Asia Pacific civil society calls on regional leaders:
Be brave and put equity and justice at the core of post-2015 development agenda
Bangkok, Thailand, August 27, 2013
Ministers and other high level representatives from across the region are meeting in Bangkok, Thailand from 26-28 August, 2013 for the ‘Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015’ to discuss the challenges in steering the world to a new internationally agreed development agenda.
Asia Pacific civil society has come up with a bold vision for ‘development justice’ in a meeting prior to this Ministerial. Development justice is a framework that addresses the growing inequalities of wealth, of power, of resources, and of opportunities that exist between countries, between rich and poor, and between men and women. It is founded on the principles of equality and justice for all, given that vast majority of the peoples of the region suffer from the impacts of climate change, resource grabbing, loss of livelihoods and declining wages even as wealth accumulate among few families and transnational corporations in the advanced economies in the North.
Civil society has engaged Asia Pacific governments in this Ministerial to commit to real transformative change. In many countries in the region, policies are shaped by corporate interests that give priority to foreign capital over domestic capital. Meanwhile, trade regimes pursuing so-called development agendas only end up pushing for more liberalization that further shrinks developing countries’ policy space. Trade agreements have become so secretive that signing on to a secrecy agreement is now one of the preconditions for entering an economic partnership agreement.
In this light, a number of civil society recommendations were supported by many developing countries from the region, particularly those calling for an end to unfair rules in international trade, finance, intellectual property rights and investments that impede efforts at attaining genuine people- and planet-centered sustainable development in the South. Other measures demanded by civil society include greater equity in ownership, access and control over land and other productive resources; more public resources for quality education, health and universal social protection; and decent livelihoods and work with living wages for all, particularly women and youth. CSOs also called for reforming decision-making processes at all levels to ensure greater accountability to the peoples.
However, these proposals have been stubbornly opposed by the US and other developed countries from behind closed doors. These countries are not even part of the region, but as members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), they are able to exercise considerable influence in the intergovernmental process. Their refusal to own up to their historical responsibility is principally to blame for the abysmal outcome of the Ministerial, which backtracks from previous international agreements including the Rio Declaration and the Millennium Declaration.
Civil society reiterates its call to the region’s leaders to ‘seize this rare opportunity’ that the post-2015 development agenda presents. Speaking at the Ministerial, Eni Lestari, a foreign domestic worker in Hong Kong and chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) urged the region’s leaders to ‘be brave and to honour the constituents of our shared world denied of rights’ by committing to development justice.
* 92 Civil society organisations from 21 countries across the region came together on August 23-24, 2013 for the Asia Pacific regional CSO consultation for a just and transformative development agenda. More information about the consultation is available here:
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