HA NOI — The 6th ASEAN People’s Forum (APF-6) wrapped up yesterday with a joint statement pledging to support the ASEAN Charter and the building of an ASEAN community.

The joint statement, reached after six plenary meetings and 16 workshops, recommended ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) effectively implement co-operative mechanisms and agreements to sustain peace and security, prevent conflicts and settle disputes peacefully.

Under the presence of the new liberalism, ASEAN economic integration and co-operation should avoid competitiveness to focus on mutual assistance based on the principles of solidarity, equality and environment sustainability, the statement said.

It also emphasised that ASEAN needed to develop social and cultural policies and respect and protect human rights – particularly women’s, children’s, ethnic minorities’ and the disabled.

The statement for the first time referred to Agent Orange, said Tran Dac Loi, vice standing president of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations and head of the APF-6 organisation board.

Speaking at the close, Loi said APF-6 was the chance for ASEAN people to further understand each other and build new networks for peace, friendship and development in the region.

The forum also helped to promote the voice and participation of people from the community, including youth, women, children, farmers, fishermen and the disabled.

Participants agreed that the organisation of specific workshops had facilitated the sharing of information and experience.

At the closing ceremony, Viet Nam officially passed the chairmanship of the next APF to Indonesia.

As the host of APF-7, Indonesia would learn from Viet Nam’s experience to organise a similar event next year, said Mida Saragih, the representative of Indonesian civil society organisations.

Yesterday, the forum discussed integration and ASEAN co-operation to build a stronger community.

On Saturday, APF-6 discussed a whole range of issues including climate change, children’s rights, agriculture and rural development, natural resources, energy and water, poverty reduction and social security, challenges facing regional fishermen, the international financial system, improved understanding and action for an equal development of ethnic minority groups and indigenous people in ASEAN, and opportunities and challenges in changing the role of ASEAN women. — VNS