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Telling the ASEAN Story Better

BANGKOK (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Just about everyone talks about the ‘ASEAN Community’, but how can media report better on what this means to South-east Asia’s 500 million people?

Rapid Dev’t Eating Up Food Security

TOKYO, Oct 12 (TerraViva) – Call it a flipside of South-east Asia’s robust economic growth: Its economies are churning out healthy growth rates, but this rapid development is also eating into its food security.

Rights Mechanism: Solutions or Problems?

JAKARTA, Oct 8 (The Jakarta Post) – There were two meetings recently concerning two regional human rights mechanisms, which are important for Indonesia’s foreign policy. The first meeting was the 8th ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) in Brunei Darussalam on Aug. 24-26, 2012. The second was the 2nd Independent and Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Ankara, Turkey on Aug. 27-31, 2012.

‘Flawed’ Human Rights Document Would Hurt ASEAN – Activists

In this Sep.26 open letter, human rights activists argue that “serious flaws” in the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, set to be adopted by ASEAN later in the year, must be addressed. If not, they say, the declaration would “not bode well for the reputation and credibility” of the ASEAN human rights mechanism.

What ‘Public Morality’? Women’s Groups Ask

In this July 2012 statement, the South-east Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN argues that the phrase ‘public morality’ has no place in the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration because it can too easily be used to violate the rights of women and girls.

ASEAN Urged to Set Up Mechanism for Migrants’ Rights

It has been five years since ASEAN adopted a declaration to protect and promote migrant workers’ rights, but it still has not managed to hammer out a legally binding instrument to implement this path-breaking declaration. Critics say ASEAN is much more friendly to business than to its own migrant workers, prompting one to call it “schizophrenic”. Vera Files’ Tess Bacalla reports on ASEAN’s uphill climb to come to terms with the migrants in its midst.

ASEAN Locks Horns on Migrant Workers’ Rights

In the second part of this series, Tess Bacalla looks into ASEAN’s challenge of trying to forge regional policy – and action – on labour migration, a topic that member countries have for long considered a touchy issue and have conflicting interests on.

ASEAN’s 2015 Union May Be Delayed – Surin

PHNOM PENH/MANILA, Sep 12 (Business World Online) – A planned economic union in Southeast Asia is likely to be delayed by a year because some countries are not ready, said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Time For A New ASEAN Way

In this opinion piece published in Asia Times, Khanh Vu Duc shares on whether ASEAN can serve the role of maintaining regional peace and stability without major disruptions to the grouping’s culture and leadership.

ASEAN Dragging Feet on Services FTA – Indian official

SINGAPORE, Sep 10 2012 (The Hindu Business Line) – The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been slower in responding to India’s proposal to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Services, former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said here today.

It Ain’t All Bad

Not all stories of labour migration in Southeast Asia are bleak and foreboding. Many workers are only too happy to have found employment in the region’s more affluent states—with none of the struggles of their not-so-fortunate compatriots.

Standardizing Human Rights in ASEAN

JAKARTA, Aug 25 (Jakarta Post) – Despite the absence of a joint communiqué from the 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), foreign ministers of the regional grouping have agreed to release its “key elements” to public as part of consultations before the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) at the 21st ASEAN Summit in November in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

ASEAN: Useless Body, Superpower or Somewhere in Between?

SINGAPORE (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Say ‘ASEAN’ and South-east Asians are likely to know of their main regional organisation. But this good recall does not always mean they understand how ASEAN really works, its kind of regionalism, or how this relates to their governments’ policies or their daily lives.

Laos’ Herculean Effort to Join the WTO

GENEVA, Apr 30 2012 (IPS) – After almost a decade of major economic transformation, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is on the brink of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership. But the small country’s Herculean effort to join the exclusive trade club is a reminder to the ten other least developed countries (LDCs) now seeking membership of the cumbersome process involved.

Nothing Less Than International Standards

Sixty-three human rights groups in South-east Asia have issued an open letter to the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressing their call that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration “will not be lower than international human rights norms and standards”. The draft declaration, the subject of criticism by rights groups who say it is too weak, is set to be adopted at the ASEAN summit in November 2012. The text of the open letter follows.

Doubts, Anticipation Mix as Cambodia’s SMEs Prepare for 2015

KAMPOT/PHNOM PENH/KAMPONG CHAM, Aug 28 – Cambodia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are busily preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community’s (AEC) free flow of goods in 2015. They are probably not that different from the other 10 ASEAN member states’ own SMEs.

ASEAN at 45

On ASEAN’s ‘birthday’ on Aug. 8, 2012, Moe Thuzar of the ASEAN Studies Centre reflects on the high and low points of the organisation as well as the importance of linking its goals and work to the everyday lives of its constituency.

Myanmar, A Middle-income Country by 2030 – AsDB

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Busy shedding off its reputation as a recluse after decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar is playing catch-up with it neighbours and may well become a middle-income nation by 2030, the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) says in a report released this month.

ASEAN: Expectations, Myths And Facts

There is a lot of discussion in the media and public space about ASEAN, but there are also many misconceptions about the regional organisation, says Rodolfo Severino, Head of the ASEAN Studies Centre.

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