The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF 2014) has concluded its 6th Meeting in Yangon, Myanmar, with a statement that includes a strong Support for the Rights of migrants, in particular addressing the Situation of youth in Migration. This is of high significance in a Region that includes countries like Cambodia where around 40 percent of the populations is less than 20 years old and especially vulnerable when forced into Migration by economic or other circumstances. The Yangon Declaration calls for
the following measures with regards to “Youth in Migration: Assuring Safety, Freedom, and their Rights (trafficking, refugees, statelessness, and migrant workers)”:
o Implement formal and educational curricula that emphasizes on people-centred history, human rights, migration and cultural appreciation;
o Ensure full access of young migrant people to all levels of formal, skills-based, informal and non-formal education;
o Develop and implement policies that promote and protect the rights and freedoms of young migrant people especially undocumented, stateless, asylum seeking young people; and
o Immediately ratify international labor and human rights conventions that directly affect young migrant people.
The Meeting in Yangon was Held ahead of the ASEAN Peoples Forum that started today and which I am currently attending. Both Meetings can be considered to a Landmark to say the least. They are part of Myanmars first presidency of the regional organisation and the nations Civil Society seized the opportunity to bring up a vast range of issues which would have been unthinkable to be addressed even three years ago. These include Democracy, good governance, anti-land grabbing, anti-trafficking, the situation of sex workers, forced Migration, corruption and very strong Support for the Rights of LGBT – quite brave in a Country where homosexuality still faces jail sentence (although this has not been enforced recently, but LGBT still face harassment and abuse).
Migration is an issue where regional Cooperation is of particular relevance, but declarations and Task Forces aside, ASEAN has been seriously lacking in finding common policies. Civil society has been one step ahead forming regional Networks and aiming for alternative regionalism. The AYF declaration and demands will be presented to the ASEAN heads of states summit in Yangon in May – and the representatives promise not to shy away from sensitive issues.
(UPDATE 28-11-2014: Read the full Report here:
Here are some Pictures from the youth concert concluding the AYF Meeting.