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The ASEAN Summit is the highest decision-making body within ASEAN and consists of heads of states from each member state. These meetings are held twice annually in April/May and October/November, hosted by the ASEAN Chairship’s member state.

The ASEAN Summit is responsible for (ASEAN Charter, Article 7):

  • Deliberating, provide policy guidance on and taking decisions on key issues pertaining to the realisation of the objectives of ASEAN, important matters of interest to member states and all issues referred to it by the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the ASEAN Community Councils and ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies
  • Instructing the relevant Ministers in each of the Councils concerned to hold ad hoc inter-Ministerial meetings, and address important issues concerning ASEAN that cut across the Community Councils. Rules of procedure for such meetings shall be adopted by the ASEAN Coordinating Council
  • Addressing emergency situations affecting ASEAN by taking appropriate actions
  • Deciding on matters referred to it in a peaceful and cooperative manner
  • Authorising the establishment and the dissolution of Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and other ASEAN institutions
  • Appointing the Secretary-General of ASEAN, with the rank and status of Minister, who will serve with the confidence and at the pleasure of the Heads of State or Government upon the recommendation of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting

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How does it help tackle violence against women?

As the highest-decision making authority, the ASEAN Summit has the ability to raise violence against women as an area of regional concern and call for all member states to cooperate on efforts to eliminate the violation. It also has the ability to adopt regional plans of action on gender-based violence and declarations related to violence against women referred to it by other ASEAN bodies. During the November 2015 ASEAN Summit, heads of states adopted the Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

iconStarCivil Society Engagement: ASEAN People’s Forum

The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) is a meeting between CSOs throughout the ASEAN region, also known as the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC). The forum takes please annually, prior to the ASEAN Summit. It is the largest gathering of civil society in ASEAN and provides a space to lobby and engage ASEAN on various social, political and economic issues.

The ASEAN People’s Forum operates according to 7 guiding principles (see the APF website):

  • Human Rights – adhere to international human rights principles and standards as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights laws
  • Democracy – principle of democratic process to be respected
  • Good governance – to be participatory, consultative and have genuine engagement and dialogue
  • Rule of law – to adhere to the rule of law
  • Non-discrimination – to respect that everyone is equal irrespective of race, religion, sex, gender, social opinion and other status, etc.
  • Progress/Evolution – not to regress in term of human rights and to be updated with current minimum standards; and
  • Commitment to spreading awareness on ASEAN – socialising ASEAN to constituents

Previous forums have featured women-focused workshops and panels relating to women’s rights and the eradication of violence against women. There have been opportunities for CSOs to directly engage with member-state leaders on these topics. Each year, the result of APF proceedings is passed are transmitted to the ASEAN Summit for consideration.

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