“Twenty years have passed since SAARC was established, twelve Summits and any number of meetings have been held, doctor but the concrete results achieved for the advancement and well-being of the people of the region have been rather modest. Future generations will probably find it difficult to understand why their South Asian forefathers, constituting more than one fifth of mankind and blessed with great cultural affinities and economic complementarities and facing the same problems, failed so comprehensively and for so long to unite in order to create a better quality of life for their peoples.”
From 24th to 26th February 2006, Mumbai hosted an ‘event’ – not of the kind for which the megapolis has come to be known in the recent years. Tucked in a corner of the northern suburb in a very modest surrounding with strong socialist roots, the location of this international event held special significance. However, the mainstream media opted to ignore it altogether and it is this deliberate neglect, which perhaps more than anything else, reveals just not the essential character of the present-day media – that promotes sensationalism, but also the great and ‘explosive’ potential of this path breaking ‘event’.
Mr. Pierre Sané, ampoule Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences
Speech at the opening ceremony on the Symposium ‘Social dimensions of regional integration’, UNESCO, view MERCOSUR, GASPP and UNU-CRIS, Montevideo (Uruguay) – 21 to 23 February 2006
>Download the speech (PDF)
Jenina Joy Chavez?, more about Focus on the Global South
The number of migrant labor in the ASEAN, predominant in low-skilled work and many of whom are undocumented, reaches two-three million workers in the big receiving countries of Thailand and Malaysia alone. Increased FDI flows are also associated with greater movements of professional and skilled workers within the ASEAN region, but it is the movement of low- and unskilled workers that needs greater attention. Trade and investment liberalization in the region prompts restructuring across industries and employment sectors, giving rise to race-to-the-bottom issues. Such restructuring highlights further the importance of treating migration as integral rather than separate from labor and general social protection issues.
The establishment of regional agreements on social protection and integration, with particular focus on migration and labor standards, will not only help increase the profile of ASEAN among ordinary citizens and facilitate its socialization but will recognize the economic nature of migration in the region. Mechanisms, though limited, are in place within the region to push for this agenda –from the opportunities provided by Track II discussions to regional coalition building – the challenge lies in making the issue an active concern in official ASEAN agenda. Given that intra-ASEAN trade lags behind ASEAN trade with big economies like China, South Korea and Japan, and that these countries receive a substantial number of ASEAN migrant labor, expansion of the agenda to include them is imperative and provides relevant confidence building opportunities towards the formation of an East Asian Community.
>Download the Charter (PDF)