ASEAN Youth Statement 2012

ASEAN Youth Forum 2012 has been held from 26-28 March 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This forum is a pre-event before the annual ASEAN People’s Forum, which will be held on 29-31 March 2012 which serve as a platform for civil society in ASEAN countries from cross-sectional issues to share what’s really happening in South East Asia countries. IPPF ESEAOR Youth Network have our youth representative from Cambodia MA, RHAC to participate in this event and be a part of this recommendation. Young people in this forum has made a recommendation toward ASEAN leaders, here they are:

ASEAN Youth Statement 2012: Our uproar for a better life in our ASEAN community

We, the youth leaders of Southeast Asia representing the countries of Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and youth representatives from China are once again making our voices heard, mainstreaming our issues and initiating our role in actively promoting, monitoring and protecting our rights and freedoms as peoples of the ASEAN community.

We bring to the forefront our concerns which totally affect our lifestyles in this region. We stand united in pursuing a WHOLISTIC approach to effectively address and politicize youth issues at the local, national and regional levels.

We urgently demand for immediate action in facilitating the full actualization of our Humanity: OUR MIND, OUR BODY and OUR HEART.

OUR MIND

Governments and civil societies must realize, acknowledge and fully understand that young people play a huge role in the community and society right at this very moment and every moment. We envision a sustainable and people-centered ASEAN in which we play important and meaningful acts to achieve our common objective as a region. We urge our governments and civil society to realize young people’s rights to access to information, get capacity building, and involved meaningfully within ASEAN, our communities, countries and the world.

Sustainable and Quality Education for All

Since it was established, ASEAN community has shared common issues related to our education: (1) insufficient qualified teaching staffs, (2) poor education facilities, (3) unequal education opportunities for key populations, vulnerable and marginalized groups_, and (4) lack of programs that cater to the career wants of the youth. Young people in ASEAN must be empowered to access free and qualified basic education so that they can address their needs in order to find their own solutions, make their own decisions, and realize their own choices.

  • We strongly urge the ASEAN to establish the regional education standard which fully ensures the quality of academics, especially in rural and remote areas by enhancing their capacity through sustainable training programs and support for research activities and higher studies.
  • We urge governments to spend at least 20% of their national budget for primary education to provide acceptable salaries for all school staff, improve accessibility in terms of cost and facilities and to allocate budget for curriculum reform.
  • We urge ASEAN to focus its policies on ensuring Education for All, particularly for youth in key populations.
  • We urge ASEAN to strengthen policies which will foster full access to and enhance quality of alternative education such as vocational studies, life skills education and community-based education.
  • We urge ASEAN governments to regulate and restrict policies that would lead to commercialization of education.
  • We urge ASEAN governments to establish, support and integrate an ASEAN Community Volunteer Center/Network in all levels of education in every country in Southeast Asia.

OUR HEART

We are witnessing a massive decline of understanding and interest from the majority of ASEAN youth in taking part in the movement for a better, people-centered and human rights-based ASEAN community. Young people in ASEAN should be empowered to ensure the sustainability within ASEAN to be a better, people-centered, and human rights-based community.

Meaningful Youth Participation in all parts of the Region
There is a limited and restricted space for freedom of expression and meaningful participation among youth from diverse groups in many parts of the Southeast Asian region. Most existing youth groups have been expressing their opinions and taking concrete actions on critical issues in public without legal protections.

  • We demand the ASEAN governments to fully recognize the voice of the youth, in response to addressing their issues at all levels. The ASEAN Youth Forum must be given full recognition in its efforts to sustain a free space for discussion among youths, to provide relevant recommendations and to actively monitor policies related to their issues.
  • We demand ASEAN governments to fully support and encourage the establishment of more youth forums and dialogues between governments, youth organizations and individuals from all sectors.
  • We demand for the establishment of mechanisms and to ensure their effective implementation within ASEAN for meaningful youth involvement (including key population and various youth sectors) especially in decision making processes, meeting and activities.
  • We call for strong support for young people’s meaningful participation, leadership and involvement at all levels and types of decision making on sexual and reproductive health and rights, education, environment, and peace including in policy creation, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  • We demand for ASEAN governments to invest in youth leadership by increasing their capacity and knowledge on ASEAN mechanisms through active participation in forums and workshops.
  • We strongly demand ASEAN governments to establish a rights-based legal framework on the protection of political youth individuals, groups, and movements.

Engaging Young People at the Heart of Democratization, Peace building and Conflict Transformation

Conflict and violence still exist in many ASEAN countries. These are brought about by political unrest, national interest, social benefits, and faulty historical teaching. Examples of conflict issues are: border conflict, labor rights violation, discrimination of migration workers by State authorities and companies and natural resource exploitation such as land concession, dams, deforestation, etc. Conflicts among government and civil society have been on-going in many ASEAN countries. The youth still face political fear and are unaware of many political issues. Moreover, they fall as victims to state, community and domestic violence.

  • We strongly demand ASEAN governments to initiate efforts on democratization and peace building.
  • We demand ASEAN governments to support an independent committee, consisting of country representatives from each ASEAN State, to develop a people-centered history of the Southeast Asian region.
  • We urge the ASEAN to pursue a regional educational program which fosters understanding among its peoples specifically young people. Peace learning modules and cultural exchange programs should be included in all curricula.
  • We strongly encourage ASEAN leaders to prioritize peaceful methods such as dialogues, negotiation (with the participation of the youth) in solving conflicts and promoting social justice.
  • We strongly ask for the common ASEAN labor law in order to protect and promote the rights of young, local and migrant workers within countries in the region.

OUR BODY
We are currently living in a context which threatens our health and the environment around us. More and more of our ASEAN youths perish because of ineffective, lack of policies and promotion of these policies as well as gaps of implementation which greatly affect our bodies and the ecosystem we co-exist with in achieving sustainable development.

Better Protection and Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Policies and Services

There is indeed an immense gap on the comprehensive information of young people’s sexuality, which is a key factor in enabling young people to make informed choices to enjoying the highest attainable quality of life.

  • We demand for ASEAN governments, ASEAN secretariat and committees leaders to acknowledge and prioritize the universality of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as human rights especially in addressing our sexual diversity and gender identity.
  • We strongly urge the ASEAN governments to provide access to comprehensive sexuality education within in and out of school curriculum; and youth friendly health service including services for unwanted pregnancies, pre and post safe abortion care, emergency contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV and AIDS. The youth friendly health services shall be cost effective, gender sensitive and rights based that put forward the confidentiality, non-judgmental attitudes and provision of wider choices of modern methods.
  • We call for the removal of legal, policy and cultural barriers, including parental and spousal consent for young people particularly young women to exercise their rights. ASEAN governments and stakeholders shall utilize evidence based policy making strategies on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
  • We demand for youth centered budget in national health system financing in all ASEAN countries.
  • We urge governments, ASEAN secretariat and committees for ensuring the availability of quality-scientific based data on ASEAN countries that address the gap of young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights which utilize the International Conference on Population and Development plan of action indicators that enabling community to actively engage in data collection and analysis for the creation of evidence based advocacy and policy making.
  • We urge ASEAN governments to strengthen the implementation of humanitarian response on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights related to disaster management especially when attending to the needs of youth-survivors.

Sustainable Development in the Protection of and Responsibilities for the Environment

Development activities in ASEAN can be associated with natural resource and environmental exploitation. Its peoples, especially the youth, are facing challenges such as air and water pollution, soil degradation which are the basic needs for human existence. Massive exploitation of natural resources in ASEAN is brought about by development projects such as roads, highways, bridges, power grid, dams, mining, nuclear power plants, natural gas extraction etc. These infrastructures may facilitate free flow of labor and goods but governments must also ensure the protection of environment and affected communities in the process. ASEAN citizens must be fully educated to responsibly manage and use natural resources and fully participate in decision making processes related to development projects.

  • We strongly call for ASEAN governments to create and support accessible platforms to discuss about the “Right of Our Earth_” in ASEAN to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations. They need to initiate mechanisms to monitor case studies on “Right of Our Earth” in the region. They must meaningfully engage the youth in this effort.
  • We demand the ASEAN to establish and implement regional, national and local guidelines/policies that require ASEAN member states to fully apply rights-based and Corporate Social Responsibility approaches to Environmental domestic laws, Foreign Direct Investment law, safeguard policies. Comprehensive, genuine and accurate Environmental Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment, Health Impact Assessment at the community level must be practiced at all times.
  • We urge the ASEAN to enforce mechanisms for public youth consultations, that must comply with other international standards. Free Prior Informed Consent, to ensure transparency and accountability for environmental sustainability.
  • We demand ASEAN to set up an environmental fund_ for natural disaster response with emphasis on programs for youth affected by natural and man-made calamities.

OUR ASEAN!

OUR SPIRIT!

OUR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY!

Phnom Penh, March 2012

Undersigned by organization and network that contribute to the creation of the statement.

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Advocacy Statement from Youth Activists and Advocates from Asia Pacific for the 45th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

Young activists and advocates from Asia-Pacific demand full recognition of young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights for the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development

We, young activists and advocates from across Asia and the Pacific belonging to various backgrounds and a range of movements; and organizations [1], welcome the forty-fifth theme of the Commission on Population and Development – ‘Adolescents and Youth’.

In 2011, there are 7 billion people in the world; with young people between the ages 10 and 24 accounting for nearly half that number. Eighty-five percent of young people live in developing societies and face grave health concerns, including sexual and reproductive health that have grave implications on access to information, services, and resources. Fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is an integral part of our health, and has an impact on all aspects of a young person’s life, and thus must be prioritized to enhance our health, well-being, and rights. Keeping this at the forefront of the agenda, we make the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Protection of reproductive rights as human rights, and international recognition and adoption of sexual rights as human rights
Asia and the Pacific accounts for approximately 850 million young people [2]. We face multi-layered problems such as the issues of employment, poverty, education, and health that intersect with harmful cultural and traditional norms; impacting and restricting our access to a spectrum of rights, including SRHR, which are protected under instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In addition, the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, the Yogyakarta principles, and the World Programme of Action for Youth affirms our SRHR, bodily integrity, and the right for young people to meaningfully engage in decision making process.

Recommendation 2: Mainstreaming gender and a youth-centered budget in health system financing
Young women and girls in low-income countries continue to face the risks of permanent disability and death due to pregnancy-related conditions and experiences severe forms of gender-based violence.[3],[4] Young women and girls in the region also face the politics of gender inequality, puberty[5], parental and marriage consent[6]which pose further challenges in obtaining accurate and rights-based information about their own bodies, reproductive health, and sexuality[7]; thus endangering their health & well-being even more. Each year, there are an estimated 2.7 million unintended pregnancies among adolescent women living in South Central and Southeast Asia [8]. Ninety-three percent of unintended pregnancies in South Central and Southeast Asia are experienced by adolescent and young women, and occur among those who are using traditional or no contraceptive methods [9]. There is an added concern of access and support networks available for young married women, as services and relevant information are not accessible and available to them.

Recommendation 3: Provision of access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and access to Youth Friendly Services for all young people; including pre and post safe abortion care and services

The South-East Asian and the Pacific regions have the second highest HIV prevalence rates with about 1.27 million young people currently living with HIV [10]. The United Nations Secretary General’s report reflects that in 2007, national surveys found that 40 per cent of young males (ages 15-24) and 36 percent of young females had accurate knowledge regarding HIV — still well below the goal of achieving 95 per cent of young people having accurate HIV knowledge, which was unanimously endorsed by Member States in the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS[11].

Young peoples’ lack of access, especially young girls, to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights is of intense concern. Comprehensive Sexuality Education that is framed in a positive, gendered manner and grounded in a human rights approach will go a long way towards empowering young people with the knowledge, tools, and skills to determine and enjoy their sexuality in a safe, comfortable, and healthy way.

Recommendation 4: Removal of legal, policy and cultural barriers, including parental and spousal consent for young people, particularly young women to exercise their rights.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) explicitly recognizes the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people; identifying it as an issue requiring urgent attention and efforts. It also emphasizes the right of young persons to access services & information; respecting their right to privacy and confidentiality. However, matters of age; marital status; parental consent; and related cultural/traditional concepts restrict young people’s access to services, resources, information, and rights,

As the leaders within our communities today and as leaders of the future; we make the following recommendations:

1. Protection of reproductive rights as human rights and international recognition & adoption of sexual rights as human rights.
2. Mainstreaming gender, and a youth-centered budget in National health system financing
3. Provision of access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and access to Youth Friendly Services for all young people, including comprehensive services for unintended pregnancies with pre and post safe abortion care and services
4. Removal of legal, policy and cultural barriers, including parental and spousal consent for young people, particularly young women, to exercise their rights.
5. Support for young people’s meaningful participation, leadership and involvement at all levels and types of decision making on development issues, especially sexual and reproductive rights and health, including in policy creation, planning, implementation & evaluation.
6. Ensuring the availability of quality, scientific-based data on Asian and Pacific young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights that enables communities to actively engage in data collection and analysis for the creation of evidence based advocacy and policy making. .

We strongly believe that it is only with meaningful investment in young people and the fulfillment of our rights that we can achieve the goals of the ICPD PoA, and continue to lead healthy lives. We strongly urge the commission to consider and adopt these recommendations at the earliest.

[1] Young people whose Working with communities of young women and girls, young people living with HIV/AIDS, young people who use drugs, young sex workers, young people of diverse sexualities, young transgendered persons, young men who have sex with men, young environmentalists.
[2] Civil Society Statement for the 42ND Session of the Commission on Population and Development 2009.
[3] WHO. 2009. Women and Health: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Agenda. WHO Press: Geneva.
[4] WHO. 2005. Summary Report: WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Initial Results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. WHO Press: Geneva.
[5] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers, and health educator. UNESCO. 2009
[6] ARROW for Change: Young and Vulnerable—The reality of unsafe abortion among adolescent and young women. Vol.13 No.3.ARROW. 2006.
[7] ARROW for Change: HIV/AIDS and SRHR—How was Funding Fuelled the Divide. Vol 12 No.1.ARROW. 2006
[8] The Guttmacher Institute. Facts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Of Adolescent Women in the Developing World. New York: The Guttmacher Institute, 2010.
[9] Rosen, J. Position paper on mainstreaming adolescent pregnancy in efforts to make pregnancy safer. World Bank: Washington, DC, 2010
[10] Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Young People and HIV factsheet. GYCA. New York: 2007
[11] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers, and health educator. UNESCO. 2009