As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar accepted the gavel that symbolizes the ASEAN presidency. This was a historic moment since this is the first time Myanmar has taken the Chair since it became a member of ASEAN. As Chair, Myanmar is responsible for hosting many important regional forums and events during 2014.
The ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC), also known as the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF), is held independently by the ASEAN Chair country in advance of, and parallel to, the official ASEAN Summit, which is attended by ASEAN and regional leaders. The first ACSC/APF took place in Malaysia in 2005. Since then it has taken place in the Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), Indonesia (2011), Cambodia (2012), Brunei (2013) and this year in Myanmar (2014). The 10th ACSC/APF took place on 21 – 23 March 2014 at the Myanmar Convention Center in Yangon, Myanmar.
Over 83 civil society actors from different backgrounds contributed their knowledge, experience and effort into planning the 10th ACSC/APF through a series of preparatory meetings, national consultation meetings, and regional consultation meetings. As a result of the combined effort, over 3,000 people from Myanmar, ASEAN region, Timor Leste, and beyond attended the ACSC/APF this year, marking the largest recorded participation in the history of ACSC/APF since its inception in 2005.
This conference is a venue for civil society and individuals to share their concerns on the regional and national issues that impact the peoples’ lives and aims to strengthen their voice. To welcome as many as 3,000 people to participate in discussions ranging from human rights, peace, democracy and development, showed the strength and solidarity of the ASEAN people and its supporters. The successful outcome of the ACSC/APF 2014 was a reflection of the collaborative efforts of the National Organizing Committee, regional friends, volunteers and participants.
A significant aspect of the ACSC/APF 2014 was the inclusiveness of the National Organizing Committee and its unique character in a critical time during Myanmar’s ongoing transition, as well as the large regional participation in this year’s process. The ACSC/APF 2014 successfully exhibited coordination and collaboration among national and regional civil society as well as strengthened the ties and friendship between diverse groups of people. This year’s ACSC/APF was able to present the voices and recommendations of the ASEAN people with a strong sense of solidarity.
ASEAN civil society will continue to work cooperatively and engage constructively with ASEAN governments in the spirit of partnership, ownership and self-determination for the improvement of the quality of life and dignity of the ASEAN people.
Yangon, Myanmar, May 2014
Dr. May May Pyone, Chair of the ACSC/APF 2014 Steering Committee