AEPF emerged in the mid 1990s from a common desire and need among people’s organisations and networks across Asia and Europe to open up new venues for dialogue, cooperation and solidarity.

The first AEPF interregional conference was organised in 1996 on the occasion of the first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Bangkok. Since then People’s Forums have been held biennially as an Alternative Summit to the ASEM. ASEM is the official meeting between heads of state of the European Union and 16 Asian countries.1 Succeeding People’s Forums were held in London (1998), Korea (2000), Denmark (2002), Vietnam (2004), Finland (2006), China (2008), Belgium (2010), Laos (2012) and Italy (2014). The AEPF network has expanded over the years and has mobilised new organisations and movements from the AEPF host countries.

From its beginnings, the AEPF has provided a space for social actors in each region to:

  • strengthen network building at the national and regional levels in order to undertake cross-regional initiatives and campaigns;
  • analyse issues of common interest such as security, development, and neo-liberal globalisation and their implications for the peoples in each region so as to come up with visions and strategies
  • for alternative futures; and
  • provide people’s organizations and networks with a channel for critical engagement with the institutions and policies of ASEM member countries.

In 1998, hundreds of people’s organisations and networks across Asia and Europe endorsed the “People’s Vision Towards a More Just, Equal and Sustainable World,” which was later revised and reaffirmed at the ASEM 2000 People’s Forum in Seoul, South Korea. In December 2005, the AEPF Charter of Principles was adopted.

 

Who are we and what are our objectives?

 

The purpose of this bi-regional network between organisations and movements from Asia and Europe is to contribute to a world based on the concepts of peace, participatory democracy, social justice, human rights, food sovereignty, sustainability and people’s rights to self-determination. The AEPF is a space to link struggles and visions on alternatives from both regions.

The formation of the bi-regional network opens a new chapter in people to people relations between civil society organizations in Asia and Europe. Social actors from both regions recognize the growing significance of inter-governmental relations between Asia and Europe and the necessity to develop new political and organizational responses.

 

The AEPF advocates a positive agenda of joint proposals and demands that enable us to influence policy on EU-Asia relations at the ASEM government and EU level. The AEPF also facilitates strategies and action as civil society on a variety of issues concerning both regions. 

Key initiatives of AEPF

A People’s Forum, which is an Alternative Summit to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), is held every other year. The biennial forums in the past years have given priority to issues under the following themes:

  • Participatory democracy and human rights
  • Peace and security
  • Social and economic rights
  • Environmental justice

The People’s Forums, held in parallel to the official ASEM Summits, is neither the beginning nor the end of the network’s activities and agenda. These alternative forums that highlight ‘the people’ in Asia-Europe relations provide opportunities for the exploration of shared interests for common action, as well as the consolidation of the network’s endeavours. The AEPF also carries out campaigns directed at respective national governments and constituencies of AEPF member organizations, and oriented towards the auxiliary role played by regional, interregional, and global organisations.

 

 

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1ASEM started with 15 EU member states, the European Commission, and 10 Asian countries (7 ASEAN, China, Korea and Japan). ASEM has recently incorporated new EU member states as well as the Asian countries of Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. 

 

 

 

 

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