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ASEAN will Open Up to Viet Nam Skills

HANOI, Oct 29 – ASEAN nations will pilot a free labour market for skilled workers and professionals in 2015 as part of a plan to integrate the region economically. This will enable workers to move freely in the region. However, little information on the process has been made available. Most Vietnamese have never heard of the scheme.

Civil Groups Fail To Delay Adoption Of Declaration

BANGKOK, Oct 13 (Bangkok Post) – Thai civil society organisations have failed in a last-ditch effort to derail the ratification of the Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) at the 21st Asean Summit, to be held in Phnom Penh next month.

Interaction in ASEAN Should Not Just Focus On Liberalisation Alone

BANGKOK, Oct 16 (Bangkok Post) – Further integration and economic growth in Asean should not focus on liberalisation alone, but also take into account inclusivity and poverty, two issues that need more attention across the region, said Indonesian Finance Minister Mahendra Siregar.

MYANMAR: Easy Does It, Foreign Donors Told

TOKYO, Oct 12 (TerraViva) – Foreign donors are rushing into Burma, whose government has been pushing the right political buttons as part of its democratic reform process. But development planners and Burmese activists here caution that the best approach should still be ‘easy does it’.

Rapid Dev’t Eating Up Food Security

TOKYO, Oct 12 (TerraViva) – Call it a flipside of South-east Asia’s robust economic growth: Its economies are churning out healthy growth rates, but this rapid development is also eating into its food security.

‘Flawed’ Human Rights Document Would Hurt ASEAN – Activists

In this Sep.26 open letter, human rights activists argue that “serious flaws” in the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, set to be adopted by ASEAN later in the year, must be addressed. If not, they say, the declaration would “not bode well for the reputation and credibility” of the ASEAN human rights mechanism.

What ‘Public Morality’? Women’s Groups Ask

In this July 2012 statement, the South-east Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN argues that the phrase ‘public morality’ has no place in the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration because it can too easily be used to violate the rights of women and girls.

ASEAN Urged to Set Up Mechanism for Migrants’ Rights

It has been five years since ASEAN adopted a declaration to protect and promote migrant workers’ rights, but it still has not managed to hammer out a legally binding instrument to implement this path-breaking declaration. Critics say ASEAN is much more friendly to business than to its own migrant workers, prompting one to call it “schizophrenic”. Vera Files’ Tess Bacalla reports on ASEAN’s uphill climb to come to terms with the migrants in its midst.

ASEAN Locks Horns on Migrant Workers’ Rights

In the second part of this series, Tess Bacalla looks into ASEAN’s challenge of trying to forge regional policy – and action – on labour migration, a topic that member countries have for long considered a touchy issue and have conflicting interests on.

ASEAN’s 2015 Union May Be Delayed – Surin

PHNOM PENH/MANILA, Sep 12 (Business World Online) – A planned economic union in Southeast Asia is likely to be delayed by a year because some countries are not ready, said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN Dragging Feet on Services FTA – Indian official

SINGAPORE, Sep 10 2012 (The Hindu Business Line) – The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been slower in responding to India’s proposal to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Services, former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said here today.

It Ain’t All Bad

Not all stories of labour migration in Southeast Asia are bleak and foreboding. Many workers are only too happy to have found employment in the region’s more affluent states—with none of the struggles of their not-so-fortunate compatriots.

Laos’ Herculean Effort to Join the WTO

GENEVA, Apr 30 2012 (IPS) – After almost a decade of major economic transformation, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is on the brink of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership. But the small country’s Herculean effort to join the exclusive trade club is a reminder to the ten other least developed countries (LDCs) now seeking membership of the cumbersome process involved.

Nothing Less Than International Standards

Sixty-three human rights groups in South-east Asia have issued an open letter to the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressing their call that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration “will not be lower than international human rights norms and standards”. The draft declaration, the subject of criticism by rights groups who say it is too weak, is set to be adopted at the ASEAN summit in November 2012. The text of the open letter follows.

Doubts, Anticipation Mix as Cambodia’s SMEs Prepare for 2015

KAMPOT/PHNOM PENH/KAMPONG CHAM, Aug 28 – Cambodia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are busily preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community’s (AEC) free flow of goods in 2015. They are probably not that different from the other 10 ASEAN member states’ own SMEs.

Myanmar, A Middle-income Country by 2030 – AsDB

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Busy shedding off its reputation as a recluse after decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar is playing catch-up with it neighbours and may well become a middle-income nation by 2030, the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) says in a report released this month.

Activists Demand Consultations on Human Rights Document

In a joint statement released on April 8th (full text below), over 130 local, national and regional civil society organizations across the ASEAN region called on more consultations in drafting the ASEAN human rights declaration.

Myanmar Turns ASEAN’s Democracy Beacon

BANGKOK, Apr 12 (IPS) – Long Southeast Asia’s black sheep, Myanmar is
enjoying an image change following its landmark Apr. 1 by-elections.
Tongues are now wagging about the region’s new beacon of hope for
democratic change.

ASEAN Backs Burma’s Call to End EU Sanctions

BURMA, Apr 3 (Irrawaddy Magazine) – The Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (Asean) agreed on Monday to back Burma’s call for the European
Union to lift sanctions on the country, a day after a by-election in
which Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a
landslide victory.

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