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FOCUS December 2002 Volume 30

Asian Civil Society Forum 2002

Nobuki Fujimoto

The "Asian Civil Society Forum 2002" (ACSF 2002) was held from 9 to 13 December 2002 in Bangkok. The conference, convened by the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO), had the theme "UN/NGO Partnership for Democratic Governance in Asia." More than 500 people attended ACSF 2002, representing 200 NGOs from 33 countries, and several UN agencies including the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNIFEM.

The discussions (in plenary and workshops) focused on several issues such as the UN system and NGOs, role of civil society in global governance, impact of September 11 on human rights in Asia, gender equality, migration, and national human rights institutions.

The participants adopted a Statement stressing the importance of implementing the commitments made at the recent UN conferences, such as Millennium Development Goals of the UN Millennium Assembly (2000), Declarations and Programmes of Action of World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (2001) and World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).

They also adopted a General Guidelines for Action that calls on the UN, governments and civil society actors in Asia to take action on the issues discussed. It encourages civil society, in particular, to develop genuine partnership with the UN and governments, in addition to building coalitions across sectors. It also advises civil society actors to maintain their independence from governments and private corporations.

Korean NGO representatives participating in the conference proposed the setting up of a ‘Northeast Asian Civil Society Forum.’ A meeting on this idea was tentatively set in November 2003 in Seoul.

(See the next page for the excerpt of the General Guidelines for Action.)

For more information, please visit: Asian Civil Society Forum 2002

Nobuki Fujimoto is a staff member of HURIGHTS OSAKA.