A record-breaking 3,000-plus participants took part in the annual ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF). Taking on the theme “Advancing Peoples’ Solidarity toward sustainable peace, development, justice and democratisation”, the meeting brought together civil society organisations (CSO) from all ASEAN Member States and Timor Leste, as well as International Nongovernmental Organisations.
At the opening of the Forum, Daw May May Pyone, Chair of the Steering Committee, underlined that the ACSC/APF is a space for the people of ASEAN to network and build their solidarity, as well as engage with the ASEAN governments on issues impacting peoples’ lives. The Committee, comprised of more than 80 Myanmar CSOs, have conducted several national and regional consultations since June 2013 in preparation for this event.
H.E. U Aung Min, Union Minister of Ministry of President Office, delivered a Congratulatory Message from H.E. President U Thein Sein. In his Message, the President underlined the important role of civil societies in realising ASEAN’s endeavours. He invited the civil societies to share the issues and challenges raised during their discussions at the Conference. U Tin Oo, Patron of the National League for Democracy, representing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, highlighted that Myanmar urgently needed development that is centred on people, to ensure the progress of the youth and to secure the future of the region.
In his Keynote Address, H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs, encouraged civil societies to continue engaging with ASEAN through enhancing their—and the wider public’s—awareness of the ASEAN Community; and to promote understanding, solidarity, and camaraderie among ASEAN people.
The Forum featured four Plenary Sessions and 35 parallel Workshops covering the topics of peace, justice and human rights, development and democratisation. There were also side events such as exhibition, film screenings, and handicraft shows, representing the faces and voices of the peoples and community of ASEAN.
Upon its conclusion, the Forum adopted the “Statement of the ACSC/APF 2014”, containing recommendations aimed for submission to the ASEAN Leaders at the upcoming 24th ASEAN Summit. The event closed with a symbolic handover of the mandate to host the upcoming ACSC/APF 2015 to CSO delegation from Malaysia, the country host of the first ACSC/APF.
Launched in 2005, the ACSC/APF functions as a mechanism for CSOs in the region to engage with the ASEAN governments on various grassroots, cross-cutting issues confronting the peoples.