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20-12-07, 12:59
World Forum for Democratization in Asia

Framework for Action, 2007-2009


Adopted on 21 September 2007 at the close of the second biennial conference of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA) in Manila, Philippines (19-21 September 2007)

The following will be the priority activities for WFDA between now and the next Biennial Conference in 2009. They are grouped into the categories of global participation, regional strategies, and country-specific focus areas.

Participation in Global Democracy Forums

WFDA will endeavor to coordinate and support Asian participation in the growing number of global forums dedicated to the advancement of democracy. In particular, over the next two years WFDA will develop a constructive role with the following:

World Movement for Democracy: WFDA will coordinate Asian participation in the WMD Fifth Assembly to be held on 6-9 April 2008 in Kyiv, Ukraine, including organizing a regional workshop during the event, as well as publicizing the outcome.

International Conference on New and Restored Democracies: WFDA will assist in organization of an Asian regional workshop to exchange experience in developing democratic governance indicators that will help assess and monitor progress in democratic reforms in emerging democracies in Asia, to be organized by the Asian chapter of the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy (ICSFD) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in the first quarter of 2008.

Community of Democracies: WFDA will assist and participate in regional and global activities of the Non-Governmental Process to develop the regional strategy towards the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the CD that will take place in Bamako, Mali, from 15-17 November 2007. WFDA will also coordinate regional follow-up activities and preparatory events for the Fifth Ministerial Meeting to be held in Portugal in 2009.

Regional Activities

WFDA's primary focus is on developing a regional community of democrats. We are convinced that greater linkages among democrats from different sub-regions, different countries, and different sectors will generate useful sharing of experience and effective momentum for democratization. Therefore, WFDA will engage in the following activities on a region-wide basis.

Communicating Asia's commitment to democracy

In order to ensure that the views of Asian democrats are heard, WFDA will:

Encourage the development of an "Asian voice" for democracy, to raise the profile of Asian democrats speaking for Asia, for example through radio, the internet, and other media. Cultural media (music, arts, etc.) shall also be used as a means to raise awareness.

Establish strong linkages with diplomatic missions and relevant international agencies in the region, to ensure that they receive accurate and documented information on abuses and issues of concern.

Disseminate the reports, statements, and other documents of participating organizations and partners through the WFDA website (www.wfda.net). Ensure the strategic and effective distribution of these documents to key stakeholders and decision-makers.

Implementation of international human rights standards

Implementation of universal democratic principles is essential to sustaining Asian democracy. Meanwhile, Asia is alone in the world in its lack of official or inter-state regional human rights mechanisms. Therefore, WFDA will support efforts to promote effective implementation of international human rights standards and to establish regional mechanisms, including working to:

Engage governments to ratify and implement all major international human rights instruments, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and those relating to the treatment and assistance of refugees, asylum-seekers and non-citizens, as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Encourage the creation of effective regional or subregional human rights mechanisms, starting with supporting civil society campaigns for ASEAN and SAARC to establish a strong human rights body consistent with international standards and practices, which can be replicated to other sub-regions. Further, support efforts to establish national human rights bodies which comply with the Paris Principles, as well as to ensure the continued compliance of already existing bodies.

Supporting comparative research and advocacy on constitutional reform, to identify deficits in existing or proposed constitutional arrangements, as well as to extend solidarity to those who are campaigning for reform in each country.

Encouraging the sharing of best practices for transparency and accountability, such as anti-corruption measures and guarantees of public access to information.

Monitoring and assessment of progress towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goal #5 on human rights, democracy and good governance.

Action for defense of human rights

The regional gap in official human rights institutions has been partially filled by a number of vibrant and dynamic civil society led or initiated human rights mechanisms. WFDA will expand upon these efforts by:

Establishing a mechanism for the defense of critical cases, such as an Asian Legal Defense Fund, an international legal resource center for defense of human rights defenders and journalists under threat, and a mechanism to review politically motivated libel and defamation cases. This will include creating a network of human rights lawyers to share experiences and build capacity for legal advocacy and defending critical cases.

Working with existing regional or sub-regional organizations to carry out fact-finding missions to address urgent threats to democracy and human rights violations, as well as to promote conflict prevention or resolution.

Launching a multi-country solidarity campaign, the "WFDA Watch List," to identify the top priority political prisoners from around the region and jointly work for their release. In particular, lesser-known cases should be placed alongside famous ones, to raise their profile.

Defending Civil Society in Asia

To help build a response to efforts by various governments to restrict the space in which civil society organizations in Asia carry out their democracy and human rights work, including their work on economic, social and cultural rights, WFDA will:

Promote the World Movement for Democracy’s Defending Civil Society report that explores in depth the widely accepted norms and principles that are being violated by various regimes around the world—such as the rights to association, advocacy, and assembly, as well as access to international solidarity and support.

Help incorporate the Defending Civil Society report into national and regional dialogue processes by modifying the content of the report with national contexts, organizing national civil education campaigns, organizing a regional conference to share experience and knowledge related to the national processes.

Help organize discussions of anti-terrorist laws and their impact on civil society.

Urge democracies in Asia, such as India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, to accept the Defending Civil Society report and take the lead in promoting efforts for defending civil society groups throughout the region.

Recognize the work of progressive and tolerant religious groups to strengthen civil society, promote democracy and defend human rights.

Whenever possible, advocate in the international arena for autonomous NGOs and assist them in the process of gaining international recognition and consultative status from UN and other international organizations. WFDA will condemn governments’ efforts to supplant autonomous NGOs by creating barriers for their registration while creating increasing numbers of GONGOs that aim to dilute, divert and diffuse resources meant to strengthen human rights and democracy.

Promoting political accountability

In Asia's democratizing countries, political accountability often remains underdeveloped or inadequate. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support programs on promoting healthy political party systems, in particular by advocating universal values and human rights principles as the basis of party manifestos, internal party democracy, and the participation of women and other underrepresented groups.

Facilitate processes and dialogue to promote consultation between parties and civil society, especially in situations where there is a potential for greater grassroots or community participation in politics, such as local councils or regional representation.

Encourage processes to empower local governments, including appropriate budgetary authority, so they can play their proper role as an essential avenue for participation of citizens.

Support standards for independent media that will increase their capacity and role to promote and defend democracy and human rights.

Promoting the role of women in democracy & the political process

A crucial element of any country's democratization must be to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in political representation and political participation. Therefore, WFDA will support programs and dialogue to encourage women's participation in politics, such as:

Discussion of the ways to implement quotas for female candidates or elected members of legislatures and to support quotas for women not just based on biological identity, but also on political identity and principles such as anti-corruption.

Promotion of training of women for political office.

Supporting enhancement of conditions necessary for women’s political participation at the grassroots and beyond, including access to education, livelihood and economic independence.

Creating a monitoring mechanism for WFDA on women’s political participation.

Establishing an ongoing women’s forum/caucus within WFDA to exchange legislation, information and experiences to promote women’s political participation and leadership.

Tackling conservative and anti-democratic “traditions” that are being used to suppress women in the name of culture.

Promoting actions to address the specific targeting and exploitation of women in conflict zones as violations of human security, and promote the participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution.

Promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues of peace and conflict resolution

In many parts of Asia, notably in Aceh, Mindanao, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Southern Thailand, and Timor Leste, domestic conflicts have become major threats to democracy. Democratic governments must be able to deliver peace and stability without destroying human rights in the process. Therefore, WFDA will:

Encourage the formation of a regional mechanism among and between governments, civil society, and multi-lateral and regional inter-state organizations to promote dialogue and intercultural interactions to promote peace, security, and stability in the region. This could also provide a forum for negotiation on local conflicts.

Support peace-building efforts by civil societies in conflict areas, following the example set by organizations such as the Initiatives for International Dialogue and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), including the sharing of experience among relevant organizations in various countries.

Address concerns about foreign military interventions in the region that undermine the sovereignty of states and create obstacles to democratic development and consolidation.

Supporting Free and Fair Elections

Free and fair elections are an essential component of any democracy. Effective observation by neutral and credible organizations helps ensure the quality of election processes. Therefore, WFDA will:

Create mechanisms whereby there is consultation with political parties, election commissions, election monitoring agencies, and donors whereby changes in laws and voter registration are addressed and solved early thus ensuring a free and fair election.

Supporting comparative research and advocacy regarding election processes, to promote best practices for ensuring free and fair elections.

Support efforts to upgrade the credibility and effectiveness of election authorities throughout the region, including ensuring their political independence and administrative capacities.

Strengthen cooperation with domestic, regional (e.g. ANFREL), and international partners working on election monitoring activities in the region.

Participate in efforts guaranteeing the conduct of free and fair elections in the region; pay particular attention to the Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal in November 2007, the parliamentary election in Thailand in December 2007, the parliamentary election in Pakistan in January 2008, the parliamentary elections in Cambodia in July 2008, and any election that may be held in Bangladesh.

Promoting Youth Action for Democracy, Human Rights and Peace

The active engagement of young people is essential to a healthy democracy, because they provide creative ideas and energy for reform. However, youth voices are all too often neglected in political processes. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support the development of a WFDA Youth Caucus, which will exist as a young people’s network within WFDA. It will also work as the regional arm of the World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD).

Help facilitate the creation of network of youth advocates and determine best practices for supporting youth participation in the promotion of democracy, human rights and peace.

Other regional activities

Support links among faith-based organizations in the region to promote human rights and democracy, building on the work to protect religious freedoms and develop autonomous civil society.

Support or sponsor a series of workshops targeted at promoting and providing training for civil non-violent action.

Support or host an event to discuss the opportunities and problems of governments-in-exile, including issues of preparedness for transition. Such an event would enable sharing of experience both among countries with such governments (e.g. Tibet, Burma) and with overseas democratic movements that may be considering setting up such governments.

Establish contacts with movements and organizations inside and outside the region facing similar issues, such as those of autonomy and self-determination.

Support the development of independent media, including the internet and community radio, in order to improve access to information and strengthen the capacity to advocate for democracy.

Develop a contacts database of all Asian pro-democracy national and regional civil society organizations, to enable better communication and coordination of activities.

Support democracy and civic education programs, including the establishment or strengthening of democracy education institutions, sharing of best practices, curriculum development, translation of relevant texts, and teacher training.

Country-Specific Focus Areas

Mindful that the aforementioned regional programs will also directly support democracy movements and democratization in every Asian country, we also commit ourselves to achieving the following goals specific to each situation.


Bangladesh faces the following challenges:

Strategic and practical issues of addressing democratic deficit in the constitution and the constitution making processes in order to integrate various international covenants and declaration related to human rights and democratic polity as well as institutional issues related to Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission, Human Rights Commission, etc.

Reversing the militarization and anti-constitutional processes that have been set by the events of January 11, 2007 and the consequent political pitfalls.

Engaging with development partners to review their perceptions, analysis and role in Bangladesh and the increasing gap with the democratic aspiration of the people.

Promoting stakeholders dialogue among political parties and popular organizations promoting human rights

Therefore, WFDA will:

Campaign against human rights violation and request the government to follow strict judicial process and rule of law in the trials of political leaders.

Campaign against extra-judicial killings and intensify observations and reporting to UN Human Rights Commission

Take initiative for a stakeholders dialogue involving human rights organizations, popular mass organizations, political parties, government, army, business communities, women’s organizations, local government representative and other state and non-state actors before the situation in Bangladesh becomes further polarised.

Initiate research on constitutional issues in order to address democratic deficits as well as appropriate processes to be undertaken to involve all sections of the population aspiring for democracy. Immediate focus will be strengthening the Election Commission, supporting an Independent Judiciary that can deliver justice, particularly to the poor and the disadvantaged, and strengthening anti-corruption mechanisms and institutions.


The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has seen some encouraging signs of movement toward democracy, despite a serious refugee issue that remains unresolved. In order to include Bhutan on the regional agenda, WFDA will:

Support efforts to implement a democratic constitution, and to hold genuinely free and fair elections.

Urge a just resolution of the situation of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, including allowing those who wish to return to do so. In the meantime their basic human rights should be respected and protected by the Nepali government.


Burma’s military regime, through its systematic human rights abuses and gross mismanagement continues to suppress the struggle for democracy and perpetuate conditions that threaten regional stability. Therefore, WFDA recommits itself to support the ongoing efforts of such networks as the Asia Pacific Peoples Partnership on Burma (APPPB) and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) to advocate for human rights and democracy in Burma. WFDA will work to:

Support ongoing campaigns to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as well as all other political prisoners, freedom for legitimate political parties to operate, particularly the National League for Democracy (NLD), and commencement of a substantive political dialogue with pro-democracy and ethnic nationality groups to achieve national reconciliation. In particular, WFDA will support initiatives to strengthen international commitment to the defense of human rights and democratization in Burma, including through the UN and the UN Security Council, ASEAN, and other international forums.

WFDA publicly rejects the SPDC's illegitimate "National Convention" and "Roadmap" process and supports the alternative roadmap proposed by 92 elected MPs on August 1 2007 that advocates for an inclusive and democratic constitution drafting process which includes the participation of all sections of Burma's diverse society, particularly ethnic nationality groups and all political parties that won parliamentary seats in the 1990 election.

Welcomes the resurgence of domestic activism and direct actions including greater involvement of the Buddhist clergy in the promotion of democracy in Burma.

The period from now until the general elections scheduled for July 2008 will be critical, as election-related repression of political opposition is anticipated to increase in the months leading up to the political exercise, while the government/ruling party is manipulating the voters’ list in order to predetermine the election result before voting day. Immediate support to the protection of democratic institutions and processes is therefore needed, and toward this goal, WFDA will:

Monitor the ongoing September-October 2007 voter registration process that is played with the political discrimination, administrative harassment and voter list manipulation leading to the disenfranchisement of significant portion of the electorate.

Send a regional delegation to meet with political parties, Election Commission officials, relevant parliamentary committees, and NGOs to ensure the continued safe and peaceful exercise of democratic freedoms in Cambodia.

Support and complement existing democracy education programs in the country through regional experience-sharing on such issues as independence of the judiciary, quasi-judicial election commissions, scrutiny of candidacy, and other topics relevant to the upcoming electoral exercise.

Urge all the signatories of the 1991 Paris Peace Accord, notably Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, to assume their responsibilities as signatories to draw the attention of the Cambodian government to its breach of the Paris Agreement by its human rights violations.

Support efforts to disseminate information on corruption in Cambodia by Asian and other donor governments as well as Asian corporations. Further, urge international lending organizations to ensure that the government follows practices of good governance and transparency.


The Chinese authorities’ anti-democratic policies and practices not only cause widespread human rights violations among the Chinese people, but also reinforce authoritarian regimes around the region. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support opportunities for the Chinese democratic movement to interact, share perspectives, and dialogue with regional counterparts, in order to build solidarity with other Asian democrats and amongst those affected by China’s support for dictatorships.

Develop forums for Chinese, Tibetan, and Uyghur democrats to develop mutual understanding and support.

Intensify support for campaigns on democracy and human rights in China in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This also includes using the opportunities provided by the Olympics to discourage China from continuing its support of repressive dictatorships in other parts of Asia and the world, in particular, Burma and North Korea. Campaigns could include targeting corporate sponsors, as well as suppliers, particularly of security-related technologies, and governments of the region.

Support efforts to develop not only the international Chinese democratic movement, but also the nascent civil society within China, through maximizing the opportunities presented by:

Academic exchanges, conferences, etc. to develop leadership training for public intellectuals, including members of diverse ethnicities as future seeds of change.

Using the internet and/or personal information contacts to transmit news and information.

Urge the European Union not to lift Tiananmen-related sanctions.

Urge governments, corporations, and international organizations to ensure that they do not contribute to human rights violations of human rights defenders in China.


Under the discrimination and assimilation policy of the PRC, the Uyghur are a minority group in their own land. Based on its support for the principal of self-determination for the Uyghur people, WFDA will:

6.1 Support campaigns and other efforts to promote awareness the right of Uyghur people to use peaceful non violent and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan.

6.2 Support campaigns and other efforts to promote awareness of the arbitrary arrest and execution of political and non political prisoners. Campaign for the release of Ms. Rebeya Kadeers’ two sons.

6.3 Support campaigns and other efforts to promote awareness to address the forceful transfer of young Uyghur women to the PRC

6.4 Support campaigns and other efforts to promote awareness of the assimilation of Uyghur culture, language and educational System by the PRC.


The struggle of the Hong Kong people for the rule of law and full democracy faces daunting challenges. Therefore, WFDA will work to:

Support the people's movement for equal and universal suffrage to elect its Chief Executive and Legislative Council and for other democratic reforms and constitutional reforms to guarantee democratic processes.

Defend the rule of law by publicizing objections to the arbitrary interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, as well as to the introduction of draconian national security laws.

Urge the HKSAR Government to establish a statutory human rights commission in accordance with the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions as soon as possible.

Press the authorities to respect and ensure the independence, credibility, and effectiveness of existing statutory watchdogs in Hong Kong, such as the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Privacy Commissioner, and the Ombudsman. Most importantly, ensure that the power to appoint chairpersons and members to such bodies should not be abused.

Urge the HKSAR to amend the Race Discrimination Bill to comply with international human rights standards.


Despite a wide-ranging process of reforms in recent years, notably successful national elections, decentralization, and the peace process in Aceh, Indonesia’s democracy is at risk of regression because of the high level of corruption, deficiency in rule of law, and the increasing religious fundamentalism. Therefore, WFDA will:

Promote the consolidation of the peace process in Aceh, and advocate for peaceful solution for conflicts in Papua and other parts of the country.

Provide support for efforts by civil society to fight corruption.

Continue supporting campaigns to promote press freedom and freedom of expression.

Help promote tolerance and pluralism as a measure to reduce religious extremism.


Repression in Laos has long been neglected by the international community. To raise the profile of Laos on the regional democratization agenda, WFDA will:

Call on multilateral and bilateral donors to systematically tie their financial aid to the performance by the government of the Lao PDR with regard to transparency and accountability, human rights policies and practices, and progress towards democratization.

Pressure the Lao PDR to give international media full access to information and facts relating to human rights and religious freedom. Further, explore the possibility of funding efforts of Lao democracy organizations based overseas to reach all segments of society through radio or television broadcasts and the internet, as well as print media.

Call for the immediate release of political prisoners including Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phengphanh, Bouavanh Chanhmanivong and Keochay (leaders of the Lao Students Movement for Democracy of the October 1999 demonstration); the 16 Vangtao border freedom fighters repatriated in contradiction of the Thai court decision; and Pangthon Chokbengboun (former Royal Lao government officials held in the Lao gulag since 1975).

Campaign to put political and economic pressure on the Lao PDR to comply with the call of the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the Lao People's Revolutionary Party to halt immediately all acts of violence against the Hmong population and other ethnic minorities and allow for immediate humanitarian assistance.

Send a delegation to the country to access the feasibility of laying the ground work for an emerging civil society and the government’s program on capacity-building for teachers to formulate curriculum compatible with universal human rights principles.


Though elections are regularly held in Malaysia, the electoral system is not free and fair. Fundamental rights, in particularly freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are severely curtailed. Its cultural diversity has all too often been manipulated into communal politics. Therefore, WFDA will:

10.1 Send high level mission to examine and observe before and during the next general election in order to ensure a clean, free and fair election.

10.2 Support campaigns for the reform of the police, the repeal of the Internal Security Act and the disbandment of civilian vigilante group, the RELA.

10.3 Send missions to observe politically motivated trials.

10.4 Provide support to initiatives on media freedoms and a legislation for freedom of information.

10.5 Support campaigns on the protection of economic, social and cultural rights in Malaysia, in particular

- on international trade agreements

- cultural rights and religious freedoms

- rights and self determination of indigenous peoples


Democracy has developed rapidly in Mongolia, but remains challenged by weak institutions, corruption, and spreading poverty as in many other countries in Asia. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support democracy education as a part of WFDA’s regional activities. This will include support for Mongolia’s on-going survey on “Democratic Governance Indicator: Assessing the State of Governance” and Civil Society Indicators titled “The State of Civil Society in Mongolia”

Support free and fair elections through voters’ education and international monitoring.

Support the passage of a freedom of information law, which will ensure greater governmental transparency and accountability of the government and more effective campaigns against corruption, poverty and human rights abuses.

Support freedom of expression and strengthening of the independent media through regional workshops to promote closer cooperation between civil society and media, and facilitate dialogue between politicians and media professionals on legal, political and economic issues.


Nepal suffered a serious reversal of democratization in 2005, with the resumption of absolute power by the King, suspension of the Constitution and Parliament, and extensive human rights violations. However, the country has since embarked on a two-fold transition, marked by the April 2006 “people power” movement which ended the King’s rule and the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord between the “Seven Party Alliance” and the Maoist rebels, which aims to end the long-running civil war. The country is now moving to establish a democratic republic of Nepal that would realize the rule of law, human rights and a just peace, through Constituent Assembly elections scheduled at the end of 2007 and drafting and adoption of a new constitution by 2009. Therefore, WFDA will:

Send a high-level fact finding mission to raise international understanding of the real situation of the country and develop a short-term strategy for effective intervention.

Continue to engage with and encourage all political parties to work more proactively towards democratization and to ensure effective internal democracy.

Strengthen cooperation and coordination of civil society, media, human rights organizations, and other stakeholders to promote inclusive democratization and a just peace process in the country.

Keep engaging with the UN bodies in Nepal, including the OHCHR-Nepal, the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and other agencies, along with the UN Treaty and Charter-based human rights mechanisms at Geneva, New York and other places of the world for the promotion of human rights, democracy and peace in Nepal.

Keep calling on the Nepal Government to fulfill its obligations under the international human rights treaties to which it is a state party, and urge for ratification of major international human rights and humanitarian laws treaties.

Monitoring of the elections to the Constituent Assembly before, during and aftermath of November 2007.

Lobbying/advocating at the regional and international level for a more inclusive democratization and just peace process keeping the victims of conflict and marginalized and disadvantaged people's agenda at the top most priority.

Contributing to the constitution-making process by providing experts' advises and conducting interactions/workshops in and outside Nepal with concerned stakeholders.

Conducting an expert visit to Nepal to share experiences and practices of Asia and other regions regarding transitional justice mechanisms.

Supporting publication of key documents related to democratization and sustainable peace.

Carrying out activities for capacity building of leaders of political parties and members of civil society and human rights organizations in the subject matters of democratization and peace making.


The human rights situation in North Korea is worrisome and needs the full attention of the international community, especially in the Asian region. In particular, there are serious concerns over the refugee situation and the very large number of political prisoners. Therefore, WFDA will:

Encourage the development of regional and international civil society networks concerned with North Korean human rights in cooperation with South Korean civil society.

Support efforts by civil society and governments to facilitate the exchange of information and views between the peoples inside and outside North Korea, through visit programs, radio and other media, etc.

Call on concerned governments to uphold their obligations to North Korean asylum seekers under international refugee law, and to allow for international NGOs’ access to North Korean refugees.

Urge donor governments and international organizations to ensure that humanitarian aid be delivered in a transparent, accountable, and fair manner.


Pakistan has continuously alternated between civilian and military government, and as a result has failed to develop strong roots and sustainable legitimacy. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support political party reform, especially developing internal party democracy and monitoring their functions, such as their manifestos, membership lists, financial accountability, etc. International assistance could be provided to the process of amending the Political Parties Act and other relevant legislation. Training programs for party workers at central and local levels should likewise be expanded and upgraded.

Provide accurate and up to date information on existing and emerging conditions to all relevant international, regional, and governmental organizations.

Recognizing the interconnection between political reform and social and economic structures, support and encourage domestic campaigns for land reforms in order to reduce political and economic monopoly of the landed elite and thereby alleviate poverty and powerlessness of the rural population.

Support a level playing field for all political parties and candidates and to hold free, fair and transparent elections, further to respect the results of such elections.


With entrenched inequality and continuous human rights violations, the Philippines is experiencing a grave political crisis, and the risk of further instability, and even reversal, of Philippine democracy is significant. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support ongoing civic education efforts, especially in the fields of human rights, citizen and voter education, democracy promotion, and the rule of law.

Engage the Philippine government and generate international pressure to bear on cases of human rights violations, government corruption and abuse, and suppression of civil freedoms, as well as issues of political and electoral reform, particularly reform of the electoral administration to ensure credible free and fair elections.

Support peaceful resolution of internal conflicts, especially in Mindanao, through the rejection of foreign military presence and the active engagement of civil society.

Support initiatives to create mechanisms enabling full participation of all sectors of society in democratic governance.

Urge governments hosting overseas Filipinos to allow for political participation of overseas Filipinos in their jurisdictions.

Help facilitate discussions among WFDA participants from the Philippines on the threats to democracy in the country.


Singapore is behind Asia’s democratic learning curve, persistently suppressing legitimate political opposition and controlling the media. Its combination of wealth and authoritarianism poses a unique challenge to Asian democrats. The use of defamation lawsuits to bankrupt opposition leaders and the judiciary’s lack of independence in political cases are emblematic of the regime’s tactics. Therefore, WFDA will:

Organize a high-level delegation, including legislators and government officials, to visit Singapore to conduct a dialogue with the government on human rights.

Promote the full independence of the judiciary, through measures such as missions to observe politically motivated trials.

Send and encourage democracy and human rights groups to attend a parallel meeting of the International Bar Association, which will be held in October 2007, which will highlight the serious deficiencies in the rule of law in Singapore.


Sri Lanka’s civil war continues, despite a ceasefire agreement reached in 2002. A significant electoral reform was also proposed in 2006, but the country still suffers barriers to democratic consolidation, including political and electoral violence, and abuse of executive powers. Therefore, WFDA will:

Build solidarity for those civil society groups promoting a lasting settlement of the civil war.

Expose the abuse of power by the executive presidency.

Raise awareness of political and electoral violence, killings, and abductions.

Strengthen mechanisms that protect human rights and support missions to monitor abductions, disappearances and/or killings.

Engage in initiatives to ensure that the fourth coming local government and provincial elections are free and fair, including participation in and support for independent election monitoring.

Urge the government of Sri Lanka to maintain the rule of law and an independent judiciary.

Support efforts to strengthen women’s participation in politics and urge the government to change the election laws accordingly.


The military coup of 19 September 2006 was a major setback for democratization throughout the region. Restoration of a legitimate civilian government, elected through free and fair elections, is a priority. Meanwhile, the situation in the South remains unresolved and dangerous. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support grassroots efforts to educate the public about democratic values, institutions and practices, in order to prevent the recurrence of military coups.

Engage in initiatives to ensure that the elections of 23 December 2007 are free and fair, including participation in and support for independent election monitoring.

Strengthen mechanisms and institutions to protect human rights defenders. Support the work of human rights defenders including lawyers working to help victims of abuse and violence.

Support efforts to maintain rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and oppose repressive laws, particularly in the lead up to the upcoming election, and after the election.

Encourage peaceful resolution of conflict in the South. This may include advocating for the adoption of new, people-centered strategies that also involve the participation of civil society and governments in the region, and visits from international fact-finding teams.

Urge the government to uphold the human rights of its indigenous people including their right to citizenship, and the human rights of asylum-seekers and migrants from Burma.


Under the PRC occupation, Tibetans are a minority in their own land. Currently, after six visits to China by envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, dialogues have now reached a critical stage. Based on its support for the principle of self-determination for the Tibetan people, WFDA will:

Support campaigns and other efforts to promote awareness of the “middle way” approach and the Five Point Peace Plan proposed by the Dalai Lama among other Asian countries, in order to urge these countries to press for tangible results from the dialogue process.

Assist a wider variety of Tibetan organizations, including civil society groups as well as the institutions of the Government-in-exile, to build more regional linkages and participate more actively in regional networks. WFDA can provide contacts and logistical support for a series of visits by Tibetan activists to countries around the region.

Campaign for the release of Tenzin Delek, the Panchen Lama, and other political prisoners of conscience.


Asia's newest nation faces many challenges of consolidation, which flared up in a serious crisis in 2006 which shook the foundations of the state. A successful series of elections has restored constitutional rule, but the underlying political tensions remain, and the political and social institutions remain generally weak. Therefore, WFDA will:

Urge the need for peaceful competition between the government and opposition, within the constitutional framework.

Support capacity building of both civil society and political entities.

Support the development of community media, and alternative media that is accessible to poor people.

Sustain the campaign for justice to end the impunity of perpetrators of crimes.

Assist the documentation and dissemination of lessons from Timor-Leste's experience.

Encourage greater involvement of youth in civic activities.

Support the development of pro-poor economic activities.

Encourage good governance within the justice and security sector


The recent economic development of Vietnam has not translated into an improvement of its human rights and democratic record. Therefore, WFDA will:

Support campaigns for the immediate and unconditional release of Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do, and over 350 Montagnard prisoners of conscience, as well as all other political prisoners detained for peaceful advocacy of democracy and human rights.

Support initiatives for the implementation of the "Appeal for Democracy in Vietnam" launched by Thich Quang Do. This 8-point transition plan could be a rallying-point for Vietnamese from different political and religious affiliations to work together for democratic change and particularly freedom of the press and opinion.

Continue to campaign, on a regional basis, for the abrogation of legislation that restricts freedoms, notably Ordinance 44 on "administrative detention" which allows for detention without trial and the internment of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.

A "White Paper on Legal Reforms" could be published to inform donors and governments to ensure that legal reforms in Vietnam, as well as Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc., conform with international human rights standards.

Launch a campaign to support the action of Venerable Thich Quang Do for the “Victims of Injustice” – the movement of farmers protesting against state confiscation of lands. This campaign could help protect Thich Quang Do from imminent arrest, and also press Vietnam to seek solutions for the abused rural populations.

Campaign for international access to Montagnard areas by monitoring teams to address human rights concerns facing the Montagnard peoples, to resolve the issues of religious persecution of Montagnard Christian House Churches and the abuse of their indigenous land rights.

WFDA Organizational Development

In order to meet these goals, WFDA needs to strengthen its own functioning, building on its development to date and in keeping with its nature as a collaborative network. Therefore, WFDA will:

Invite more regional organizations to join the Steering Committee, particularly with a view to further strengthening representation from South Asia and Northeast Asia.

Hold Steering Committee meetings at regular intervals, where possible coinciding with regional or international events sponsored or supported by WFDA.

Encourage and facilitate the development Youth Caucus and women’s forum within WFDA.

Have a plenary on women’s political participation at the Third Biennial Conference, which will also include men as panelists and participants.

Hold the third Biennial Conference in late summer 2009.

12-01-13, 15:00
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