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Civil Society Position Paper Reviewing and Reframing the ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus

May 5th, 2023  •  Author:   110 organizations  •  8 minute read
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Read the full position paper here: Civil Society Position Paper
 Reviewing and Reframing the ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus

Proposed Five Counter Points

As the failure of ASEAN’s approach and the 5PC points to the bloc’s selective engagement with the military junta and ambivalent recognition of authority, the bloc must leverage its platforms and partnerships — including with ASEAN-Plus and Dialogue Partners — with a priority to end the escalating horrendous violence. For effective implementation of the 5PC, this position paper proposes ASEAN to urgently review and reframe its current approach to the Myanmar crisis.

  • Point 1 on civilian protection and cessation of violence: ASEAN must set an immediate action plan to stop the military’s violence and atrocity crimes, with a minimum benchmark to end the airstrikes as a matter of urgency. In this regard, ASEAN must coordinate an ASEAN-Plus approach involving governments in the region and impose arms embargoes. ASEAN must support the imposition of a global arms embargo, and targeted sanctions. It should further take action to support a referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or an establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal through a UNSC resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
  • Point 2 on inclusive dialogue of all parties: For an inclusive and constructive dialogue among all relevant stakeholders to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, the 5PC must be amended to be holistic, comprehensive, and consistent with the will of the people of Myanmar. First and foremost, ASEAN must initiate formal engagements in meaningful consultation with key stakeholders of Myanmar, including the NUG, the NUCC, the CRPH, EROs and civil society. An implementation plan must be developed at the ASEAN Summit following the bloc’s decision in November 2022. In this plan of action, ASEAN must secure an enabling environment where federal democracy forces and stakeholders are guaranteed agency, respect, and security. This includes an immediate cession of the junta’s violence, persecution of and attacks on democracy forces and collective punishment against the population. ASEAN must also ensure engagements with all parties at all levels in equal terms.
  • Point 3 on ASEAN Special Envoy: The mandate should serve ASEAN as a whole, answering to all ASEAN leaders and foreign ministers, instead of solely the incumbent chair. ASEAN leaders must set up a clear mandate grounded in principles of human rights and do no harm, and justice and accountability. The term should be extended to three years. The mandate must be a full-time position and hold authority and independence to take actions unencumbered by the delay of infrequent ASEAN high-level meetings. Lastly, ASEAN must ensure that the mandate has adequate authority and resources to constructively engage with all stakeholders, including the resources to ensure the ability of Myanmar democracy stakeholders to travel safely.
  • Point 4 on ASEAN’s humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre: ASEAN should restrategise its humanitarian support plan to ensure the discontinuation of the military junta’s representation in the AHA Centre’s Governing Board. Myanmar’s frontline local responders, including border-based civil society and ethnic community-based organisations — who have proven track records of effective aid delivery, must be placed at the centre of the solution. This could be done by encouraging big aid donors to increase their provision of assistance to or minimise burdensome reporting requirements for Myanmar and regional CSOs. ASEAN must pivot to deliver aid through a people-to-people solidarity approach, particularly channeling through Myanmar’s ethnic border regions. While ASEAN realigns its humanitarian operations, it is also paramount that the bloc assumes the responsibility to protect vulnerable groups seeking refuge. ASEAN leaders must ensure asylum and legal protection are granted to those fleeing from Myanmar until they are safe to return home.
  • Point 5 on the Special Envoy’s visits to Myanmar: The mandate must cut ties with the military junta who continues to commit atrocity crimes. The mandate should immediately open formal communications, and must truly engage with key stakeholders which are the NUG, the NUCC, EROs, the CRPH, and CSOs of Myanmar’s Spring Revolution. If the Special Envoy is unable to access Myanmar, then it must engage with these stakeholders by making available and creating all channels in other ASEAN countries.

Conclusion

If ASEAN is unable to deliver on the above mentioned points within three months from the ASEAN Summit on 9 – 11 May 2023, the people of Myanmar will have to determine whether Myanmar’s ASEAN membership is still in their best interest and in line with their struggle for federal democracy. This could potentially lead to Myanmar initiating the process of removing itself from ASEAN.

The intensifying crisis in Myanmar caused by the military junta has not only caused the lack of human security for the Myanmar people, but also wide-ranging implications for regional stability, socio-economic prosperity, and peace. Such problems now extend beyond the country’s borders. Given more self-reflection, ASEAN’s policy framework could be more strategic. Its current approach to the Myanmar crisis needs to be revamped in order to align with the aspirations of the Myanmar people. ASEAN must also acknowledge that the military lacks legitimacy and legality, and does not have control on the ground.

Further, ASEAN must recognise that the military’s attempted coup of 1 February 2021 has failed after two years. It is in the best interest of ASEAN to be decisive in its actions towards Myanmar. ASEAN must seek with no delay concrete coordination and cooperation from the international community. Particularly, ASEAN must urge the UNSC to adopt a resolution on Myanmar under Chapter VII of UN Charter to stop the military’s violence. Such action is a minimum benchmark for the bloc to gain trust from the people of Myanmar and prove that ASEAN is capable of solving the Myanmar crisis and saving people’s lives on the ground.

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The position paper is open to signatories from all Myanmar, regional and international organisations until the next ASEAN Summit in September 2023 and will be updated regularly here: https://progressivevoicemyanmar.org/2023/05/05/civil-society-position-paper-reviewing-and-reframing-the-aseans-five-point-consensus/. To sign on to the position paper, please send your organisation’s endorsement to: [email protected]

As of 3 July 2023, the below organisations have signed the position paper.

Signed by Myanmar organisations

  1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  2. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (Sydney)
  3. Action Committee for Democracy Development (coalition of 12 activist networks)
  4. Active Youths Kalaymyo
  5. Ah Nah Podcast – Conversations with Myanmar
  6. All Burma Democratic Front in New Zealand
  7. Association for Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  8. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  9. Auckland Zomi Community
  10. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  11. Blood Money Campaign
  12. Blooming Padauk
  13. Burma Support
  14. Burmese American Democratic Alliance
  15. Burmese Canadian Network
  16. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, NZ)
  17. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  18. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  19. Chin Human Rights Organization
  20. Chin Community of Auckland
  21. Creative Home
  22. CRPH Funding Ireland
  23. CRPH, NUG Support Team Germany-Deutschland
  24. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
  25. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization
  26. Democratic Youth Council
  27. Educational Initiatives Myanmar
  28. Equality Myanmar
  29. Federal FM – Mandalay
  30. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  31. Freedom and Labor Action Group (coalition of 3 labour activist groups)
  32. Future Thanlwin
  33. Generation Wave
  34. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution
  35. Grass-root People
  36. Help Myanmar (USA)
  37. Human Rights Educators’ Network
  38. International Association, Myanmar-Switzerland
  39. Justice For Myanmar
  40. Karen Human Rights Group
  41. Karen Swedish Community
  42. Karenni Society New Zealand
  43. Keng Tung Youth
  44. Kings N Queens
  45. Kyaukse University Students’ Union
  46. Latsinu Women Agency
  47. Mandalay Regional Youth Association (MRYA)
  48. Mon State Development Center
  49. Myanmar anti-military coup movement in New Zealand
  50. Myanmar Campaign Network
  51. Myanmar Community Group Christchurch New Zealand
  52. Myanmar Community Group Dunedin New Zealand
  53. Myanmar Emergency Fund (Canada)
  54. Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
  55. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  56. Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
  57. Nelson Myanmar Community Group New Zealand
  58. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  59. New Zealand Karen Association
  60. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  61. Olive Organization
  62. Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
  63. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  64. Padauk
  65. Progressive Voice
  66. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  67. Save and Care Organization for Women at Ethnic Border Areas
  68. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  69. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  70. Shan MATA
  71. Southern Dragon Myanmar
  72. Southern Youth Development Organization
    Tanintharyi MATA
  73. Suomi – Myanmar Seura and Myanmar Diaspora Group of Finland
  74. Support group for Democracy in Myanmar (The Netherlands)
  75. Ta’ang Women’s Organization
  76. The Ladies
  77. Women Activists Myanmar
  78. Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar
  79. Women’s League of Burma

Supported in solidarity by regional and international organisations

  1. ALTSEAN-Burma
  2. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights – APHR
  3. Association Suisse-Birmanie
  4. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
  5. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
  6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  7. Burma Action Ireland
  8. Burma Campaign UK
  9. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  10. Central European Institute of Asian Studies
  11. Clean Clothes Campaign South East Asia Coalition
  12. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  13. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
  14. German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy
  15. Info Birmanie
  16. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  17. Institute for Asian Democracy
  18. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  19. Myanmar Accountability Project
  20. Myanmar Action Group Denmark
  21. Netherlands – Myanmar Solidarity Platform
  22. No Business With Genocide
  23. SEA Junction
  24. Social Action for Community and Development
  25. Special Advisory Council for Myanmar
  26. Swedish Foundation for Human Rights
  27. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma
  28. S. Campaign for Burma
  29. Union for Civil Liberty
  30. Women’s Network for Unity
  31. YAPPIKA (Indonesia)
  32. _

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