Asia-Pacific Civil Society Charter for the Accelerated Achievement of the MDGs
Asia-Pacific Civil Society Charter for the Accelerated Achievement of the MDGs
Recommendations for the Special Ministerial Meeting for MDG Review in Asia and the Pacific
2 August 2010
On the eve of the Special Ministerial Meeting for MDG Review in Asia and the Pacific, significant
progress has been achieved across the region on several of the Millennium Development Goals,
including providing access to primary school for all children, reducing gender disparities in education and
stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. But Asia and the Pacific face a severe crisis in which
nearly 68% of its citizens live in extreme poverty, without enough to eat or access to basic services, such
as safe water, education and healthcare. The global financial, food and climate crises and violent
conflict has also increased disparities and particularly impacted children, marginalised communities and
As representatives of Asian and Pacific civil society from 10 countries and 27 organisations, we welcome
your governments' commitment to “intensify collective action” and “reinvigorate efforts towards
achievement of all of the MDGs” as well as your openness to civil society input. We are committed to
working with you to ensure that the upcoming High Level Plenary of the General Assembly on the
Millennium Development Goals delivers clear and concrete results for people, including measures that
realise the human rights of the 900 million Asians who continue to live in poverty.
In this spirit, we offer several recommendations to be considered during the Special Ministerial Meeting
and the high-level MDG Summit.
KEY PRINCIPLES FOR ACHIEVING A NATIONAL MDG BREAKTHROUGH PLAN
MDGs must be legislated and implemented as human rights. Under this framework, the
state is held accountable for ensuring the economic, cultural and social rights of its citizens,
including the right to food, decent work and quality education and health services, by
integrating into national planning, budget provisions and above all localisation of MDGs.
The state must also create a conducive environment for citizens to actively claim their rights.
Ensure inclusive, accountable and transparent governance processes, including a right to
information, citizen monitoring, independent commissions and legally-binding accountability
mechanisms as we develop concrete strategies to address corruption and achieve the MDGs.
Ensure broad-based civil society participation at all levels of the MDG review and
implementation process to ensure that MDG-based legal and policy frameworks are translated
into effective implementation on the ground.
Governments must allocate sufficient resources to enhance institutional capacity of service
providers to ensure that they have the equipment, infrastructure, supplies and necessary skills
for effective implementation and delivery of basic services.
1. ERADICATING POVERTY AND HUNGER
Legislating Right to Food: In the light of the emerging scenario of food crisis the states must
legislate a strong regulation by enshrining the right to food in law (para 5)
Support a ‘smallholder rescue package’ for increased agricultural productivity and sustainable
agricultural practices by facilitating the access of smallholder farmers, especially women
farmers, to natural resources such as land and water, markets, credits and inputs. Develop
and implement explicit gender strategies to support women smallholders as they are
particularly vulnerable in terms of food security. (para 24)
Composite Social Protection Package: Food and nutrition security is a critical agenda in this
region. The States have the responsibility to ensure this security and must implement cash
and food packages, public works employment schemes, free school meals, unemployment
benefits and other social grants to improve gender equality, minimum wage laws and labor
market regulations to enhance and protect the earning power of the most vulnerable
communities. (para 11, 23).
Urgently address the lack of data on hunger and malnutrition in order to properly monitor
progress and shortfalls on the Goal 1 and to design the most effective strategies for
eradicating hunger, taking into account the need for sex disaggregated data.
We appreciate the “strong commitment (of Asian governments) to intensify efforts to address
climate change” (Ref para 15, 34). Adequate and additional resources as well as technology
transfers to support adaptation and address mitigation to reduce vulnerability from climate
crisis must be prioritized.
Donors must meet their aid pledges (UN 40 Billion USD/Year) by establishing a new multi-
donor trust fund with greater coordination among donors for operationalizing and going
beyond the commitment for $20 billion over three years made by the countries represented
at the Group of Eight Summit held in L’Aquila, Italy. (para 17, 25)
2. GENDER EQUALITY
Gender equality is integral to each Millennium Development Goal. In collaboration with civil
society, governments must conduct gender audits for each MDG. (para. 10)
We are deeply alarmed that the draft document does not specifically address issues of gender
equality. We note however that a number of Asian countries have drafted and approved laws
empowering women and in line with MDG Goal 3, such as progressive legislation on violence
against women, domestic violence, harassment, and gender equality. However proper
interpretation and implementation of the legal framework is required, as is a rights-based
approach to family planning that affirms sexual and reproductive rights.
3. SOCIAL INCLUSION
The outcome document must acknowledge the links between poverty and social exclusion as
social inclusion is integral to each Millennium Development Goal. In collaboration with civil
society, governments must conduct social exclusion audits for each MDG, measuring the
MDG progress for groups facing discrimination and disadvantage on grounds such as caste,
disability, gender, ethnicity, religion, living with HIV/AIDS and sexual orientation. (insert after
Migrant worker remittances are a significant source of capital mobilisation for many countries
in the region, but migrant workers are often abused, cheated and charged exorbitant
employer agent fees. We call on Asian governments to ratify the International Convention on
Domestic Workers, adopt legal limits on broking fees and ensure that employment contracts
meet globally accepted labour standards.
The need to ensure universal access to public services (para 23) is particularly welcome as are
commitments to strengthen health infrastructure (para 13 – 14). But governments must
urgently address inequality and discrimination by implementing targeted programmes for
marginalised communities, vulnerable populations and women, including high-impact
evidence-based approaches to reduce child and maternal mortality, which remain a major
challenge in the region.
Recognizing the rights of young people as full actors in the process of development, youths
must be involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of development policies.
Ensure the right of young people to decent work.
5. FINANCING FOR THE MDGS
All Governments, those of developing countries in particular, must actively mobilise domestic
resources to finance the MDGs, and ensure budget allocation for priority areas for MDG
We acknowledge that the private sector has a role in development and in creating decent
work for all Asians, particularly women and youth. The private sector must be accountable to
uphold human rights and governments must adopt regulations to hold companies to account.
We also believe that the principle responsibility to ensure the delivery of basic public services
lies with the state. (para 28)
Asian governments must develop and support innovative financing mechanisms including a
Financial Transaction Tax, sovereign trust funds committed to particular MDGs, and debt
swaps for MDGs. (para 27)
Citizens must be able to actively engage in participatory and transparent monitoring of
budget allocation and expenditure.
Developed countries must honour their aid effectiveness commitments and deliver on their
promises to attain ODA targets, including the 0.7 percent target by 2015. (para 25)
As a sign of greater solidarity and cooperation with civil society groups, we urge the Asian leaders to
incorporate the recommendations in the final outcome document of the Special Ministerial Meeting as
contribution to the outcome document of the High Level Plenary meeting of the 65 th session of the
United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2010.