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Published by Yuyun Wahyuningrum
This is one of the HRWG's tudies on Civil Society in ASEAN
This is one of the HRWG's tudies on Civil Society in ASEAN

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Published by: Yuyun Wahyuningrum on Oct 30, 2013
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 E-mail: Hrwg.indonesia@gmail.com
Regionalism and Civil Society in ASEAN Region
Executive Summary
Focusing on the practices of interaction between people representatives in civil societyorganizations and the ASEAN governments, this research attempts to answer two questions,i.e. how has the
been dealt with through the interaction between ASEANGovernments and the civil society organizations throughout the ASEAN Civil SocietyConferences (ACSCs), and what have been the nature and character of the ACSCs in their interaction with the issues of Regionalism in ASEAN Forums.To this end the research collects the followings: (1) The
around eachconference, (2) All the seven
from seven ASEAN Civil Society Conferencesfrom the first one in Kuala Lumpur (2005) to the last one in Jakarta (2011), (3) The
 and specific
discussed in the statements of the conferences, and (4) Other relevantinformation, i.e. media reports, academic publications, etc. Technically the research is usingthe standard content analysis for a qualitative research in nature.Regionalism among the Governments of ASEAN has been triggered by a series of crises
financial troubles in 1997/98, inter-s
tate haze, China’s and India’s rise as regional powers,
that inspired the Hanoi Plan of Action (HAP) in 1998. This Hanoi Plan of  Action covered economic cooperation and integration, science and technologicalcooperation, social and human resource development, regional peace and stability, and
improved ASEAN’s role and stance in the international community.
In 2004 the Hanoi Plan of  Action was improved through the Vientiane Action Program (VAP) that set up specific areasof cooperation under three pillars of the ASEAN Community, namely the ASEAN SecurityCommunity, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.(Earlier in 2003 the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II or Bali Concord II reaffirmed thecommitment of ASEAN members to Regionalism).
Despite experts’ criticisms of the ASEAN dualism phenomenon (willingness to move towards
an integrated ASEAN but reluctance to move away from the principles of non-interference),the Vientiane Action Program led ASEAN members towards a more comprehensive andcomplex Regionalism by accommodating some issues that had been rarely or never discussed before. More importantly, despite the vague definitions, scopes and degrees of participation given to the civil society organizations, the latter gained larger space toparticipate in the process of Regionalism.The
of around each conference nevertheless support the criticisms againstthe truthfulness of ASEAN moves towards Regionalism. Earlier,
 ASEAN People’s Assembly
or APA, which was organized in Batam, Indonesia in 2000, was attended by variouselements of civil society in ASEAN. However, for some following reasons, critical observersconsidered the APA as a disguise for a top-down process initiated by ASEAN.
, the participants were decided merely by the ASEAN-Institute for Strategic andInternational Studies (ASEAN-ISIS), triggering a speculation that ASEAN-ISIS dictated the
 ASEAN People’s Assembly.
there was an alleged gap between ASEAN’s aims in
engaging civi
l society and the civil society organizations’ expectation. ASEAN foresaw civil
society as promoters of ASEAN existence and agenda among fellow civil societyorganizations. The civil society organizations remained hopeful to give inputs to the decision-making process within ASEAN (Collins 2008).
, among 10 ASEAN members, aroundone half (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore) was reluctant to build a
close relation with civil society (Collins 2008). In fact, when ASEAN-ISIS approached the
 ASEAN Foundation for funding the first ASEAN People’s Assembly in 1999 and 2000, both
proposals were turned down, which reflected the resistance of the Senior Officials of ASEANagainst APA. Moreover, Singapore that was scheduled to host the first APA had
a ‘politicalreasons’ to move the venue to Batam
, Indonesia (Caballero-Anthony 2005).The produced
from each ACSC also reveal inconsistencies not only on thereaction of the ASEAN leaders in their Statements in ASEAN Summits but also the illogicalflow of issues from one ACSC to another. The intention to parallel the Statement of ACSCwith the ASEAN Summit was fulfilled only once during the first ACSC in Kuala Lumpur (2005). The Statements of the second (Cebu the Philippines), third (Singapore), fifth(Thailand), and sixth ACSC (Vietnam) were denied access to the ASEAN Summits; the
Statements of the fourth ACSC (Thailand) and seventh (Jakarta) were ‘delivered’ to the
 ASEAN leaders only during the pre-Summit
‘interface’ meetings between people
representatives and the ASEAN leaders. The structure of these Statements was also set ininconsistent manner. The first three Statements of ACSCs were structured differently: list of areas for regional issues and a descriptive paragraph (Kuala Lumpur 2005), one part eachfor trends and challenges and for civil society commitment (Cebu 2006), and two big issues(ASEAN Regionalism and ASEAN Charter) (Singapore 2007). Only after the adoption of the ASEAN Charter in 2007 did the Statements follow the framework
of the ASEAN Charter’s
three pillars: Economic, Political-Security, and Socio-Cultural.The
for the issues discussed
Political-Security, Economic, Socio-Cultural,Environment, and Regionalism
revealed some patterns. Firstly, the low
of Political-Security issues pointed out in the Statements appeared because there was only oneissue consistently discussed through all seven conferences, i.e. Civil Liberties and HumanRights (urgency for ASEAN to have a human rights body). Secondly, a considerably low
level of variety 
of the political-security issues was taking place in seven Statements of  ACSC.The political-security issues were traditionally seen as the working area of state actors; the
civil society organizations’ role in the issues in mo
re to be the watchdog to the governmentactivities. Thirdly, the wide
variety of total number 
of Political-Security issues mentioned inthe ACSCs from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta, except the one in Singapore and Vietnam. Thetwo relatively non-democratic states covered only one set of issues on civil liberties andhuman rights. Fourthly, the
depth of the proposed ideas 
appeared to be relatively profound,i.e. on political prisoners,
lese majeste 
law, draconian laws, conflict situation, and grosshuman rights violation in certain ASEAN member states. Generally, the dynamics of thepillar of Political-Security has been influenced by five factors: four as weakening factors(intensity of issues, character of issue, character of host, and composition of participants)and only one as supporting factor (quality of participants).For the issues of Economy, the total number recommended throughout the seven ACSCswas fewer (61 issues) than that of the Political-Security issues (68 issues). The first trend of Economic issues, the
of issues mentioned, revealed only one set of issuesconsistently discussed, i.e. the aspect of regional mechanisms on trade, investment, andservices. This single set of issues, however, lacked a direct linear connection from one ACSC to another. The issues raised in one conference are not necessarily responsive tothose mentioned in the previous one. The issue on employment, for instance, wasmentioned only on the first ACSC (Kuala Lumpur 2005) and the last ACSC (Jakarta 2011).The second trend, which was the
level of variety 
of issues in Economic issues, was relativelyhigh and thorough. The Economic issues covered 13 groups of issues such as trade andinvestment, role of civil society, corporate social responsibility, extractive industries,
 E-mail: Hrwg.indonesia@gmail.com
agriculture, employment, fisheries, food, housing, poverty, tax, water, and the MillenniumDevelopment Goals
but not intellectual property rights. The third trend or the
variety of the total number 
of the issues showed an interesting pattern in which almost 60 percent of allrecommendation on Economic issues was targeting regulations, policies, or mechanisms.Peculiarly the variety of issues grew from zero issues in Singapore (2005) to 10 issuesdiscussed in Jakarta ACSC (2011). The
depth of the proposed ideas 
or the fourth trend inthe Economic issues was varied. The ideas on regional mechanisms were generally given ingreat details while those on the Economic working area were not specified enough. Overall,the dynamics of the Economic pillar in the ACSCs had been influenced by three supportivefactors (development of regional economic cooperation, formal adoption of Blueprints, andnumber of participants) and three weakening factors (economic development level of host,composition of participants, and quality of participants).For the issues of Socio-Cultural pillar, the number of recommendations in ACSC Statementswas the highest (105 points of recommend), compared to the Political-Security (68 points),the Economic (61 points), the Environment (38 points), the Regionalism (41 points), and theHealth Issues (23 points).The
consistency of issues 
(the first trend) discussed for the Socio-Cultural wasrather low
since only ‘women issues’ was discussed consistently throughout the seven ACSCs.
variety of the issues 
mentioned (the second trend) seemed to be high with 21 different socio-cultural issues covered in the Statements. The
variety of total number of issues 
had beenrelatively high: from two issues in the third ACSC (Singapore) to 14 issues in the seventh ACSC (Jakarta). The
depth of the proposed ideas 
(the third trend) was rather high since theStatements were thoroughly written with extensive recommendations. Compared to the ideal ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint, the Socio-Cultural issues in the ACSCscovered less than 40 percent of all characteristics and elements of the ideal ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community 2015.With the Environment pillar consider 
ed as a ‘standing alone’ pillar, the recommendations of 
the ACSCs only cover two out of four characteristics, i.e. Social Welfare and Protection, andSocial Justice and Rights, but not drug-free ASEAN (under Social Welfare and Protection)and Corporate Social Responsibilities. The dynamics of the Socio-Cultural pillar was affectedby three supporting factors (character of the issues, the global trend, the
involvement on the issues, and the number of conference participants) and one weakeningfactor (composition of participants). This research suggested two things to lessen the impactof the weakening factors: first, the ACSC needed to minimize the presence of internationalparticipants, government-owned NGOs, and academics, and second, the ACSC had to refer to the Socio-Cultural Blueprints to lead the discussions to support the socio-cultural goals setin the Blueprint.The pillar of the Environment, although had been raised since the first ACSC in KualaLumpur, was still considered as a new working field in ASEAN. The recommendations givenon the Environmental issues were 43 paragraphs commenting on three sub-groups of issues, which were the working mechanisms, energy, and climate change. From all of theissues, one issue that was discussed the most throughout the seven ACSCs had been theproposal to institutionalize an ASEAN Environmental Community independently from theother three Communities.The issues of Regionalism were discussed by the civil society organizations in terms on howand towards which way Regionalism should move ahead. The people representatives had avery strong idea on what kind of regional community they would like to have in ASEAN; theyput forward the unique diverse characters of the people in the region and proposed
“Alternative Regionalism”. People representatives proposed an ASEAN Regionalism that

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