance for European integration of factors specific to the European continent. In post-war Europe, demands for welfare internally, and security threats externally, were increasing. So governments were under pressure from public opinion to deliver on these two quintessential functions of the nation-state. European states looked to each other for support, and this led to alliances in the security and economic sectors. In effect, the European state was rescued from its own demise by the mechanisms of European integration.

At the same time, five factors specific to post-war Europe contributed to the impulse toward European integration. First, recent memories of conflict underpinned collective security arrangements. These varied from tight military alliances to more-fluid non-alignment. But all shared a common concern to optimise national security by reaching beyond the borders of the state. Second, Europe’s high population density, numerous national borders and notions of national sovereignty made functional cooperation imperative to overcome the challenge of geographic proximity. Third, liberal democracy became a badge of West European identity, separating it from the communist east. Fourth, notions of the ‘welfare state’ have provided a focal point for cross-border reciprocity as an increasingly mobile workforce sought common entitlements to welfare. Fifth, EU citizenship, a reflection of a value-laden consensus that does not exist in any other regional organisation, provides a transnational framework for the protection of numerous civic rights. Many of these are embedded in EU law and defended by the European Court of Justice.

What, then, of ASEAN? Its membership is extremely diverse in wealth, size and political orientation. And there is much less regional interdependence than in the EU. Modes of decision making are also based on a rejection of supranationalism, in contrast with the EU. This contrast is exemplified when comparing the EU’s COREPER with ASEAN’s CPR.

COREPER is based on a habit of negotiating consensus away from public scrutiny, although the committee is an integral part of the EU’s decision-making machinery. In ASEAN, the CPR could develop along the lines of COREPER in the sense that socialisation between its members in Jakarta could radiate back toward national capitals and act as a dynamic for greater integration. ASEAN’s CPR was modelled on the EU’s COREPER — both prepare meetings for their respective councils. However, the outputs from their meetings are quite different: COREPER deliberations result in binding legislation, unlike those of the CPR. It is possible that there could emerge a pattern of close linkages in the ASEAN case like that which exists between COREPER and the Council of the EU secretariat, and there is evidence that these meetings within ASEAN are proving fruitful. It is also possible that close relations could be developed between the ASEAN CPR and domestic ministries, as in the EU.

Well-established habits of cooperation among EU member states are echoed by the informal channels of ASEAN diplomacy. Both seek to work out common positions behind the scenes and minimise the necessity of cumbersome institutional procedures. Integration in the EU has been propelled by setting deadlines which galvanise elites toward greater commitment. By adopting EU nomenclature for new institutions and processes, ASEAN has set itself ambitious goals for a new dynamism. The risk is that frustration and disillusionment can set in if goals are not achieved. Moreover, public awareness of ASEAN as a regional body is minimal; and although the EU suffers from a ‘democratic deficit’ it is at least felt that the public ‘ought’ to be more involved: the only question is how.

In sum, the supranational assumptions underlying the decision-making processes of the EU, which ASEAN now partly reflects, may conflict with ASEAN’s carefully preserved intergovernmentalism. Yet ASEAN may well develop an enduring institutionalisation of its decision-making mechanisms and procedures. After all, the EU developed its own co-existence of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. The next few years will see the experiment of the CPR be tested and possibly measured against the EU — but we can expect an ASEAN style to be imprinted on this new coordinating body.

Edward Moxon-Browne is a professor at the Centre for European Studies, University of Limerick.

Philomena Murray is an associate professor at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne.

This is an abridged version of an article published here in the Journal of Common Market Studies.

Source: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2013/05/03/the-eu-as-a-template-for-asean/

Rethinking ASEAN Integration

By Jenina Joy Chavez

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is 45 years old, but it has yet to enjoy wide recognition and support from the ASEAN populace. Many explanations have been offered for this, story not least of which is the distance of the regional formation from the people that it is supposed to represent and serve. The long history of authoritarianism and unstable political environment in the region has also been cited. Recent developments, including the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection of Migrant Workers, did a lot to bring ASEAN to the attention of its people. However, more is needed before people in the region can truly identify with ASEAN.

 

Jenina Joy Chavez (Trustee, Action for Economic Reforms and Director, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action) states that ‘three important mechanisms readily come to mind, on how a regional project such as ASEAN can have more resonance with the people.” Having freedom of information (FOI) legislations in the ASEAN Member States; having freedom of information (FOI) legislations in the ASEAN Member States and mechanisms for people’s participation, that shall provide the regular space for citizens and stakeholders to be a part of the ASEAN processes.

Contents:

(2) A New Tradition for ASEAN?
(4) Finding Spaces: the ASEAN Charter and Structure
(6) The Case for Freedom of Information (FOI) in ASEAN
(7) Mechanisms for People’s Participation

Download full briefing

By Mong Palatino

The advantages of a united ASEAN are easy to imagine. A cohesive ASEAN would likely bring tremendous benefits to Southeast Asians in the forms of more jobs, more tourists, stronger defense forces and improved camaraderie among competing neighbors. Besides, who would oppose the idea of unity and greater economic coordination in the region? 

But ASEAN’s basic problem is not merely an absence of unity. Wasn’t unity the main objective of ASEAN when it was established in 1967? The fact that after four decades, the group is still pushing to integrate its ten member countries suggests a pretty significant failure to foster solidarity in the region.  

Without undermining the laudable efforts of the ASEAN Secretariat, many doubt it can realize the One Community vision by its announced target date of 2015. How can it, if it continues to use the same approach that has singularly failed to unite its members to date? 

ASEAN unity will remain an impossible vision as long as its members continue to demand it for the wrong reasons. In truth, each member nation views its association with ASEAN as a means to pursue its national interests. Sacrificing the national agenda to realize the regional good is largely an alien concept to ASEAN members. Member nations are in favor of unity as long as it doesn’t conflict with their respective national objectives.

To be sure, ASEAN has successfully coordinated aid and relief efforts when natural disasters have devastated the region. But the group should be more than the region’s answer to Red Cross.

But such instances are usually when ASEAN unity is invoked, namely, when a member is overwhelmed by a problem it can’t solve or when it is affected by a neighbor’s woes. Today, for example, we hear demands for ASEAN to intervene in Burma’s Rohingya Dilemma, maritime disputes in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea, and human trafficking across the region. ASEAN’s next step will most likely be to decide whether to issue a joint statement to address these issues. 

In the absence of disasters, and in between ministerial conferences, however, ASEAN has failed to engage in the essential task of building regional unity. ASEAN hasn’t even been able to prevent members from accusing each other of being bad neighbors. East Timor’s attempts to join the club have been blocked by Singapore, among others, which view its entry as a threat to their national interests, although the reason given to the public is usually East Timor’s internal conflicts.

Ultimately, ASEAN’s unwillingness to form a more united and powerful regional grouping has been exploited by global powers like the United States, China and Japan, which are aggressively promoting their geopolitical interests in the region. A unified ASEAN could challenge the political and economic resources of these big nations. Instead, each ASEAN member has preferred to negotiate individually. It’s tragic enough that ASEAN is not united. It’s more tragic to hear ASEAN members articulate and advance the interests of non-ASEAN superpowers during ASEAN summits. 

At the minimum, a united ASEAN could prevent colonial powers old and new from dominating the region. But that’s just a start. After asserting its independence, it would be great to see ASEAN aspire to become a global power in its own right. With this vision in mind, perhaps it’s time to unite and promote the Southeast Asian way of life as a viable alternative to the world.

Source: http://thediplomat.com/asean-beat/2013/02/04/rethinking-asean-integration/

 

The People and ASEAN’s Complicated Relationship

By Jenina Joy Chavez

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is 45 years old, remedy but it has yet to enjoy wide recognition and support from the ASEAN populace. Many explanations have been offered for this, not least of which is the distance of the regional formation from the people that it is supposed to represent and serve. The long history of authoritarianism and unstable political environment in the region has also been cited. Recent developments, including the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection of Migrant Workers, did a lot to bring ASEAN to the attention of its people. However, more is needed before people in the region can truly identify with ASEAN.

Jenina Joy Chavez (Trustee, Action for Economic Reforms and Director, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action) states that ‘three important mechanisms readily come to mind, on how a regional project such as ASEAN can have more resonance with the people.” Having freedom of information (FOI) legislations in the ASEAN Member States; having freedom of information (FOI) legislations in the ASEAN Member States and mechanisms for people’s participation, that shall provide the regular space for citizens and stakeholders to be a part of the ASEAN processes.

Contents:

(2) A New Tradition for ASEAN?
(4) Finding Spaces: the ASEAN Charter and Structure
(6) The Case for Freedom of Information (FOI) in ASEAN
(7) Mechanisms for People’s Participation

Download full briefing

By Yuyun Wahyuningru

When you sign up for Facebook, cure discount you will be asked to state your relationship status. Facebook provides the following choices: single, ask healing married, engaged, divorced and it’s complicated. The later is, perhaps, what is merrily–and ridiculously–playing in between the ASEAN and the civil society.

This state is a result of too many complicated forces that were not efficiently addressed, including the deficiency of democratic mechanisms, absence of political will and inability of member states to empower the organizations with real authority to deal inter alia with number of issues and actors.

This failure resulted in the alienation of citizens because their voices are no longer heard during critical political deliberations. Popular and nagging sentiments from the ground were no longer being counted in. Dangerously, this might reduce the relevance of ASEAN among its people.

In 2008, the ASEAN Charter introduced an ASEAN with a new, different face. It is supposed to be more transparent, accountable, predictable, responsive, and most importantly a people-oriented association. The Charter formalized ASEAN’s commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and good governance. Furthermore, it set out the norms of behaviour for member states in relation to citizens toward the creation of an ASEAN Community.

Within the Community’s structure, there are number of mechanisms to ensure that all actions under the Roadmap to Community 2015 can be implemented. What was lacking, though, was a mechanism to hear or welcome the views of the people.

The ASEAN’s pillar for political-security cooperation remains a state-centric in its orientation. It places the member governments of the Association as the central point for the promotion of peace and stability in the region. Although the Roadmap for ASEAN Community mentions the “increase participation of relevant entities” to promote political development in the region, these are confined to limited non-state entities associated formally with ASEAN. This is ironic as political-security pillar has a big task on putting democracy and good governance in practice, where people’s participation is one of the important components for accountability.

This is also the case with the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). This body continues to refuse to meet with wider civil society. The process of drafting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is far from being inclusive. The first AICHR consultation with civil society organizations on June 22, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur could be considered successful, however it was selective and dismissed off everyone who wanted to participate.  While the very focus of AICHR is on human rights promotion, the body ignored and continues to ignore the importance of people participation is its work.

As to whom and for what purpose does AICHR promote human rights is a question that baffles members of the civil society organizations. Does it even promote human rights to start with?

In the economic cooperation pillar, ASEAN has shifted its economic cooperation to be an open economic regionalism, which simply means integrating within ASEAN without hurting its economic relations with the grouping’s dialogue partners. Its behaviour toward people participation, however, remains similar with the rest of the pillars. It is the fact that policy-making in ASEAN’s pillar of economic cooperation is, perhaps, the most difficult to be accessed by civil society. Trade and other economic deals are often done in secret, behind the curtain, away from the public. This also partly explains the reasons why so many free-trade initiatives pursued by ASEAN went unnoticed by the public.

The cooperation on socio-cultural is arguably the most important pillar which will break or make the ASEAN Community. For years ASEAN gave much of its attention to political-security and economic cooperation, and only in the late 1990s that ASEAN began to realize the necessity to look beyond these two areas of cooperation. The participation of civil society is also highlighted in this pillar, but no opening or access for engagement has been created so far.

One may feel betrayed when the Charter invokes “we the peoples” because it does not refer to an organized or disorganized citizens group, but the peoples of the member states. Nevertheless, it would be fair to mention that there is an interesting development for the last couple of years. This can be seen in the process of civil society engagements with the ASEAN Committee on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

During its first meeting in Jakarta in February 2011, ACWC invited civil society organizations to a dialogue. It was done through a so-called “informal dinner with civil society organizations.” Nine out of twenty ACWC Representatives attended the dinner. The rest said that they did not have authority from the Capital to meet with civil society. Despite the fact that ACWC refused to share the decisions and the discussion they made during their first meeting, the dialogue opened some possibilities.

In September 2011, ACWC invited civil society again to an “Informal Session with Civil Society” right after their Second Meeting was completed. Sixteen out of twenty ACWC Representatives discussed number of issues and possible cooperation with civil society in addressing some cross-border issues such as trafficking against women and children.

At the “Consultative Meeting with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children (SRSG-VAC) and CEDAW Committee experts on violence against women” in January 2012 in Manila, ACWC had a special session with civil society.

The session was considered “formal” and the participants representing the member countries were limited. Each Government determined the invited 25 national organizations from ten ASEAN countries, and also 16 regional and international organizations to the meeting. Eighteen Representatives out of twenty attended the Consultation. The session provided an opportunity to exchange views in the area of preventing and addressing all forms of violence against children (VAC) and violence against women (VAW) among civil society, regional mechanism (ACWC) and international systems.

Further, in its fifth meeting in Jakarta in July 2012, ACWC invited civil society to the formal “open session” as a part of implementing its Rules of Procedures (ROP). Being a formal meeting, individual country, again, decided which organizations could attend. Thirty-nine national and regional organizations finally met with 20 ACWC Representatives, for the first time. However, the planned five-hour interface meeting was cut into two-hour. Civil society provided feedback on the Commissions’ draft declaration on VAC and VAW as well as on several issues related to the rights of women and children.

The evolution of civil society engagement with ACWC from ‘informal’ to ‘formal’ and moving forward into the direction of ‘institutionalization’ within two years, leave number of lessons and reflections.

Within the ‘informality’ frame, there was no restriction on which organizations can come to the session. Civil society could also come together to strategize and prioritize issues to be taken before the ACWC. Yet, the discussion with the body was substantive, and agreed recommendations could be taken for further action. Nevertheless, ‘informality’ does not guarantee the practice will be sustained.

With the dialogue shifting into a formal setting, apparently, has consequences. First, the control of participation, including the criteria, number and type of organizations, the duration of the meeting and its modalities—all moved from civil society to the Institution or Government.

Second, civil society has little voice in the agenda setting. The ‘open space’ became ‘invited space’ participation. However, it provides assurance that the practice can be repeated no matter who will be sitting in the ASEAN organs.

The relationship between ASEAN and civil society will continue to be complicated for good and bad reasons in the coming years. The challenge now is to put together the practice of “open space” participation that is guaranteed by the legal framework and institutionalized within ASEAN.

Another issue to be tackled is that ensuring all ASEAN countries are compliant to their pledges to the Charter to put people at the centre of ASEAN development. At the same time, the positive trend and practices should continue.

Inclusive, free, and open participation should be a condition to foster a constructive ASEAN’s relationship with civil society.

Editor’s note: Inset photo was taken at the gathering of CSOs for the 2nd Strengthening ASEAN Human Rights Systems through CS Advocacy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on October  22-23, 2012. Photo courtesy of the author.

 

Source: NewsDesk.asia

 

Carving Spaces for People’s Participation in ASEAN

By Jenina Joy Chavez

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is 45 years old, but it has yet to enjoy wide recognition and support from the ASEAN populace. Many explanations have been offered for this, not least of which is the distance of the regional formation from the people that it is supposed to represent and serve. The long history of authoritarianism and unstable political environment in the region has also been cited. Recent developments, including the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection of Migrant Workers, did a lot to bring ASEAN to the attention of its people. However, more is needed before people in the region can truly identify with ASEAN.

Jenina Joy Chavez (Trustee, Action for Economic Reforms and Director, Southeast Asia Monitor for Action) states that ‘three important mechanisms readily come to mind, on how a regional project such as ASEAN can have more resonance with the people.” Having freedom of information (FOI) legislations in the ASEAN Member States; adopting an ASEAN Information Policy; and mechanisms for people’s participation, that shall provide the regular space for citizens and stakeholders to be a part of the ASEAN processes.

Contents:

(2) A New Tradition for ASEAN?
(4) Finding Spaces: the ASEAN Charter and Structure
(6) The Case for Freedom of Information (FOI) in ASEAN
(7) Mechanisms for People’s Participation

Download full briefing

The people vs. Asean

by Frederic Janssens

The most recent Asean Summit was marked by significant clashes between the Cambodian chair and civil society organisations. Is this a new trend, side effects or just an old habit?

It looked like an attempt to force destiny: while Southeast Asian officials gathered in April at the Peace Palace for the 20th Asean Summit in Phnom Penh, 1,200 civil society leaders from the region convened at the Lucky Star hotel. The two events were situated no further than two kilometres apart, yet the exchanges between NGOs and the Cambodian presidency were characterised by neither ‘peace’ nor ‘luck’.  When Cambodia invited regional governments to select their own civil society representatives to attend a meeting with Asean leaders, hundreds of independent NGOs and grassroots organisations boycotted the dialogue session, setting up their own gathering independent of government bias.
Consequently, two separate Asean Civil Society Conferences (ACSC) were held simultaneously in Phnom Penh: one supported and massively attended by the Cambodian authorities; the other self-sidelined from the official summit and – according to its organisers – forced to cancel workshops on land grabbing and events in Myanmar due to political pressure. An avalanche of mutual recriminations and public name-calling quickly ensued.

“This kind of clash is unfortunate, but it’s nothing new in the history of Asean-civil society relations,” says Consuelo Katrina Lopa, coordinator of the Southeast Asian Committee for Advocacy, a regional NGO coordinating advocacy efforts of Southeast Asian civil society organisations (CSOs). “Since the very first interface dialogue held in 2005 in Malaysia, appointments of ‘friendly’ civil society representatives or exclusion of critical voices occurred at every session, leading to an increased distrust towards the whole interface process.”

According to Lopa, countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia have increasingly imposed their own delegations into civil society meetings, making null and void the very concept of CSO dialogue. “Government-led NGOs were becoming part of the CSO organising committee, making it difficult for independent voices to discuss touchy issues like Myanmar or land evictions,” she says. “In 2010, a workshop on democracy was packed up by the Vietnamese delegation, defending the position of its government. Last year, Myanmar appointed police colonel Sitt Aye as representative of its civil society. It is this increasing government intrusion that pushed independent CSOs to organise their own conference this year.”

The “mirror of differences”

However, Asean is by no means a monolithic bloc, and inter-government tensions on the role CSOs should play in building the Asean Community are present. According to political scientist Thi Thu Huong Dang, author of a study on CSO engagement in the Asean Charter process, three different groups co-exist inside Asean.

“The first consists of the Philippines and Indonesia, which are willing to consult civil society and welcome its input into the Asean decision-making process. The second are Malaysia and Thailand, who have accepted limited interaction. The third group includes mainly the regimes of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and most of the time Singapore, Cambodia and Brunei. These regimes would wish to stop the Asean-civil society engagement.”

A striking example of these tensions was recently given in the drafting process of the Asean Human Rights Declaration, a long-awaited and major political instrument for the region. While the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines decided to hold national consultation with their civil society, other Asean countries did not see the value in initiating such dialogue.

“CSOs’ role is a mirror image of Asean’s differences in democratisation and regime types,” says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Bangkok-based Institute of Security and International Studies, and organiser of the CSO-leaders interface during the 2009 Asean Summit in Thailand. “But their impact on Asean policies is also very much dependent on Asean chairmanship. We saw this with Thailand’s chairmanship in 2009 when CSOs had an engaging interface with Asean leaders. It was more limited in 2010 under Vietnam but expanded to full vibrancy under Indonesia’s chairmanship in 2011. Now under Cambodia in 2012, the CSOs’ role is hemmed in.”

Their own worst enemy

If the lack of democratic space and the absence of transparent consultation mechanisms remain major issues, states are not the only ones to bear responsibility for marginalising CSOs from the policy-making process.

“In many cases, CSOs are their own worst enemy,” says Lim May-Ann, contributor of a 2011 study on civil society engagement in Asean. “There’s still poor or no involvement from national CSOs in Asean or on Asean-related issues. Besides, organisational issues are often the bane of many institutions and CSOs are no exception. Building the capacity and professionalism should be one of the first institutional steps that all CSOs should take.”

A point that Consuelo Katrina Lopa agrees with candidly. “There is a clear lack of capacity of CSOs to deal with some Asean issues,” she says. “For 30 years, CSOs simply ignored the Asean process as the majority of them were focused on the democratisation of their own societies. An important debate emerged then between those advocating for involvement and those defending opposition to Asean. Today, most CSOs agree on the necessity to engage with Asean, but the disparities in civil society development and the lack of resources for research make it hard to react quickly to policy developments.”

Myanmar chair ahead

Despite the problems and challenges encountered so far, CSOs’ role in shaping Asean policies is definitely growing, little by little. Over the years, Southeast Asian CSOs have managed to build thematic platforms to engage with Asean officials, with some successes on social or humanitarian policies for instance.

But with Brunei and Myanmar assuming the next two Asean chairs, it is easy to fear a rolling back of this trend.

“Brunei is an absolute monarchy, and the space for CSOs’ interface with Asean leaders is likely to be limited,” warns Thitinan Pongsudhirak. “The litmus test for CSOs may be in 2014 when Myanmar assumes the chair. CSOs will press hard as there is a pent-up groundswell of frustration over two decades of military repression in that country. By that time, Myanmar’s democracy will either show signs of solidifying democratic transition or signs of fatigue and disillusion. The CSOs must keep their expectations reasonable for 2014 as Myanmar could be the pivotal player and tipping point for democratisation in Asean which would be beneficial to regional CSOs in the long run.”

 

Source: http://www.sea-globe.com/Regional-Affairs/the-people-vs-asean.html

Video Documentary "Global Crises, Regional Solutions"

Can regional integration offer a way out of the current economic, climate, food and energy crises? In this video documentary, activists from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe* argue that regional integration is the only viable response to these crises.

Gonzalo Berrón.

Haga click aqui para ver la entrevista realizada por el Centro de Investigaciones para el desarrollo (CID) con Gonzalo Berrón, remedy investigador del FES, pills y al profesor Carlos Martínez, try investigador en economía de la UN, para hablar sobre integración regional en America Latina.

 

Haga click aqui para ver la entrevista realizada por el Centro de Investigaciones para el desarrollo (CID) con Gonzalo Berrón, try investigador del FES, and y al profesor Carlos Martínez, investigador en economía de la UN, para hablar sobre integración regional en America Latina.

 

Can regional integration offer a way out of the current economic, patient climate, food and energy crises? In this video documentary, activists from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe* argue that regional integration is the only viable response to these crises.

 CHAPTERS
1 – Why are the regions relevant in a context of global crises?
* No country can face the crises on its own
* Regional Integration: Breaking the dependence from global markets
* Alternative Regional integration: towards a different development model
* People-Centred regional integration: much more than economic cooperation
2 – What issues are best dealt with at regional level?
3 –Reclaiming the regions: the role of social actors


 To be able to jump from chapter to chapter and to follow interactive transcript (), watch the video in youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvB7c7X5qUc

 

Video Documentary | 26 minutes | April 2012

Produced by: Transnational Institute, in cooperation with Focus on the Global South and Hemispheric Social Alliance. This video is part of the Initiative People’s Agenda for Alternative Regionalisms (PAAR)

Interviews and Script: Cecilia Olivet

Video editing and animations: Ricardo Santos

 

If you liked the video, please share with others! 

If you would like to order a free copy or copies, contact ceciliaolivet@tni.org


* LIST OF ACTIVISTS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE VIDEO

Brid Brennan (Transnational Institute, The Netherlands), Charles Santiago (Member of Parliament, Malaysia), Demba Moussa Dembele (African Forum on Alternatives, Senegal), Dot Keet (South Africa), Edilberto Saucedo (Central Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Indigenas y Populares, Paraguay), Enrique Daza (Secretario Ejecutivo, Alianza Social Continental, Colombia), Francisca Rodríguez (ANAMURI/CLOC, Chile), Gonzalo Berron (Confederación Sindical de las Americas/Alianza Social Continental, Brasil), Graciela Rodríguez (IGTN/REBRIP, Brazil), Hector de la Cueva (Red Mexicana de Accion Frente al Libre Comercio, México), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper/TNI, UK), Juan Gonzalez (Central de Trabajadores Argentinos CTA, Argentina), Lodwick Chizarura (SEATINI, Zimbabwe), Maria Elena Saludas (ATTAC, Argentina), Marika Frangakis (Nicos Poulantzas Institute and EuroMemo Group, Greece), Meena Menon (Focus on the Global South, India), Nalu Faria (Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Brazil), Narciso Castillo (Central Nacional de Trabajadores, Paraguay), Natalia Carrau (REDES – Amigos de la Tierra, Uruguay), Pablo Bertinat (Cono Sur Sustenable, Argentina), Pezo Mateo-Phiri (Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network SAPSN, Zambia), Ranga Machemedze (SEATINI, Zimbawe), Roberto Colman (Sindicato de Trabajadores de la ANDE/Coordinadora Soberanía Energética, Paraguay), Tetteh Hormeku  (Third World Network/African Trade Network, Ghana), Thomas Wallgren (Philosopher/Social Activist, Finland), Walden Bello (Member of Parliament, Philippines), Yap Swee Seng (FORUM-ASIA, Thailand)

Total Reform Is Needed to Make AICHR Independent, Effective and Relevant to the ASEAN Peoples

Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

 

Phnom Penh, advice 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus

 


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

DOWNLOAD LETTER IN PDF

Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)

DOWNLOAD LETTER IN PDF


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, sovaldi and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

Phnom Penh, 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus


Letter from ACSC/APF 2012 Steering Committee on civil society inputs on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD).

 

Phnom Penh, shop 24 April 2012

H.E. Om Yentieng

Chairperson

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

No. 3, for sale Samdech Hun Sen Street,

Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamcarmon,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fax: + 855 23 216 144/216 141

Cc:

H.E. Chet Chealy

Alternate Representative of Cambodia to AICHR

Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC)

No.3, St. VI.13 Tuol Kork Village, Sangkat Tuol Sangke,

Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 23 882 065, Fax. +855 23 882 065

Email: chetchealy@gmail.com

Ms. Leena Ghosh,

Assistant Director

AIPA, ASEAN Foundation, AICHR and Other ASEAN Associated Entities Division

Community Affairs Development Directorate

Corporate and Community Affairs Department

ASEAN Secretariat

E-mail: leena.ghosh@asean.org

Re:      Submission of ACSC/APF 2012 related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Dear Excellencies,

On behalf of the Civil Society Committee for ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF 2012), we are pleased to submit to you civil society’s aspirations related to ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). More than 1,200 people attended the ACSC/APF 2012 that was organized in Lucky Star Hotel, Phnom Penh on 29-31 March 2012. They came from all ten ASEAN countries and beyond.

We also would like to use this opportunity to convey our interest to participate in the consultation that AICHR will be planning to do in the late June 2012. To ensure that the consultation would be meaningful, we encourage AICHR to make the draft available to the public. We understand that you value the trust and credibility from the people in ASEAN which can only be obtained through a transparent process.

Furthermore, we believe that AHRD is a very important document for the daily life of the people, which requires legitimacy from the population in ASEAN. With the advance of communication technology nowadays, AICHR could create a website to release the draft of AHRD which allows more public participation in making comments and inputs.

Please feel free to contact Steering Committee should you have further question or clarification at the email samath@ngoforum.org.kh and thida_khus@silaka.org. Hard copies will follow this email.

Please, Excellency, accept our highest consideration.

Chair, Steering Committee ACSC/APF 2012

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath                        Mrs. Thida Khus

 


 Aspirations of Civil Society’s during the ACSC/APF 2012 on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

1.    We are deeply disappointed at the secret, exclusionary and opaque drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has failed to consult ASEAN civil society to a meaningful extent on the regional level, and only a few representatives consulted on the national level. A draft produced by the Drafting Group in January was never officially published. CSO submissions were left without response, resulting in CSOs being left in the dark as to whether their input has been taken into account.

 2.    Substantively, the Working Draft, which has not been officially published, discloses worrying tendencies among the drafters which, if they prevail, would provide the ASEAN people with a lower level of human rights protection than in universal and other regional instruments. There is heavy emphasis on concepts such as duties, national and regional particularities and noninterference – all of which may be abused to legitimise human rights violations.

 3.    Problematic terms such as “good citizens” and “public morality” may open the door to abusive and discriminatory interpretations, in particular regarding women, LGBTIQ people, children, IPs and minorities and other often-marginalised groups. Several provisions for specific rights are inadequate, open to abuse, or else are missing key components. Thus freedom of expression and assembly, freedom of LGBTIQ people from discrimination and gender rights are not properly provided for.

 4.    We recommend that the AICHR, ASEAN and/or its Member States:

  • Immediately publicize the most current draft of AHRD so that civil society can participate substantively in the drafting process;
  • Continue and expand meaningful consultations on national level, in particular by those AICHR representatives who have not yet done so;
  • Conduct wide-ranging and inclusive consultations, at both national and regional levels, during which the latest drafts of the AHRD should be discussed. AICHR should seriously consider submissions from CSOs, national human rights institutes and other stakeholders, and provide them with feedback;
  • Translate drafts of the AHRD into national languages and other local languages of the ASEAN countries in order to encourage broader public engagement in the region;
  • Include a) the “Right to Peace”, b)  sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provision AHRD – specifically the inclusion of reference to ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’, and c) sexual reproductive health and rights in AHRD;

 5.    Recommendation in regard to women’s human rights perspectives in AHRD:

  • AHRD should enable women’s access to justice in Southeast Asia;
  • ASEAN governments take all appropriate measures to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices which limit women from enjoying their fundamental freedoms and rights;
  • Women’s human rights perspectives, reflected in the CEDAW and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action must be integrated into AHRD;
  • There is no erosion of rights in the AHRD and no inclusion of ‘morality, moral value

or traditional values’ clauses that serve to undermine rights; and

  • The AHRD drafting process must be subjected to public consultation and must involve women.

 

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Bangkok, and online 27 April, prescription for sale (Asian Tribune.com):The performance of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has been disappointing and wanting, epitomized by the lack of transparency, failure to consult with civil society organizations and no demonstrable progress in protecting and promoting human rights, according to a civil society assessment report on the performance of the AICHR for the period of October 2010 to December 2011.

The report, titled “A Commission Shrouded in Secrecy”, was released jointly on Thursday by the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

The civil society coalition said a total reform is needed if the AICHR is to become more independent from the governments, more effective in responding to human rights violations and more relevant to the needs of the peoples in the region.

The report revealed that AICHR has systematically failed to make public any of the official documents adopted since its inception in 2009. This includes its first annual report, which was submitted to the 44th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 2011.

Other official AICHR documents that have not been made public include the Guidelines on Operations of the AICHR, the Terms of Reference of the Drafting Group of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the Terms of Reference of the Baseline Study on Corporate Social Responsibility and Human Rights in ASEAN, the Rules of Procedure for the AICHR Fund, the first annual report of the AICHR, the AICHR Work Plan 2013-2015, its 2012 Priority Programme and its budget, and the Terms of Reference of the Thematic Study of the Right to Peace.

“We are extremely concerned that AICHR has not even made the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration available for public comments. It is ironic that the peoples in the region do not have the right to access a document that is supposed to protect their human rights,” said Yap Swee Seng, executive director of FORUM-ASIA during the launch of the report.

The report found that the AICHR has continued to refuse meetings with civil society organizations and national human rights institutions in the region despite numerous requests made.

The report further slammed the AICHR for discriminating against civil society organizations in Southeast Asia whom it refused to meet, but on the other hand did not hesitate to meet with a range of international civil society organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Freedom House during its official visits to the United States and Europe.

“While we welcome the meetings between the AICHR with international human rights organizations and note that such engagements should be encouraged, the Commission’s refusal to meet with civil society organizations from its own region when it had no qualms in meeting with international civil society organizations is simply a practice of double standards,” stressed Chalida Tajaroensuk, executive director of People’s Empowerment Foundation of Thailand, a member of the SAPA TFAHR.

SAPA TFAHR first requested for a meeting with the AICHR during its first official meeting in March 2010. The request was rejected on the grounds that the AICHR had yet to establish its rules of procedure and therefore could not meet with civil society. The performance report of AICHR shows that the Commission only granted meeting request from only a single civil society organization – the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism – ostensibly on the basis that they are listed as stakeholders recognized by ASEAN under Annex II of the ASEAN Charter.

The report also raised concern over the AICHR’s failures in concluding any of the studies that it has undertaken, in concretely responding to real human rights situations – either in the region generally or in specific member states – and most worryingly, failed to improve the human rights of even a single individual within the ASEAN regional, two years after its establishment.

The AICHR has identified three thematic issues for further study, namely migration, corporate social responsibility and human rights and the right to peace. So far, the terms of reference for these studies have not been made public. It was also expected to give its advisory opinion to the ASEAN member states on the issue of mandatory HIV test for migrant workers but to date has still failed to do so.

The report made numerous recommendations to the AICHR. Key among them are for the AICHR to be more transparent by publishing relevant documents, including the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, via a dedicated website; and to institutionalize regular consultations at national and regional levels with key stakeholders, especially the civil society organizations, national human rights institutions and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

“The AICHR must strive to improve its transparency and engagement with civil society in the coming years. Otherwise, it risks being an irrelevant body to the peoples in the region,” said Saowalak Thongkuay, Regional Development Office of the Disable Peoples’ International Asia Pacific.

Source: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/04/26/total-reform-needed-make-aichr-independent-effective-and-relevant-asean-peoples