The Socialist International Asia-Pacific Committee reaffirms the priority of strengthening democracy and democratic institutions throughout the region based on social democratic principles.
Democratic governance is a necessary foundation to ensure that the human rights and freedoms of all men, women and children are respected and the Committee underlines the need to step up support for democracy especially in countries in the region where it is still weak or lacking.
Closer interaction between the two global democracy movements, the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies and the Community of Democracies, in implementing the Ulaanbaatar Plan of Action and the Santiago Ministerial Commitment respectively, should in our view, be strengthened.
The fight against terrorism can be carried out effectively only when there is a democratic rule of law, inclusive of all people, which guarantees the widest possible citizen participation in the political process.
Democracy can endure only when it works to promote social justice and create more equitable economic opportunities for people within the context of the globalised economy.
To ensure progress along this path, a primary goal must be the deepening of social democracy in the region, particularly through the strengthening of our political parties and organisations and heightened cooperation between them. Women’s participation, including in the work of the Committee, should also be a priority.
The Committee recognises that the task of advancing the common agenda for peace and security in the region goes hand in hand with the goal of strengthening democracy and democratic institutions.
At the same time, reducing tensions between nations, ending the nuclear threat, overcoming challenges to stability and resolving internal conflicts are critical for the region to be able to maintain economic growth, promote development that is sustainable and to institute programmes necessary for protecting the environment.
Multilateral efforts are the most effective approach to achieving peace and security and the Committee urges greater cooperation between nations at the regional and international level in resolving conflicts, particularly through the relevant bodies of the United Nations.
In this regard, the Committee underlines the importance of the work being carried out by the Socialist International toward fundamental reform of the United Nations and other international bodies, as well as the International’s goal of further coordinating the efforts of social democratic parliamentarians working in international and regional organisations, as part of the proposed global network of labour, social democratic and socialist parliamentarians belonging to the International.
The Committee recognises that the problems of international development require a significant input of resources from industrialised countries and supports an evaluation of the feasibility of a capital transfer tax to raise the necessary funds to alleviate all extreme poverty in the world.
The Committee places emphasis on the need for greater cooperation and coordination among nations to strengthen the international community’s response to the tsunami disaster that affected numerous countries in the Indian Ocean region.
The Committee therefore endorses the statement on tsunami and natural disaster preparedness by heads of state at the recent gathering of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), which called for an Indian Ocean multi-nodal early warning system to protect against a repeat of the catastrophe of last December and better coordination when disasters do occur.
At the same time, the Committee urges that any Indian Ocean system be connected to the tsunami early warning system that currently links twenty-six Pacific Ocean nations and that should be enhanced itself as part of the overall effort.
The Committee supports the statement agreed at the NAASP meeting in favour of greater practical cooperation on trade, investment, tourism and technology between the two regions, while emphasising that any efforts to promote economic development must respond to the needs of the poor and marginalised, who invariably suffer the most devastating effects of natural disasters.
The Committee also underlines the linkage between democracy and peace and the prospects for international disaster assistance, noting that aid programmes are most effective and fair when carried out with transparency through the work of democratic institutions and in a safe, secure and lawful environment.
With regard to peace and security in tsunami affected areas, the Committee expresses particular concern about the situations in Sri Lanka and in Aceh in Indonesia, where the already difficult tasks of distributing aid and laying the groundwork for reconstruction have been exacerbated by continuing violence and threats. The Committee urges redoubled efforts by the international community to achieve a lasting solution to the war in Sri Lanka and at minimum a ceasefire in Aceh, and appeals to the sides in the two conflicts not to obstruct assistance to victims of the disaster.
In other regions and countries of Asia and the Pacific, the Committee finds that there continues to be both positive and negative trends as well as a number of issues of great concern:
With regard to North Korea, the Committee remains deeply concerned about the mounting tension following that country’s declaration of nuclear capability and urges the international community to increase diplomatic efforts and seek confidence-building measures to revitalise the six-party talks between North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
The situation in Nepal is a critical concern for the members of the Committee, and we reiterate the call of the Socialist International to the authorities to reinstate all political and civil rights to the Nepali citizens, release immediately all political prisoners, including the Prime Minister who had been at the head of the last government, other cabinet members and senior political leaders, and fully restore democratic rule. At the same time, the Committee deplores the continuing targeting of civilians by the CPN-M insurgents, welcomes the deployment of UN human rights monitors in the country and reaffirms its solidarity with all those in the country striving for peace, democracy and social justice.
The Committee expresses its satisfaction with the continuing progress in the peace efforts between India and Pakistan and hopes that by expanding confidence-building measures on a range of issues, including family reunification and cross-border transport, the two countries can work further toward a resolution to the Kashmir conflict.
In Pakistan, the continuation of military rule remains a serious concern. The Committee expresses hope that recent developments can lead to concrete democratic progress and reaffirms its firm support for the Pakistan People’s Party which, despite a recent wave of arrests against its members, maintains its struggle for peace and security based on full democracy and respect for human rights.
Regarding Cambodia, the Committee is pleased by the continuing progress being made toward achieving justice with regard to the past. At the same time, it notes the concerns recently expressed by the UN special envoy to Cambodia on human rights and urges that every effort be made to guarantee political rights in the country.
The Committee repeats its call for the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Burma, backs the statement by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in support of reform in the country and urges stepped up efforts by all in the international community to achieve democratic change. We join in the demand from the countries of the region that Burma should neither host nor chair the ASEAN next year, while there are no fundamental political changes to open the way for democracy.
With regard to Fiji, the Committee deplores the recent attacks carried out against the Hindu community, reiterates its full solidarity with the Fiji Labour Party in its efforts to overcome all forms of racial discrimination in the country and calls upon the government of Fiji to ensure that democratic rights are respected, including free and independent media, in the run-up to the coming general elections.
The Committee remains concerned by the continuing targeting of progressive activists in the Philippines by both the NPA guerrillas and far right groups and reaffirms its solidarity with Akbayan and the Democratic Socialist Party in their struggle to create a more just society amid such difficult circumstances. At the same time, the Committee reaffirms its support for the ongoing efforts in defence of the people’s democratic gains and to achieve through dialogue peaceful resolutions to internal conflicts.
The Committee expresses its strong concern over the latest developments in Uzbekistan and the serious outbreak of violence in the city of Andijan, underlining the crucial need to uphold human rights, develop democratic institutions and relieve poverty in that country.
In Kyrgyzstan, the Committee notes the return to calm following the flawed parliamentary vote and the public protests that led to the end of the former regime, and calls upon the new government to guarantee that all political rights and civil liberties are respected and to ensure that presidential elections in July are free and democratic.
The Committee is concerned by the continuing challenges to democracy in Kazakstan, calls on the government to remove all restrictions on political activity and to ensure full freedom of the press in preparation for the upcoming presidential vote, and calls for the continued involvement of the international community on behalf of democratisation.
With regard to Afghanistan, the Committee views positively the appointment of a woman for the first time as a provincial governor and the setting aside for women a quarter of all seats in September’s parliamentary election, but again underlines the urgent need for the country’s authorities and the international community to improve security for all citizens, particularly women, and ensure the judicial guarantees necessary for democratic governance.
The Committee remains concerned by the continuing pattern of violent attacks against leading members of the Awami League in Bangladesh and, while noting the recent conviction of several people in connection with one of the attacks, opposes the use of the death penalty and calls for further investigations into the actual originators of the attacks.
The Committee supports the Social Democratic Party of Japan in its efforts to uphold article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which is a fundamental pillar and commitment for peace and a good example for the region and globally.
The Committee is pleased to have been able to meet in Mongolia and expresses its gratitude to the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, the host of this first gathering of the Socialist International in the country. The Committee appreciates the leading role of the MPRP in the strengthening of the country’s democratic institutions and Mongolia’s progress, and extends its best wishes to the party in the run-up to the presidential election and looks forward to their success and the further advances of social democracy in Mongolia.