Declaration of Kathmandu
SI Asia-Pacific Committee meeting in Nepal discusses peace and democracy in the region, 10-11 February 2007
The people of this vast and dynamic Asia-Pacific region have reached a crucial point in their efforts to confront the challenges of advancing and consolidating democracy and securing peace and stability, both within and between nations.
The Socialist International Asia-Pacific Committee underlines that there is ever greater urgency in the need to further those goals through sustained, determined and concerted political action by the social democratic forces, political parties and like minded organisations in the Asia-Pacific region so that the progress achieved in recent decades can be maintained and to ensure that all citizens of the region benefit from the gains that have been made.
The Committee notes with great concern the conclusions of the fourth report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, and the potentially devastating effects of climate change on many parts of Asia and the Pacific, and fully supports the decision of the Socialist International at the SI Council in Santiago in November to establish an SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society.
The Committee reaffirms the fundamental importance of social democratic values and principles — especially solidarity, social justice, human rights, dialogue and international cooperation — in addressing all of these challenges.
The Committee is pleased to be meeting in Kathmandu, as part of the overall and continuing efforts of the Socialist International to help achieve an end to conflict and to protect and strengthen democracy in Nepal, and to further manifest our solidarity with the Nepalese people, the eight-party coalition, notably the SI member party, the Nepali Congress Party and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, in their efforts to ensure a democratic, peaceful and more hopeful future for all Nepali citizens.
The Committee, in line with the previous statements of the Socialist International, reaffirms the support of social democracy from throughout the Asia-Pacific region for the Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2006, and urges that the Accord be fully implemented and respected by everyone involved. In this regard, the Committee expresses its hope that, as the government of Prime Minister Koirala prepares for the elections in June for a Constituent Assembly that will write a new national constitution, the eight-party coalition, including the former rebel insurgents who are now in parliament, will remain united around the fundamental priority of ensuring that the electoral process is carried out in a free, fair and transparent manner.
The Committee, noting the tensions that have surfaced recently in regard to the demands by social groups for inclusion, highly values and supports the efforts of the government to reach out and address the issues that underlie those tensions through the electoral and constituent assembly processes, as well as the decision by those seeking responses to their demands to do so through dialogue and the political process. The Committee is very encouraged that negotiations are to begin to find the ways necessary to ensure the participation and inclusion of all citizens in the country’s political system.
The resettlement of people displaced by the past conflict included in the peace accord was highlighted.
With regard to the participation of women in the political process, the Committee underlined the example of Nepal in this region, where provisions are being made to secure at least a one third representation of women.
The Committee urges the international community to increase efforts to support Nepal as the country continues moving forward on a positive track, and notes especially the work of the United Nations in overseeing the disarmament of the former rebel insurgents that began in January.
The Committee reaffirms that the Socialist International will continue to contribute in every way possible to strengthening democracy in Nepal, including support for the electoral process in the months ahead and by sending an SI delegation to observe the vote in June.
The Committee reiterates the condemnation by the Socialist International of North Korea’s detonation of an atomic weapon in an underground test last October. That act put in jeopardy peace and stability throughout Asia and the Pacific and threatened to undermine disarmament and anti-proliferation efforts everywhere.
The Committee views as very positive the resumption this week of the six-party talks between North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. Multilateral actions are the only viable way to achieve security and peace, and it is only through dialogue and efforts to achieve common ground that tensions can be reduced and progress made toward resolving the ongoing dispute involving North Korea and the issue of nuclear capability.
The Committee recognises that the situation on the Korean peninsula is one of the most difficult issues facing Asia and the Pacific today, one that can suddenly take unexpected and dangerous turns, and calls for the continuing and determined cooperation between the countries of the region and the international community through the United Nations to ensure a lasting and peaceful outcome.
The Committee, viewing other regions and nations of Asia and the Pacific, finds that there continues to be a number of issues of serious concern to the Socialist International:
In relation to Pakistan, the Committee deplores the lack of any significant steps by the military government towards democratic progress and reiterates its solidarity with its member party, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, PPP, in its continued struggle for democracy and human rights in their country, which is crucial to the entire region.
Reaffirming the condemnation by the International of the military coup in Thailand last September, the Committee repeats the call of our movement for the prompt restoration of democratic governance as well as all political rights and civil liberties that are still denied. It notes with concern recent increases in political violence and human rights violations by the military and reaffirms the position of the International that economic and social problems can only be resolved through peaceful and democratic means.
The Committee is very much concerned by recent events in Bangladesh, where extremely flawed preparations led to postponement of the elections due in January and the establishment of an interim government in a tense, often violent climate marked by a declaration of a state of emergency, numerous violations of human rights by security forces and the arbitrary arrests without warrant of political figures from across the spectrum allegedly involved in corruption. The Committee calls upon the authorities to completely update and cleanse the voter list, promptly reschedule the elections and guarantee all political rights and civil liberties in advance of the vote. At the same time, the Committee reaffirms the solidarity of the International with the Awami League in its efforts to ensure democratic governance in Bangladesh and to compete freely in a fair and transparent electoral process.
Reaffirming the International’s longstanding efforts to help free Burma from oppression, the Committee reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners, supports the resolution agreed by the UN General Assembly in December calling for the military government to end army operations that target civilians and systematically violate human rights in ethnic areas, and urges the United Nations Security Council to renew efforts to agree a resolution in favour of democracy and human rights in Burma.
The Committee deplores the coup that took place in Fiji on 5 December and the installation of an interim military government, the latest blow to the prospects for a return to democracy in that country, and fully supports the efforts of the Pacific Islands Forum to help towards a restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Fiji.
With regard to the Solomon Islands, the Committee is concerned by the renewed threat of social upheaval since the elections held last April. The Committee supports regional efforts towards attaining democratic stability and security for all citizens, and underlines the belief of the Socialist International in the importance of economic development in the building and preservation of democracy.
The economically devastating riots and the loss of life in Tonga last November as that island nation struggled to make the transition fully to democratic rule has also been a troubling development, and the Committee supports the efforts of New Zealand, along with Australia, to help with economic recovery and establishing a timetable for democratic reform.
Concerning the Pacific, the Committee recognises the particular challenges faced by small island states in the areas of global warming, building democratic institutions, achieving and maintaining self-determination and attaining economic stability. The Committee recognises the great human and natural potential of the Pacific, and calls for an approach where that potential is developed for the benefit of the people of the region.
With regard to Timor-Leste the Committee hopes that the forthcoming presidential election in April will provide an opportunity to restore confidence in the country’s democratic institutions, and urges all political forces in the country to respect the outcome of the vote and to work within the democratic system as the best way to move forward in overcoming poverty and achieving economic growth. The Committee reaffirms that the Socialist International will continue to support Timor-Leste's efforts to strengthen democracy and calls upon the world community to deepen cooperation with Timor-Leste to ensure sustainable development and security for all its citizens and agrees to send observers to the April elections.
The situation in Sri Lanka continues to be very troubling, with the escalation of the internal conflict and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war and the 2004 tsunami disaster. The Committee urges the international community to redouble efforts to bring the government and the insurgents back to the negotiating table and to restore a ceasefire before the conflict intensifies any further.
With regard to Bhutan, the Committee is concerned by the lack of democratisation and guarantees and respect for political rights and civil liberties, and calls for the release of all political prisoners currently being held in the country. The Committee further calls for an end to the long-time policy of discrimination in Bhutan against the country’s ethnic Nepali population and other communities, thousands of whom have fled to Nepal, and urges the international community, particularly neighbouring nations, to actively promote a just resolution to the refugee crisis, including voluntary repatriation of refugees to Bhutan with full citizenship rights and human rights protections.
The Committee is deeply concerned about the announcement by China in January that it had tested an anti-satellite weapon, the first such test since the Cold War era. This action threatens to provoke an arms race in space and further underlines the need for the world community to create and implement an international treaty that would ban the use of weapons in space.
The Committee reaffirms its support for the Social Democratic Party of Japan in its continuing efforts to uphold article 9 of the Japanese constitution as well as Japan’s non-nuclear policy, both of which provide a positive foundation and model for resolving international disputes in a constructive and peaceful manner.