|Civil Society Forum on Advancing Substantive Democracy in Asia (on 5-6 November, 2012)|
|Date : 2012-11-21 Hit : 2566|
On 5 - 6 November 2012, in Bali, Indonesia, the Civil Society Forum on Advancing Substantive Democracy in Asia: The Roles of Civil Society and Democratic Governance was held in conjunction with the Bali Democracy Forum V (8-9 November 2012). The Civil Society Forum was co-organized by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Imparsial (The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor), Alliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), and the Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS) and around 30 participants working on human rights and democracy from 15 countries actively took part in it.
The Main objectives of the consultation are as follows:
1) To address issues of democratic governance with Asian governments in light of the current and emerging trends;
2) To share and learn experiences and best practices in advancing democracy and ensuring that democratic transitions are consolidated through the rule of law and human rights;
3) To strengthen solidarity and cooperation among movements in Asia to work collectively and support each other;
4) To discuss the findings of the Democracy Assessment Framework pilot study in Malaysia with the aim of adopting the usage of a suitable and feasible framework for civil society actors to assess democracies that is useful in their work of advocating democracy in the region.
5) To strategize and consider civil society engagements with the Bali Democracy Forum with the aim of influencing government policies on issues of democracy and democratic governance.
During the forum all participants joined in creating the Civil Society Statement in Conjunction with the Bali Democracy Forum V and released it to public on 6 November 2012. Below is the complete statement. (Please download the PDF file above.)
Civil Society Statement in Conjunction with the Bali Democracy Forum V
[6 November 2012]
We, 21 Asian civil society organizations who attended the Civil Society Conference on “Advancing Substantive Democracy in Asia: The Roles of Civil Society and Democratic Governance”, held on 5-6 November 2012, parallel to the Bali Democracy Forum V,
Appreciating the initiative and continued commitment of the Indonesian government in organizing the Bali Democracy Forum,
Acknowledging the importance of the Bali Democracy Forum in promoting the development of democracy in the region,
Welcoming the invitation extended to Asian civil society representatives to the Opening Session of the Bali Democracy Forum for the first time this year,
Reaffirming our commitment to democratization in Asia based on people’s participation, pluralism, rule of law, international human rights laws and standards,
Call on governments at the Bali Democracy Forum V to take into serious consideration with the aim of acting substantively on the following issues of concerns:
Many Asian governments are increasingly using national security laws in the name of peace and security to deny and suppress the fundamental freedoms of its peoples These laws impose overbroad and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms, often on vaguely defined grounds, such as to protect “national security”, to combat “terrorism”. There are also increasing securitization concerns using the pretext of ethno-religious conflict, defending the monarchy and all other authorities which are in direct contradiction with international human rights standards. This appears to reflect the precedence of the interests of governments over the rights of the people.
The rise of state-centred discourse of national security has also resulted in the continued employment of violence by the state with impunity, including torture, enforced disappearances, detention without trial and extra-judicial killings in the region, both within the countries and across borders.
In the context of the increase in violations of fundamental freedoms in the name of national security, an independent and effective judiciary plays a pivotal role in ensuring that fundamental rights of the people are safeguarded. However, serious concerns with regard to the independence and integrity of the judiciary remain in many Asian countries. Appointment of judges and prosecutors are often influenced by politics, nepotism and patronage, which has posed serious threats to the independence of the judiciary, and consequently, the proper functioning of democracies. Judges in many countries have also continuously failed to demonstrate their appreciation and understanding of international human rights law.
Furthermore, other remaining redress mechanisms have also largely failed to safeguard the rights of the people. This includes the general trend of the eroding independence of national human rights institutions in countries where they exist in the region, in many case as a result of deliberate efforts of governments. As a consequence, many national human rights institutions have been ineffective in protecting and promoting the fundamental rights of the people in the context of the increasing state-centred discourse and practice of national security.
In many Asian countries, there is an increasing trend of imposed development without consultation of and, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from affected communities. This includes land grabbing, forced evictions and centralization of resources which impact groups ranging from urban communities to indigenous peoples. Often, a corollary of such policies is the degradation of the environment to the extent that some countries become effectively toxic colonies of others; coupled with, inadequate or no compensation to the affected communities, the absence of relocation policies and even the criminalization of those who exercise their fundamental rights
The current economic model which stresses deregulation of markets, increasing power of multinational corporations, trade liberalisation and privatization of social services has also created a situation of increasing poverty and inequality, while spending on social security and access to essential services are inadequate. Imbalances in national budget allocation have to be corrected to address poverty. In today’s economic landscape, workers’ rights to association and to form trade unions for collective bargaining; and advocating for better conditions and fair wages are also suppressed. Precarious forms of labor, especially in the informal sector, which is dominant in the region has seen reduction of labour costs and wages, resulting in a deterioration of protection and standards for workers in Asia.
Corporate impunity in the forms of cronyism and favoritism in awarding business contracts must also be combated. While we are not against the market economy, modernization of the economy and attracting investment, resource-related extraction activities and economic land concessions for commercial development must not override the concerns and rights of ordinary people.
We make the following recommendations to all governments at the Bali Democracy Forum V:
i. to institutionalize full and meaningful participation of civil society in the Bali Democracy Forum
ii. to respect and protect the exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly, in light of increasing trends of the misuse of the Law and Judiciary to silence and oppress human rights defenders
iii. to establish and strengthen independent and effective human rights protection mechanisms, both national and regional, with the capacity to receive and address complaints, and provide avenues for redress and remedies. National human rights institutions should comply with the Paris Principles;
Peace and Security:
iv. restrictions of human rights in the name of peace and security should not be invoked without legitimate basis under international human rights law and standards. In addition there are certain fundamental rights to human dignity that can be never be derogated from under any circumstances;
v. to ensure that the rule of law is respected at all times. Law enforcement officers should undertake human rights training and education to ensure these outcomes;
vi. to ensure that victims and survivors of human rights violations are guaranteed the right to truth, justice and reparations;
vii. to undertake to formulate and implement policies towards the elimination of the threat of conflict among and between peoples and the renunciation of the use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes to bring peace in the region;
viii. to democratize economic decisions to ensure accountability and transparency in development aid and bi/multi-lateral trade agreements. This would ensure that the rights of affected communities, especially marginalized groups like indigenous peoples, and interests of local businesses and small/medium enterprises are not compromised. Participation must include FPIC to ensure equitable growth and redistribution of wealth;
ix. economic and social justice for work must go beyond rules and regulations for waged labour and include all work outside of the market, balance the inequalities between women and men, care work and industrial work, and protect local communities and migrants' rights.
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