Summary: Information / Discussion
The Role of Civil Society Organizations in Asia
||17 July 2002, 19:30-21:00
Moderator(s):|| • Mr. Arjun Karki, Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)|
Presenters/ Participants:|| • Mr. Daniel Alexander, Institute for Integrated Rural Development (India) (IIRD)|
• Mr. Takehiko Uemura, Network Earth Village
• Prof. Huang Mab, Chang Fo-Chuan Center for the Study of Human Rights, Scoochow University, Taipei, Taiwan
• Mr. Traore Wodjo Fini, African Union Club of Côte d'Ivoire
||Zhenying Wu (ICVolunteers)
||Asia, human rights, Taiwan
In this two-hour session, the panelists presented case studies of NGO work in Taiwan and Japan and discussed future strategies and
The following debate on how to nominate representatives for Asia to the WCS Forum then yielded interesting thoughts about how civil society can operate efficiently, while remaining transparent and democratic.
Civil society organisations in Taiwan
The first section of the meeting consisted of presentations by Dr. Mab Huang, Mr. Takehiko Uemura and Mr. Daniel
Dr. Mab Huang, Ph.D, Professor of political science & Director of Chang Fo-Chuan Center for the Study of Human
Rights (Taiwan) talked about the emergence of civil societies in Taiwan since the middle of the 80s, their present situation, and the challenges they are still facing in various forms, like obstruction by bureaucracy, lack of autonomous sources of funding and a somewhat uneasy relationship with the
Mr. Takehiko Uemura of the Network Earth Village (Japan) then presented data on the environmental situation in present-day Japan. He showed how rapid economical growth in his country conducted the consumption of energy and resources to outstrip by far the domestically available production. Co2, dioxin and incinerated garbage quantities generated per capita are also among the highest in the world. The Japanese
Government has tried so far to downplay the situation and Mr. Uemura described what his organisation, Network Earth Village, and other NGOs are doing to influence
Mr. Daniel Alexander of the Institute for Integrated Rural Development
(India) listed as the main issues for Asian NGOs today the reducing of poverty, pollution, and bringing peace to the region. He
explained how the WCS Forum and its operating model are still in the process of taking shape, and called all participants to share their input and work towards an action plan to deal with their common
Nomination of four WCS Forum Representatives from Asia
The second object of the meeting was to nominate four representatives for the WCS Forum Coordinating Council. These should each represent an organisation or network and come from a pre-determined region (one representative each for east/south/central Asia, one for Pacific).
This topic brought up some heated debate, of which the main issues were the following:
- There are few Asian participants in civil society forums in general and in Geneva in particular.
- One of the objectives of the WCS Forum is to focus on cooperation between NGOs and
UN. It is this particular aim that distinguishes it from the World Social Forum in Porto
Allegre. However, some NGOs reject working with the UN altogether and thus are not present in Geneva.
- Information about the holding of this Forum did not reach all NGOs.
- Representation can only be achieved by taking a bottom-top approach, with networks first established at national or regional levels. On the other hand, people have come a long way to this
- If representatives are nonetheless designated by those present in Geneva, what will their legitimacy be in the eyes of organisations not present?
- Prof. Huang explained that legitimacy is a very common problem in similar cases, and that it will probably resolve itself: if the work of the committee is viewed as positive, it will gain legitimacy, else it will fail
It was decided by consensus that the wording was not appropriate, and “focal person” should be used instead of "representative”. Mr. Arjun Karki also clarified the roles of the focal persons
who's role it is to facilitate the work of the Forum, act as coordinator for a region and be present for meeting several times annually in
Geneva. Mr. Karki further explained that these functions were fulfilled until now by himself, Mr. Alexander and Mr.
Various persons were nominated for each region, but it was decided that discussions
were going to be pursued the following day in the plenary session.
Some participants requested that before examining the question of representation the participants first needed to determine if they wished the continuation of the
Forum (or their continued participation in the Forum). Consensus was reached that it should
Also, the division of the region into southern, central, eastern, and pacific regions was questioned by some participants, who wondered whether this subdivision reflected the actual situation in Asia or the image westerners have of Asia.
here for all available presenters' documents
here for all available summaries
read about the summaries