BAKU, Azerbaijan—Conflicts and poverty continue to stalk Asia—the largest and most populous continent—but Asian political parties remain hopeful of the future, with the Philippines and Burma (Myanmar) providing some of the bright spots.
At the close of the 7th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (Icapp) in this picturesque city by the Caspian Sea, some 60 political parties from 52 Asian nations acknowledged the slow grind of peace and reconciliation in parts of the region.
They pledged to work for peace and development under the principle of “interfaith harmony and political pluralism,” said the Baku Declaration adopted by the plenary on Friday.
The assembly resolved to institutionalize the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC) pushed by former Philippine Congress Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Icapp founder and cochairman of its standing committee.
The APRC was created in Bangkok last year to assist and advise governments in resolving conflicts in the region.
Icapp also pledged to establish an Asian antipoverty and microfinancing fund.
The Baku Declaration, read by Pakistani Sen. Mushahid Hussain Sayed, seeks to enlarge “the objective area of the proposed fund into a Global Antipoverty Fund following consultations with our intraregional political partners in Latin America and the Caribbean…and with political parties in Africa.”
Grounds for optimism
The declaration noted the “positive signals emanating from one of the most turbulent regions in Asia which has seen recurring violence.”
Icapp welcomed the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China last week, which led to “the political transition to a fifth-generation leadership that reflects success in building a peaceful, prosperous and stable society.”
Turning to the Philippines, Icapp applauded the signing on Oct. 15 of a framework agreement that should end the Moro rebellion in Mindanao. It recognized Burma’s political reforms as well.
“Peace and reconciliation as laudable goals of successful state policy are evident in the historic signing of the framework peace accord in the Philippines, thanks to the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, leading to a final settlement of a decades-long conflict between the central authority in Manila and the Muslim fighters in the south,” it said.
“And this spirit is reflected also in the historic change in Myanmar (Burma) with an opening up to the outside world,” it added.
The assembly also supported the position of the Philippines and Vietnam to resolve territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) “based on the accepted principles of international law and the UN Charter, rather than resorting to the threat or use of force. Political differences in such territorial disputes must not become impediments to normal economic and cultural interaction, based on mutual benefit.”
From its founding in Manila 12 years ago, Icapp now counts as members 318 parties, both ruling and in the opposition, in 52 Asian countries.
“Icapp today embodies the Asian spirit of resilience evident in the dynamism and can-do vibrance of our societies, surmounting crises and overcoming economic difficulties with creativity and innovation,” read the four-page declaration.