ASEAN urged to formulate policies on women, children in conflict situations

. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION .

An article from InterAksyon

ASEAN should formulate policies on women and children in conflict and post-conflict situations, said participants to the ASEAN institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) symposium on the topic. Policies should include action plans on women in relation to peace and security in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325, said participants to last week’s symposium in Tagaytay organized by Philippine Permanent Mission to ASEAN Ambassador Elizabeth Buensuceso.

ASEAN

In her message to the participants, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman emphasized the need to work together to formulate a responsive framework for peace to be eventually supported by policies and programs to which every ASEAN Member State will adhere.

“Women and children are the most vulnerable and most affected when fighting erupts. But they must not be viewed as the weak sectors, because they are not. Children and women are the potential strongest tools of nations in peace-building, peace-making and peace-keeping,” Soliman said.

Ambassador Buensuceso, for her part, echoed Soliman’s call, suggesting that the main recommendations of the conference be forwarded to the various ASEAN mechanisms and fora for possible inclusion in their work programs and plans of action.

Participants also urged ASEAN to support the development of preventive measures to conflict, such as the advancement of a culture of peace and the promotion of moderation in the region. They said that this can be implemented through activities and initiatives in education, culture, human rights, and political-security, among others, under the various ASEAN-led mechanisms.

The two-day symposium discussed the following: surfacing the plight of women and children in conflict situations; the abuses women and children are exposed to, such as sexual violence, threats to their lives, identity and property, and others; women and children as active participants in conflict resolution and the peace process; and programs and mechanisms to ensure protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of women and children are protected during armed conflict and/or in post-conflict situations.

Speakers included Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Evan P. Garcia, AIPR Governing Council Chair and Malaysia’s Ambassador to ASEAN Hasnudin Hamzah, Ambassador Buensuceso, Ambassador of Norway to ASEAN Stig Ingemar Traavik, Switzerland Ambassador to ASEAN Yvonne Baumann, Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto of Indonesia, and UN Women (Myanmar) Head Dr. Jean D’ Cunha.

Other speakers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines presented actual experiences and case studies.

ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for Socio-Culutural Community Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee also attended the symposium.

Representatives from all ASEAN Member States, including members of the AIPR Governing Council, the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), participated in the symposium.

The AIPR was established to serve as the ASEAN institution for activities and research projects on peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution. The AIPR Governing Council oversees the overall functions and policy direction of the AIPR. It consists of senior representatives from all 10 ASEAN Member States, the Secretary General of ASEAN, and an Executive Director to be appointed by the members.

Questions for this article:

Regional organizations: do they promote a culture of peace?

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