by Nguyen Phuong Nga, Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) (Vietnam)
On 2 February 2012, for the first time, representatives from Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) have shared information about the mechanisms that promote human rights, such as ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), with 65 representatives from civil organizations, non-governmental organizations and civil society networks.
All participants expressed a desire to construct a formal and regular mechanism to share information and cooperate in the process of building ASEAN community towards people. This meeting is jointly organized by Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO), People’s Participation Working Group (PPWG) and the Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD).
Ton Thi Ngoc Huong, Deputy Director of ASEAN Affairs, MOFA and Cao Thi Thanh Thuy, Deputy Director of International Cooperation, MOLISA presented basic information about the process of building ASEAN community, activities of particular commissions such as AICHR, ACWC as well as the process of drafting the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights (ADHR). Both emphasized the important role of peoples and non-governmental organizations in building a people-centered ASEAN community.
Le Quang Binh, chair of People’s Participation Working Group (PPWG), on behalf of NGOs, made a presentation on the contribution of civil society organizations in the development of the country, the protection of the the rights of minorities, women, children, homosexuals, disabled, people living with HIV and other disadvantaged people. He emphasized the abilities and desires of NGOs to be involved in sharing information through a formal and regular channels with state agencies.
Nguyen Thi Hoang Van also shared information about ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) and encouraged civil organizations and NGOs to involve in this process.
Many CSO representatives appreciated the session with representatives of MOFA and MOLISA. This is a good precedent for CSO- state agencies information-sharing and cooperation. The participants affirmed their commitment to share information from the base, practical experiences and resources with state agencies to promote and protect human rights.