Sustainable Development
Asia-Europe People�s Forum focuses discussion on human security
Along with trade and investment issues, human security is also high on the agenda of the 5th ASEM People's Forum (AEPF), said Andy Rutherford of the United Kingdom-based One World Action, a member of the AEPF International Organising Committee.

He granted an interview to the Viet Nam News Agency at the forum.
Q. What do you think about the theme of this AEPF?
A:
We�ve been working very closely with the National Organising Committee over the last year. There has been, up until now, a great co-operation. We have been sharing the principles and ideas we want to discuss. We are now looking to work out the specifics for organising what will be the most successful and largest Asia-Europe meeting ever.
The forum focuses on two main areas: trade and investment as well as global security. Over the last few years, this has focused on war and the war against terrorism. We strongly feel that another focus has to be on �human security.�
Q. What are contributions of the AEPF to the ASEM process?
A:
The ASEM process has been focusing on strengthening and developing trade and investment. That has been a main topic for official discussions at the ASEM since 1996. The AEPF has said that trade and investment must always have a stronger social dimension. We have shared our concern that our focus on trade and investment has neglected some social and environmental concerns, for instance the rights of workers and women. So, we have tried to pull discussions back to the agreement that governments have already made, for example at the Social Development Forum of the UN in Copenhagen. We are calling on the governments of ASEM to focus on the things they have agreed and ensure the rights of people.
Many of us have been working for peace and justice all our lives, some of which has been focused on Viet Nam and its struggle for independence. Now, we have extended those activities to similar struggles for peace, justice, equality and rights all over the world.
We see the hosting of the Asia-Europe People�s Forum as a great way to strengthen ties and share experiences between people�s organisations. We need to stress issues related to the environment, women�s rights, worker�s rights and people�s expressions. Everyday, we are looking for creative and innovative ways to increase these rights. We are looking forward to meeting with Vietnamese people�s organisations and to their discussions with us.
Q. What do you think about the lawsuit filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the US companies that had produced the chemical used by US troops during the war in Viet Nam?
A:
We were involved in the World Social Forum 2004 in Mumbai, India, where one of the most successful workshops which brought together people from all over the world was held to discuss this specific topic. We believe that discussions here will support this cause
 

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