Asia Europe People's Forum -12-

The Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) 12

29 Sep ~ 1 Oct 2018, Ghent, Belgium

The Asia Europe People’s forum (AEPF) is going to take place in Ghent, Belgium from 29 Sep to 1 Oct and the registration for AEPF 12 is now open. Since 1996, AEPF has served as a platform and forum to empower people’s voices for social, economic and human rights across Asia and Europe. Programme for the forum is attached and for further details about the forum, please check out the AEPF website here.

Summary of the AEPF (from the website)

Introduction to AEPF

The Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) has been holding the biennial People's Forum since 1996 when it began as a parallel initiative to the first ASEM Summit held in Bangkok. It was established as a platform and Forum to amplify people's voices on the need to respect and fulfill social, economic and human rights for all across Asia and Europe, and to highlight the importance of developing just, equal and inclusive approaches to regional integrations. For over twenty years, the People's Forum has consistently worked for meaningful civil society, Trade Union and peoples' movements’ participation in the discussions and processes of ASEM and its member's countries. The 12th ASEM-summit, the Heads of State and Government meeting will be held in Belgium, on October 18 and 19, 2018. Following the positive practice since 1996, the AEPF will organize a parallel interregional civil society meeting from September 29 till October 1.

Game-changing Challenges in Our Global Context

Everyday millions of women, men and children across Asia and Europe are living in conditions of growing inequalities, and precarious livelihoods. They experience a more aggressive, divisive, exploiting and excluding neo-liberal globalisation that is systematically destroying livelihood and ecological systems. Forced migration is also a growing reality for millions of people.

Statistical economic growth has been founded on the growing desecration and destruction of our Commons, our resources, our environment, our climate. Our Climate crisis has demonstrated a quick destruction of many species, as historical injustices on climate policies continue. Our governments’ have erased progressive calls to protect the planet and protect the people. We expect an urgent and people centred collective and national responses for framing our futures.

The new phase of neo-liberal globalisation based on control of intellectual and material resources has hastened the pace of corporate capture of legal and political processes. ‘New technologies’, ‘new economics’ and ‘new ways of communicating’ are more of the same, marked by the continuous destruction of many public services and their privatisation. This has led to a crisis in the ability of elected representatives, governments, to fulfil their supposed responsibilities to their citizens, which has polarised people and created an atmosphere of partisan politics that threatened to tear societies apart.  

We are in a world of insiders and outsiders, of a concentration of power and wealth and of the regime of the corporations. Divided and dividing economies have increasingly consolidated dividing and divisive politics.  

A growing number of countries across Asia and Europe are experiencing more authoritarian and excluding politics. In many countries, the space and freedom of people to express their concerns to their elected representatives at local and national levels is being systematically limited, restricted and threatened.  Summarised as shrinking democratic spaces, this translated as an exclusion and suppression of Fundamental Human Rights, Voices, and the Rights to organise, mobilise and demonstrate. This trend that already existed in some authoritarian states has now traversed into managed democracies. 

AEPF12 provides a unique space to share and discuss these lived experiences and how people, communities and social movements are responding by developing and taking forward alternatives essential for more just, equal and inclusive communities, countries and even regions.

Objectives and Aims

The overall aim of the AEPF 12 is to understand and learn from struggles and resistance over the past two decades in Asia and Europe that have confronted and challenged neoliberalism, corporate-led globalization and global capitalism in its various phases. Peoples’ groups in many Asian and European countries have developed critiques, strategies, and actions to dismantle the power of corporations, realize and uphold the rights of people and communities, and reclaim the commons. They are at the forefront of movements for justice; equity; land and resource rights; peace; dismantling/ending nuclear and chemical weapons; working to fulfill the rights of migrants and other displaced peoples, defending rights, freedoms and democratic spaces. Our objectives are to analyze the challenges, the current socio-economic situations and develop and share people's alternatives. Bringing together representatives from social/peoples movements, journalists, academe and elected bodies in Asia and Europe, this Forum will reinforce regional and international solidarities and move forward our collective agenda.

Having the Forum in the weekend will also allow us to realize one of our objectives, make a direct link with the public and citizens’ initiatives in Ghent. The discussions and exchanges will result in an AEPF-Statement to be presented by AEPF-representatives at the beginning of the 2018 ASEM-summit.