Background of ACSC/APF
At the close of the East Asia Summit in Brunei in October 2013, President Thein Sein accepted the gavel of ASEAN that symbolizes the presidency of ASEAN that was then officially transferred to Myanmar for 2014. Myanmar government has reaffirmed to the ASEAN and international community that they are ready to take the chairmanship. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commented the chairmanship was a “good opportunity” for Myanmar to build on its socio-economic progress and democratic transition while he expressed the concerns for many challenges the country is facing. ASEAN said it realized the challenges the country is facing and would encourage Myanmar government to continue to undertake more reforms. Amidst all of these, what comes with the chairmanship is for Myanmar to host more than 1,000 ASEAN affairs related meetings in 2014.
Every year before the ASEAN Summit, a conference known as the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) is held independently paralleled to the official ASEAN Summit. Myanmar’s bid for the rotating ASEAN chair was granted so it is responsible as well to host the ASEAN People’s Forum where hundreds of civil society actors from the ASEAN region will gather to represent voices of civil societies.
The organizers of the event work to sustain the REGIONAL character of the event and thus the conference is organized by the region with the host and facilitation of the CSOs from the chair country, with the participation by the peoples of the region where the issues concerning to the people are discussed.
This year ASEAN People’s Forum will be organized under the theme of “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity towards Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratization and address issues around Peace; Justice and Human Rights; Development and Democratization; and ASEAN.” The National Organizing Committee aims to bring about 1,200 civil society actors from Myanmar/Burma and other ASEAN member countries as well as from Timor Leste, while it would also welcome the participation from the UN agencies, embassies and INGOs.
The ACSC/APF is a space for the people of ASEAN that is not only independent but also inclusive representing diversity of the ASEAN peoples. With the first ACSC convened by the Malaysian government as the ASEAN chair in 2005, the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum process since then evolved as the civil society’s led process and each year was organized with the aims towards building community and solidarity amongst SEA peoples, building community and networking in the host country, socializing ASEAN among its peoples, creating space for engagement with ASEAN Heads of State, and contributing towards Institutionalization of engagement mechanisms and processes in ASEAN. There remain a great challenge for participants since the independency and inclusiveness of the ASEAN People’s Forum depends on the level of social and political freedom allowed in the host country and resources available for such civil society gathering.
Organizing Committee Meeting held in the form of Regional Consultation Meeting holds supreme power of decision making. Four Regional Consultation Meetings are held throughout the preparation process. Organizing Committee of the ACSC/APF 2014 is comprised of the following committees and bodies.
- Steering Committee
- Coordination Committee
- Finance Committee
- Program Committee
- Drafting Committee
- Media Committee
- Logistics Committee
- Secretariat Office
First Regional Consultation Meeting of the ACSC/APF 2014 Organizing Committee concluded that composition of the Committees that include regional organizations shall be as follow.
- Steering Committee (5 from Myanmar + one each from 9 other ASEAN nations + one from East Timor + 4 from regional networks)
- Program Committee (Myanmar + one each from 9 other ASEAN nations + one from East Timor + 4 from regional networks)
- Drafting Committee (Myanmar + one each from 9 other ASEAN nations + one from East Timor + 4 from regional networks)
- Media and Information Committee(Myanmar + one each from 9 other ASEAN nations + one from East Timor + 4 from regional networks)