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.

TNI

find help homework teacher have your essay written for you michigan 7 day cancer cure 1311 36 hour ticlid buy buy sociology papers delco homework help edit paper online custom essay writing how to write perfect resume legalizing marijuana for medical purposes essay buy an essay 1 person somna-ritz for humans for sale police essay writing help buy cheap zyrtec online critical evaluation essay help birth control pills history of my maths homework help cardura e10 hexion altace generic release date buy Cialis Soft generic write my paper co best buy resume application form safe buy aquanorm no prescription generic Strattera buy online 2.5 mg ditropan online best non plagiarized essay sites essays in genetics for purchase 30 mg orlistat from canada online rise to rebellion jeff shaara homework help toilet paper cheaper at costco Generic Cialis Black no description needed brand Generic Cialis Black online - Quinte West i want someone to write my research paper cancer and chick peas personal essay for medical school application cheap lithobid for sale without a prescription resume for purchase assistant medrol without rx or shipping signer essay writing service no plagiarism white house internship essay help cv samples for mechanical engineers 24 hour shipping prozac brand fosamax meds from india essay service cheap help with ged essay homework help centre woodstock ontario uc personal statement prompt 2 sports kamagra gold mail order vitamin b1 rda resume writing services seattle buy and sell thesis commercial law essay help buy essay online uk nolvadex trusted pharmecies homework helpers manalapan nj monopril no prescription uk apple 630 laserwriter legal paper tray rock band baseball caps mri in seizure disorder a pictorial essay time order in essay chegg homework help my questions thesis documentation for ordering system homework help with direct cube variation sell extra super avana cheap no script what should i do my personal essay on buy cheap tetracycline cheap no rx texas history homework help synthroid dosage strengths available essays editing service 150mg lasuna buy glucotrol online reviews purchase a dissertation discussion student writers research paper assistance brand name aquanorm cheap essay writing services best resume writing services chicago 10 write my essays pay someone to do my dissertation 10 mg combivent for sale pennsylvania pa essay order requirement digraph new world order essay an essay on orderliness mba statement of interest university physics homework help suffolk homework help writing essays services essays written by nikki giovanni how do i write my college application essay buy super p-force online pharmacy do write my performance evaluation do my homework for me for free write a paragraph for me best essay help discount code there vaccine herpes simplex 1 resume writing services madison wisconsin 2.5 mg persantine online cheap dissertation writing resume article writing site what to write in a college scholarship essay order doctoral dissertations 1 to 3 days delivery time for fludac adalat sony tv episode 138 math homework help free online msd case study topics for mechatronics apa style reference doctoral dissertation professional essay editing services custom essays uk policy and procedure do my homework essay writing services economics help with building a resume thesis assignment writing persuasive essay of the death penalty english persuasive writing techniques the colonel essay elimite for sale cheap executive resume writing service dallas emergency help for high blood pressure live homework help fairfax essay helping homework help page any essay website 150 tentex forte write custom essay paper covering letter to apply for a job in the olympics edward scissorhands essay conclusion micardis no script meds only quality custom essays top thesis writing service 100mg effexor price prevacid and taking with prilosec buy evista online europe research paper help online what is outline in writing buy cheap articles online speech on value of books 247 online homework help uclan foundation degree health and social care assignments help if they give you a lined paper writer gm rally wheel caps 100mg viagra caps best price essays written on authors favourite books science homework help spatial order essay writing resume writing service east bay essays on eating disorder pica 40 mg noroxin buy online acheter septilin sans ordonnance german 1 homework helper order resume online zaatar w zeit dubai buy college rutgers university essay help find someone to write a finance research paper help with writing a argumentative essay buy cheap sumycin without prescription pyridium bladder an essay towards a natural history of the earth claritin best price thesis leadership glucophage and infertility help writing a comparative essay help write my research paper hire writers review buy low price essay first class law essay hire writers dissertation help bristol technology white paper writers rockit 247 without prescription buy paper term essay writing companies with jobs essay writer service uk buy high school essays online what is the purpose of a thesis statement in a speech apa essay indentation Imodium usa career objective for resume for mechanical engineer fresher order essay paper online achat alertec en pharmacie l homework helpers beneficios del viagra professional buy propecia online uk reviews phd thesis help shallaki cheapest price please do my essay for me apa format for me law school admission essay service transfer viagra dealers prandin buy pharmacy online malaysia spatial order example essay language analysis essay help where can i get help for my homework online help with essay writing write my paper blogspot resume for sales and marketing executive objectives for medical assistant resume get cheap voltarol free shipping said essay states 20 mg super tadarise best price coupon Minomycin online diabetes loss of sight physical education homework help write my paper online small 2 story house plans