Conflicts continue to persist in the region, the resolution of which requires significant intervention from the ASEAN. This is the assertion of peace groups and organizations who took part in the Workshop on Peace and Security – “Determining the Significance of ASEAN Instruments in Conflict Situations in Southeast Asia” on the occasion of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia which officially opened on March 29 and will culminate on March 31.
There are existing mechanisms and platforms in the ASEAN which if operationalized may meaningfully contribute to finding what may be a sustainable solution to the decades-long conflict in Southern Thailand, Burma and the Thai-Cambodia border dispute such as the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation, Bali Concord II, ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Political Security Community blueprint, Protocol to the ASEAN Charter on Dispute Settlement Mechanisms, to name a few.
Thus, we put forward the following recommendations and challenge ASEAN and its offices to take a more pro-active role in resolving the persistent conflicts in the region as this is one way it will be able to give meaning to its vision of a people-centered, caring and sharing community.
a.) When national governments are obstinate, ASEAN must intervene to ensure that member states adhere to international law. On the Thai-Cambodia border dispute, ASEAN must prevail upon or insist on the Thai government to comply with International Court of Justice/ICJ’s directive to withdraw troops from the disputed area.
b.) ASEAN must review and expand the concept and mandate of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (Article 24-25 ASEAN Charter) to:
1. include a “prevention” component that will also deal with internal conflicts; and
2. institutionalize the role of civil society specifically the participation of women in dispute settlement mechanisms.
c.) ASEAN must ensure civil society participation and inputs in the establishment of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR).
d.) The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) must facilitate the mainstreaming of CEDAW and UNSCR 1325 among ASEAN member states through awareness-raising among organs and instrumentalities of governments and within the ASEAN structure.
e.) ACWC must issue a Memorandum to all ASEAN departments, commissions, institutes and councils, the Secretariat and other bodies within the ASEAN structure to include gender-sensitive training among officers and staff members; and a Memorandum to all ASEAN governments through its foreign affairs ministers to remind governments to implement the provisions of the UNSCR 1325 and urge governments to develop national action plans.
f.) ACWC must urgently look into the situation of women in conflict-affected areas specifically the gender-based and sexual violence perpetrated in ethnic communities as in the case of Burma.
g.) ACWC should conduct a study or investigate the extent and magnitude of the problem of gender and sexual violence in armed conflict in the region in aid of policy and program development that will strategically and urgently address the same and that would render justice to women and girl victims.
h.) ACWC should include in its work plan the agenda on women, peace and security. Invite the participation of women and peace civil society organizations in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its work plan on women, peace and security.
i.) The presence and active role of women and peace organizations in the ACWC periodic consultations and dialogue-meetings must be sought and ensured.
Recommendations for CSOs:
a.) CSOs need to contribute to creating positive feelings in order to minimise the impact of nationalism. We need to promote the idea of interdependence among ASEAN people in this era of globalisation. We also need to emphasise cultural sensitivity and encourage respect for differences.
b.) Civil society should hold peace marches in the capital cities, not only in the areas directly affected by conflict. If people know how they will be affected by war then they may not be so quick to espouse nationalist sentiment.
c.) Study and identify appropriate ASEAN mechanisms for strategic, constructive and effective engagement.
d.) Exercise due diligence in its engagements by ensuring evidence-based and realistic policy recommendations
e.) Forge solidarity with the larger civil society movement in order to build a broader constituency that will call for accountability on women, peace and security agenda
f.) Sustain awareness raising on the role of women and capacity-building and empowerment of women for leadership positions.
Contact: Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaytan +63 9177247580 (mobile no.)