“There is No Way to Peace… Peace is the only way”- Mahatma Gandhi
The Peace-building workshop, organized by Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, Peace Institute of Cambodia, Mekong Peace Journey and Working Group for Peace (Mekong Region and Cambodia), aimed at sharing stories and practices of ASEAN peoples in sustaining peace in the communities, countries and the Southeast Asian Region. The main objectives of the workshop were (1) to share the conflict situation in the ASEAN, (2) to share best practice of people to people peace building, and (3) to provide the people’s recommendation on Peace to the ASEAN governments.
Peace Building in the ASEAN
A presentation by Mr. TuckeyMcCravy, lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and Advisor to Cord Asia, officially started the workshop. He shared that Inter-State conflicts in ASEAN originate from various and complex root causes such as (a) territorial disputes, (b) historical misunderstanding, (c) political feuds, (d) legacy of geopolitical conflict, (e) conflicts brought about by inequitable development and (f) inter-religious/faith conflicts among groups and States. He shifted his focus on the causes of inter-State conflict: (1) weak governance institutions, (2) poorly developed justice systems, (3) insufficient access to resources for survival, (4) underdeveloped democratic institutions, (5) deprivation of human rights, (6) prevalence of violence, (7) marginalization of women, children & ethnic minorities, (8) skewed distribution of power with societies (8) nepotism & corruption and (9) prevalence of small arms. He stressed that while the ASEAN is important in building peace, the civil society has to play a role in the whole process. All stakeholders must engage in long term transformations of attitudes, structure, relationships and behaviors. The focus of the process must be towards human security rather than state security.
In this spirit, meaningful participation of women, encouraging appropriate livelihoods and reduction of natural resource exploitation, counseling for trauma victims, stimulating reconciliation and understanding among ethnic, faith groups and classesare important activities for peace building.
Burmese Participants were provided a space to voice out their pressing demand for peace and democracy in Myanmar. People in Burma had been living peacefully without any armed groups until the independence in the 1940s. After the operation of Military regime in the 1960s, conflicts like civil wars with Shan, Karen, Kachin states inclusively other ethnic minorities groups, mismanagement of Natural resources occurred by the oppression of Burmese military government. Moreover, the bad power-shared division has been long lasted Dilemma within the states that stress the internal conflicts more intensified. In this Point, we highlight the ongoing border wars between Kachin army and Burmese regime needs to stop by both forces at the same time and approach to Peace Building among groups for the stability, security and prosperity of People who are badly affected by the wars.
Mekong Peace Journey
The Mekong Peace Journey came about in a time where there is a huge need for the people to engage in sustainable peace building and conflict transformation in the ASEAN region. Their presentation stresses on Historical Bias, Political distrust, cultural prejudice and absence of mutual understanding as root causes of the conflict is ASEAN. They stressed on the border issues and blamed ULTRA-NATIONALIST propaganda as catalysts of these conflicts. So far, the MPJ has been realizing best practices of people-to-people peace building. Their main targets are Young Adults in the Mekong region. They have been conducting a learning process of peace building which includes training, internship and strengthening strategic teams in the Mekong. Their main objectives are (1) building trust among the young generation and (2) molding the young people to become agents of peace at the national regional levels.
Ms. Linh, an agent of peace from Vietnam, shared her personal experience in peace-building. She stressed on a life-perspective based on love, peace and freedom.
Working Group for Peace
WGP encouraged volunteerism as a means to rouse social movements for peace. They have been organizing cross-border activities among people to peoples. They conducted several peace equities among Thais and Khmers. They also hold Peace gatherings in Phnom Penh. They are also one of the active members of the learning process of the MPJ.
- We strongly demand all member states of ASEAN, with the meaningful participation of the people, to develop a people-centered history of the south East Asia region by all stakeholders.
- We strongly demand each Member State of ASEAN to realize strong efforts on democratization, peace building and conflict transformation with the meaningful participation of the people in the whole process.
- We strongly urge each member state of ASEAN to promote mutual understanding among people providing a space for people-to-people exchange and peace dialogues at all times.
- We strongly urge an ASEAN Institute for Peace Reconciliation announced by all ASEAN Member States to fully function with meaningful participation of ASEAN people.
- We strongly believe that involved member states of ASEAN should be more understanding, inclusive and settle all issues peacefully with regards to all border conflicts
- We strongly demand for the inclusion of the “Right to Peace” in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
- We strongly ask each member state of ASEAN to generously allocate resources for Peace education in all levels and types of education.