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ASEAN Governance: Is there a role for civil society?

2017 ASEAN will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Progress has been made towards more close-tied regionalism in Southeast Asia and mechanisms for joint governance have become more sophisticated. However, while ASEAN as an inter-governmental institution is keen to collaborate with the business sector and closely engage with it at all levels, its relationship with civil society remains fraught with tensions. Civil society groups have little space to formally interact with ASEAN with the possible exception of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples' Forum (ACSC/APF). At the same time civil society groups are struggling to find an effective strategy on how to engage with ASEAN.
At the same time if ASEAN is to realize it promise of becoming a community of people and not only an economic community, recognition and participation of civil society is essential. In this context, there are questions on how to carve the space for civil society to become a part of ASEAN processes; what strategies can be tried to foster political will and greater acceptance of civil society groups by governments as well as more effective engagement of civil society; and what kind of structures need to be put in place for civil society engagement. 
Provocatively asking if there is a role for civil society in ASEAN governance, the panel to be held on 12 October 2016 (Wed) at 5.30PM at SEA Junction will start from the assumption that to realize a people-centered ASEAN as promised in the ASEAN Charter the contribution of civil society groups to regional development cannot be ignored. Panelist will reflect on how ASEAN and civil society groups can address the challenge of a more representative governance system and provide concrete strategies to this aim for the future of ASEAN as a growing institution and of the region as a whole. 
Moe Thuzar Fellow, Lead Researcher (Socio-Cultural Affairs), ASEAN Studies Centre & Coordinator, Myanmar Studies Programme

Romeo Arca Jr., Assistant Director/Head of the ASEAN Secretariat’s Community Relations Division

Charles Hector, Human Rights Defender and Member of the Malaysian Bar


Date and time:  12 October 2016 at 5pm-7pm

Location: SEA Junction, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) 


SEA Junction, OUR venue to connect on Southeast Asia (see

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia is the regional office of the German Green Political Party Foundation and conducts and supports civic educational activities in Southeast Asia.


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