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FOCUS March 1996 Volume 3

Human Rights and APEC: Another Face of Developing Asia

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, had its Leaders' meeting in November 1995 in Osaka. Prior to that meeting, an NGO conference was organized attended for the first time by more than 100 representatives of NGOs, trade unions and people's organizations from Asia, the Pacific and America.

According to the many governments, APEC has nothing to do with human rights. The NGOs, however, have a different view. The statement adopted on November 14, 1995 by the participants after two days of discussion recognizes that "violations of political freedom, rights of association, labour rights and freedom of speech accompany economic liberalisation in many parts of region". It then requests the governments participating in APEC to, among other things, "ratify and effectively implement all major labour and human rights instruments, including the basic ILO conventions, and guarantee the freedom of movement for all people within the region, especially refugees and indigenous peoples".

This big NGO conference is the first of its kind which took place during the APEC meetings. NGOs and other organizations which participated in the conference agreed to continue to influence the APEC process. This year, another counter-APEC forum will be organized by NGOs (regional and national) and people's organizations in the Philippines for the next Leaders' meeting. For more information, please contact Manila People's Forum on APEC'96 at Room 319, PSSC Building, Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, Qeuzon City (c/o Philippine Peasant Institute), phone: 632-929-6211 or 922-9621(local 314/339), fax: 632-924-3767.

APEC NGO Forum Update

An international organizing body has been formed to prepare for the next APEC NGO Forum that will be held parallel to the APEC Leader's Summit in the Philippines late this year. The body named International Convenors Committee (ICC) is still an ad hoc committee. A more formal body will be constituted in a meeting on April 24, 1996 in Manila. The present ad hoc body has the following provisional members: Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (ARENA), Focus on Global South (FOCUS), and Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC). This body will a) facilitate the participation of international delegates to the forum; b) coordinate the preparation of substantive agenda of the forum; c) coordinate the preparation of country critiques of APEC; and d) propose an alternative vision for regional cooperation.

The ad hoc ICC has made the initial program for the next APEC NGO Forum. Major areas of concern to be discussed are: Food Security; Agriculture and Trade; Labor and Migrant Rights (Human Rights); Environment and Land Rights; Small and Medium Enterprises and Trade Liberalization; and Strenghtening of Regional Cooperation. Field visits will be arranged for those interested in labor rights, food security and environment, impact of investment liberalization on land and labor rights issues. The next NGO Forum is named "1996 Manila People's Forum".

Any organization interested in joining the formal ICC will have to send communications to ANGOC (P.O. Box 3107, QCCPO 1103 Philippines; fax number (632) 921-51-22; e-mail: angoc econet.apc.org) on or before April 8.

A Philippine Hosting Committee has also been formed to take the lead in resource mobilization and prepare the logistical arrangements. It will also formulate the Philippine agenda in relation to APEC. The secretariat of this committee is based in the Philippine Peasant Institute, PSSC Building, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon city, Philippines; fax no. (632) 921-37-67.


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