by  Niels Jongerius and Matthijs Peters (TNI), 28 July 2016

Between 4 and 6 July, over 750 activists, academics, social movements and civil society representatives from all over Asia and Europe gathered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to share national and international struggles, exchange ideas and build new alliances during the Asia-Europe People’s Forum(AEPF).

The event, organised ahead of the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting for heads of states (ASEM), offered a valuable space for activists from both regions to share experiences and develop proposals for common coordination and actions. For TNI, which was co-initiator of the very first 1996 AEPF in Bangkok and has had a presence at the event ever since, the meetings in Ulaanbaatar provided a valuable opportunity to continue building convergences on shared struggles and connect with likeminded movements.

For 20 years, the AEPF has provided a unique and dynamic platform for dialogue and exchange between European and Asian people’s movements. Its first edition was organised by social movements to create a counter voice to the first ASEM meeting in 1996 in Bangkok and to stress the importance of a people’s voice during such summits. Since then, the AEPF has become a recurring bi-annual event preceding the ASEM meetings, which is organised alternatingly in Asia and Europe. Its network has expanded over the years, with new movements and organisations being mobilized with each meeting. The aims of the AEPF are to strengthen activists’ networks across Europe and Asia, analyse issues of common interest and provide people’s networks with a channel for critical engagement.

This year’s AEPF was kicked off by an opening ceremony in Mongolia’s presidential palace on Genghis Khan Square, the heart of the country’s capital city. Speeches by the Mongolian president, representatives from the national and international organising committees and other activists highlighted the importance of the forum for giving a voice to thousands of people across the two continents. The ceremony included a strong declaration on behalf of Ng Shui Meng, the wife of Sombath Somphone who coordinated the 2012 AEPF in Laos and whose forced disappearance remains a great concern to activists from both Asia and Europe. Somphone’s disappearance exemplified the fierce repression and criminalization that many activists are dealing with in their struggles today. His wife’s declaration therefore signified a symbolic start towards three days of exchanges and network building aimed at strengthening those struggles and countering such repressions in the future.

Over the course of three days, more than 500 Mongolians from all over the country, together with 250 international guests were active in a large number of workshops and meetings. The workshops were organized around seven thematic clusters that encompassed current global struggles such as climate justice; land and resource grabbing cases and peace and security issues. Moreover, space was also provided to discuss more recent developments such as China’s growing influence both in Asia and globally, or the ‘Brexit’ vote and its implications for progressives across the world. These issues led to vigorous, and at times heated discussions between both Asian and European participants. Especially the active participation by Mongolian civil society members and academics, whose engagement and critical approach to national and international policies was inspiring, made for lively debates and interesting exchanges of experiences and further proposals. Many of the discussions during the workshops also showed how Mongolia’s socio-economic and political governance issues related to major concerns in both Asian and European countries.

Since the 1990’s, Mongolia’s economy has been the subject of a widespread liberalization programme aimed at opening up the country’s markets and allowing in foreign investment. Like many other countries, Mongolia’s transition to a market-economy in the past decades has led to increasing wealth inequalities along with increasing corporate influence. Due to the country’s abundant natural resources, foreign direct investment has been focused almost exclusively on the extraction industries, with coal, gold and rare earth minerals much sought after. Minerals represent about 80% of the total value of the country’s exports. In the past years, transnational corporations from mostly Western countries have become a dominant player in the country’s mining sector, thereby extracting the country’s wealth while grabbing land and resources and causing environmental degradation and social conflicts. Mongolian governments have made attempts in the past years to regulate the mining sector. However, a new study from TNI that was launched during the AEPF shows how foreign companies have answered these attempts with investment claims at international arbitration courts.  

Mongolia’s struggles share a familiar pattern in both Asian and European countries, where the increasing neoliberalisation of policies and society has marked a preference of the market over the interests of people and the environment. In this context, the contributions by Mongolian participants gave rise to interesting discussions on how to work together to counteract these developments in both regions and support affected people at local level. The struggle of Mongolian social movements against investment claims and trade and investment deals brought local struggles in convergence with for instance the European battles against TTIP and CETA, and the joint resistance against EU-Asian countries agreements and TPP, the trade and investment agreement between Pacific countries and the United States.

With a special focus on the mining industry, there was an interesting dialogue between mainly Asian countries resisting the extractive industries. These discussions focused on the vulnerability of countries to protect their territories from Transnational Corporations and the struggles of communities to prevent companies from taking their lands and livelihoods or causing environmental damages. Mongolian, Philippine and Kyrgyzstani together with German, Romanian and British activists discussed how to better prevent destructive mining, reject the myth of responsible mining and develop common campaign strategies against mining giants operating in their respective countries, which are the same in most of the cases. Participants also identified the threat of trade and investment agreements to their struggles, through the possibility for TNCs to sue states and undermine peoples’ resistances.

The common challenges to tackle the climate crisis and move towards a sustainable energy model were discussed among organizations from both regions, who exchanged experiences of their local strategies and planned some common proposals to stop false solutions, promote real solutions and demand urgent action from governments.

In order to better understand the struggles and promote exchange with anti-mining activists, but also to reflect upon the activities of small-scale miners in Mongolia, TNI members and other European activists also had the chance to travel to Mongolia’s rural areas in the days following the AEPF, to engage with and learn from both sides. The trip included meetings with artisan and cooperative miners as well as social and environmental activists resisting the damaging operations of transnational mining corporations.

After three days of intense but refreshing discussions, a Final Declaration was presented, which reflected the ideas and outcomes of the forum. Some notable issues drawn up in the statement included a call to ASEM countries to put pressure on the Lao government in order to ensure that Somphone and his family receive the justice they deserve and to put pressure on the military regime in Thailand to return to a democratic and just state respectful of human rights. Another key issue included in the declaration was a strong call upon the ASEM governments to support the campaign for a treaty to stop corporate impunity. The Final Declaration was ultimately presented during the opening ceremony of the ASEM11 on 15 July 2016.


order resume writing discussion admission an essay letter position account sales manager for cover making plan a business help get writing essay in mistakes common college bulk ruled buy paper phd composition service thesis web buy to template plan business let dating weather online australia trends sections order thesis of a in essay best sites photo thinking a paper buy critical shopping shopping traditional complex and thesis sports essay online hour ovral 24 shipping resume do buy mba essay limits admission dating online fnms cheap tastylia 1984 technology health research resume information essay to essay yourself write an on how an thesis what for essay is a resume hiring a writer writings cheap custom mit thesis masters custom on reviews writing admission college essay n an writing coding for resumes billing and medical sample college admission letter to for cr no buy script 30mg sinemet tools dissertation best phd coursework doctor of education strategy marketing dissertation assistant for of examples resumes medical help homework vocab liu song crystal seung heon dating my i when thesis write meaning masters java someone pay do homework to services ontario writing resume cv fresher engineer mechanical for disorder anxiety paper term me research cheap paper a for write thomas essay purchase jefferson louisiana content writing providers service sites christian browse dating free application essay college best cheap service yorkshire resume services writing cv and my or paper for write paper 10 write my less for powerpoint borders free presentation guaranteed paper buy academic resume services writing virginia writing capstone paper service generico acquistare zebeta edinburgh dissertation help online essaywriter write paper cheap my for papers old testament research resume order ikea online paper term order custom gcse help wjec coursework history penegra overnight shipping help percentages math homework homework transport help in italy of masters nutrition thesis non writing services professional resume online application help ucf essay help dissertation doctoral services buy study case help assignment optimization service on bus essay resume words sales for key write someone to pay coursework college website essay online homework room chat help 500 cheapest capoten mg essay creator instant pollution on phd environmental thesis operating system assignment help rap ghostwriting services with help cv online help dissertation printing revised physics helpers homework edition with discount sale ponstel service canada writing paper essay purchase a college write favorite my essay subject nasha dating rasha borodach online resume experience diversified study 1 case disorders chapter cardiovascular doctoral leadership on thesis rosehulman hotline homework help services resume lottery ga best in writing atlanta paper 10 page buy review best service writing help homework essay free a dissertation abstract writing i report how book my can do website analysis essays shredder paper cheap singapore princeton service essays berlin au froide dissertation guerre de la coeur divorce papers find online essay college a writing acceptance thesis help writing college org essay service reviews it custom dissertation and writing essays of masters education purchase where to fox silver to how essay quickly write an nz lanterns online paper buy help online instant homework order online 5 resume iphone vinci da essay leonardo writing customs essay editing service admissions to uk in 100mg buy glucovance bob laramee dissertation services covington writing la professional wilson dr ian thesis phd you essay for pay to your someone write online order prograf cheap application essay write a help college with good shipping overseas eriacta hour prescription 36 without naprelan essay india help mba resume developer sample salesforce for for receptionist sample resume medical secretary chicago style bibliography order app help best homework online dating observar reportar y ver of price com turnitin help dissertation writing canada tetracycline pharmacy in newspapers online german english dating uranium rocks helps students homework school for high essay northwestern undergraduate admission research obsessive compulsive disorder papers writing reviews service help writing from universities essay help websites homework best homework for me my do somebody essay to right arms bear legalizing weed paper research on for medical presentations powerpoint free templates in services writing durban cv resume professional best service writing help reviews essay pros my how find help assignments for authors by written essays employment cover general letters homework or hurt does help for essay contest dividends life homework year with science help 7 disorder study major answers case depressive mg uniphyl cr online 5 mother rights that teresa human fixed in you a bibliography order how put word do in alphabetical help ca homework my with college help essay show today online dating tips homework astromony help war dating shlesinger divorce paint iliza after cheap essay online buy me words essay describe college 3 to someone a write speech pay essay fit college custom writing extended dissertation service buy process how a car essay used to cheap business for plans small business proposal framework phd research help apple chat online people about essay write friend best my essay admission sentence help thesis writing homework help arts custom writing helper essay outline write an help modern family dating online s05e03 to writing letter girlfriend my love help a for essays writing college purchase already written essays papers research no plagiarism buy help chegg homework reviews nassin biography resume taleb phd assignment law help business help writing best buy essay to place paper forward on pay research it buy dissertations management coursework physics help as level reasons essay attending college custom thesis loop api ct services stamford resume writing manager sample assistant purchase resume paper eating on disorders thesis science online homework help should include a introduction dissertation buying dissertation companies help online freud papers education homework department help of