asean youthYouth leaders from Brunei Darussalam, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam issued a common statement on behalf of the youth in ASEAN calling for a better life and opportunities in their countries and in their region. The document is divided into three parts: Our mind, Our heart and Our body, and talks about the most urgent needs and challenges that youth in ASEAN faces today.

Youth’s Mind

ASEAN youth statement calls for sustainable and quality education for all. According to the statement there are many issues in education in ASEAN countries– insufficient qualified teaching staffs, poor education facilities, unequal education opportunities for key populations, and vulnerable and marginalized groups, and lack of programs that cater to the career goals of youth. As a response to these problems the ASEAN youth would like to establish regional education standards and urges governments to increase spending on primary education up to 20% of the national budgets and among other things also urges governments to establish an ASEAN Community Volunteer Center for all levels of education in every country in Southeast Asia.

Youth’s Heart

ASEAN youth sees a limited and restricted space for freedom of expression and meaningful participation among youth. Youth calls not only for support and investment of the governments, but also for protection of youth individuals, groups, and movements and inclusion of youth in dialogue on important societal topics.

The statement also draws attention to the still present conflict, violence and limited political freedom in the region. ASEAN youth promotes peaceful solution to the conflicts such as dialogue and negotiation and promotes the social justice and protection in the area of labor rights violations.

Youth’s Body

“We are currently living in conditions that threaten our health and the environment around us” the statement claims and calls for better health services, drug prevention, protection of sexual and reproductive health rights, and access to comprehensive information about sexual and reproductive health to enable ASEAN youth to make informed and intelligent choices.

The statement also introduces the “Right of our Earth”, concept encouraging human beings to fight for the environment and participate in development projects. Violating the rights of Nature is according to the ASEAN youth also a human rights violation. In order to ensure sustainable development and protection for the environment the youth statement encourages creation of Environmental Fund, which would help in natural disaster response and emphasize programs for youth affected by natural and man-made disasters.

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