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PIA Press Release

IID challenges ASEAN to address conflicts

Manila (31 October) -- The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), an advocacy and solidarity regional network has challenged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come up with mechanisms to address conflicts within states.

"Clearly, there is enough basis in the blueprint for ASEAN to address intra-state conflicts. They are in fact reflective and consistent with international norms and instruments such as the Geneva Convention on International Humanitarian Law; Responsibility to Protect, and even United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1674 pertaining to the role of women in peacebuilding and ensuring protection of civilians in armed conflict respectively," Gus Miclat, IID Executive Director said during the ASEAN Civil Society Conference held in Cha-am, Thailand on October 18-20, 2009.

IID is pushing for a more pro-active ASEAN in the prevention of internal state conflicts in the region's conflict affected areas like Southern Mindanao in the Philippines, Bandah Aceh and Papua in Indonesia.

Miclat cited how ASEAN was absent in conflicts which have bedeviled many countries in the region. He cited the case of Aceh in Indonesia where the ASEAN is currently involved in post-conflict activities, where it has deployed peace monitors yet it was virtually absent during the height of the conflict between Indonesian troops and Aceh separatists. He also cited the case of East Timor when ASEAN did not lift a finger during the brutal 25-year Indonesian occupation.

Miclat said that the political security sector will be active in offering its recommendations in coming up with the political-security mechanisms. The proposed Asian-Pacific Political Security Community (APSC) is aimed at ASEAN members to pursue closer interaction and cooperation to forge shared norms and create common mechanisms in the political and security fields.

He added that although the APSC mentions the promotion of a people oriented ASEAN, it is still perceived as state-centric, and thus, there is a need for an avenue where the government and civil society could work together in dealing with political and security issues.

"Civil society should have a direct and substantive engagement in the national and regional political security community to gather inputs on, assess and assist in the implementation of the blueprint," Miclat said.

During the ACSC, the ASEAN was challenged to take a more pro-active role in responding to all conflict situations, including Mindanao, South Thailand, West Papua, Burma/Myanmar and the South China Sea. It also pointed out the need for the ASEAN to monitor and learn from the post-conflict and peace building challenges in Aceh and Timor Leste. (Initiatives for International Dialogue) [top]

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