BK partakes in regional civil society empowerment: The Asia Regional Civil Society Experience Summit
September 10, 2014, Manila, Philippines – Bantay Kita, along with 96 civil society leaders working in 21 Asian countries, attended the Asia Regional Civil Society Experience Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia last September 8 to 10, 2014.
High-level officials were present during the first day of the summit to give keynote speeches. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia gave his opening remarks together with Mr. Lawrence Garber of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr. Douglas Broderick of United Nations Development Project (UNDP) Indonesia.
There were a total of 14 sessions including group workshops which were facilitated by USAID, UNDP and Kemlu representatives.
The main objective of the summit is to gather all CSOs in the region and showcase how civil society, government and private sector work together to address various challenges faced by civil society organizations in Asia and develop solutions to those challenges.
The Philippines is one of the countries that have the most vibrant civil society among other Southeast Asian nations. However, CSOs in other countries such as Sri Lanka are not as privileged those in the Philippines. Basing it on his own observations, Garber reported that the once vibrant democracy in Sri Lanka is slowly becoming a closed space due to the pressures of restrictive legislation.
“Let me also make a plea that, as even we discuss the positive contributions of civil society, we not forget the closing and closed spaces in this region, where civil society is denied the right to organize, or is subject to a regulatory regime that is designed to put certain type of organizations out of business, or whose leaders are put in prison, detained and harassed,” Garber said.
By the end of the 2-day seminar, the body was able to come up with a joint statement voicing the challenges that Asian civil society encounters such as the lack of understanding and appreciation by many governments of its role, lack of incentives, restrictive legal and regulatory environment, limited engagement with regional and global partners, limited technology, and inadequate resources and support.
The body also came up with corresponding action areas such as building a conducive environment for CSOs, promotion of innovative relationships with stakeholders, strengthening of communication technologies and regional networks, provision of technical know-how, and the promotion of transparency, accountability and effective governance.
To view the joint statement: