Klik sini untuk membeli Buku dan VCD Keadilan terbaru !
Faisal Mustaffa's Facebook profile

Bangkitlah Kaum Buruh & Petani
Menentang Ekstremis & Hipokrits!

~ faisal mustaffa online ~


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Limited time to salvage the Asean Charter

Kavi Chongkittavorn

The Asean Charter has failed to take into account the aspirations of all Asean citizens after three months of drafting.

Instead, the drafters, members of the High Level Task Force, have gone ahead to include what they believe represents their values and norms without paying attention to the peoples' desires.

The first clean draft will be ready for vetting by Asean foreign ministers at their annual meeting in Manila next month. Something must be done now to ensure that the current draft will be amended extensively. This may require some kind of miracle.

To be fair, the 10 members of the drafting team must not be burdened with all the blame as they have received guidance from their foreign ministers.

At the retreat in Siem Reap in March, a line in the sand was drawn by the foreign ministers that would affect the writing of the charter. What was amazing about the process was the rejection of the pragmatic recommendations by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the Asean Charter.

For instance, the idea of an Asean Union as the highest community-building goal in Asean was rejected, as were the provisions for suspensions, expulsions and withdrawals. Voting as a decision-making tool was not mentioned, as consultation and consensus are still sacrosanct.

Furthermore, Asean drafters are not comfortable exploring and including new dispute-settlement mechanisms in the charter. There is still a lack of mutual trust among the members.

Finally, Asean hasnot yet fulfilled its 14-year-old pledge to establish a regional human rights mechanism. As host of the upcoming Asean annual meeting, the Philippines is pushing hard to
include an Asean Human Rights Commission in the charter.

Followed the EPG's report last year, much of the regional and international press was excited about the prospects for changes within Asean.

Reports focused on the possibility of imposing sanctions against rogue members and letting go of the consensus requirement as part of the group's decision-making process. All along, Asean citizens, including civil society organisations, were led to believe that the Asean Charter would be outward looking and democratic and their voices would be incorporated.

Bridging the gap between the Asean "elites" and the "grassroots" began in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 before the Asean summit. For the first time, representatives from Asean-based independent, semi-independent and government-sanction ed non-government organisations
deliberated together on what they perceived as their common aspirations.

Then, their report was submitted in a face-to-face session with the Asean leaders. More or less the same process was repeated at the Cebu summit.

Apparently, the charter drafters have not considered any input so far from civil society organisations. The Asean People's Assembly, established in 2001 by the Asean-Isis consortium and the Solidarity of Asian People's Advocacy, founded in 2004, are the two key organisations campaigning for citizens' groups.

Therefore, the remaining two most important sources of input for the charter will be from national leaders and foreign ministers, although the latter group have already expressed their opinions at the Siem Reap retreat.

Opportunities still exist for the Asean foreign ministers to be "bold and creative" when they scrutinise the first draft charter. Leaving the current draft as it is would be a shame because it does not contain provisions that strengthen the organisation or make it more dynamic with members fulfillingcollective responsibilities and duties.

The worst nightmare for the future Asean is still the lack of instruments to enforce compliance among members. Asean has over 200 agreements but most of them are voluntary, not legally-binding. Without clear provisions for sanctions, members would continue to be indifferent.

The past four decades have shown that certain members have a preponderance to ignore Asean
agreements, norms and peer pressure. Burma is a good case in point. Since its admission 10 years ago, the country has broken all the rules and stretched the trust and confidence that Asean members put in each other.

It is true that with the growing complexities of globalisation and transnational issues affecting the region, the current decision-making framework based on consensus does not work well. In other regional organisations such as Mercusor or the African Union, the principle of majority-rule voting is employed to facilitate meetings and policy decisions.

At this juncture, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are going through difficult periods in their democratic transitions and consolidation. Their contributions to the charter should have been more substantive, reflecting openness and political developments at home.

For instance, Thailand, given its current political crisis, has been reluctant to speak out, even though it has stronger views on human security and the enhanced role played by civil society organisations.

It is imperative that at the upcoming foreign ministerial meeting in Manila next month, core countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia be united to amend the draft so that it will make Asean more efficient and responsive to citizens' needs.

If all else fails, Asean citizens must rise to the occasion. After all, without their support and ultimately their voice and input, there is no use in having an Asean Charter that would ruin their aspirations.

http://www.nationmu ltimedia. com/2007/ 06/11/opinion/ opinion_30036503 .php


Post a Comment

<< Home

Get awesome blog templates like this one from BlogSkins.com