Entering the year, the world is faced with many challenges: from the global pandemic of COVID-19; the impending economic recession; and the worsening human rights situation in many countries. Bearing the brunt of these are marginalized sectors across the world — from farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, among others — who continue to struggle for their right to livelihood, social services, and development amidst the pandemic.
The progression of the global health crisis has exposed the incapacity of the rotten framework of neoliberalism in responding to such emergencies. It is clear that the greed of imperialist countries, multinational, and transnational corporations in carrying out their profit-seeking agenda are manifested in the neglect of governments to their people. Governments across the world remain steadfast in upholding the business-as-usual model to ensure their economic gains and the political consolidation of the elite by fast-tracking repressive and authoritarian policies to secure this arrangement.
In the 75th Year Anniversary Commemoration of the United Nations, the overall theme of “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”, bannered how “multilateralism is key in times of crisis and in the continuing pursuit of long-term sustainable development.” This process, however, has only resulted in further widening the gap between the rich and the poor, the degradation of our environment through the extraction of resources in developing countries, the exclusion of marginalized sectors in decision-making processes, and the shrinking of democratic and civic spaces, and the intensified attacks on people’s rights.
Civil society and people’s organizations in the Asia Pacific, working closely with the most affected and marginalized sectors in their respective regions, have relentlessly lobbied and pushed for engagements with governments, private actors, and policy-making arenas in raising the standard on new ways of working especially now with COVID-19. CSOs have continuously posed the challenge for state actors and stakeholders to address systemic barriers in our society in order to move towards a people-centered, proactive, and inclusive development that puts the people’s needs at the forefront of their discussions and action plans. This can only be concretized through challenging the current system and realizing that sustainability lies in systemic change and the social solidarity of the people as its main driver.
With this, the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum on People’s Resistance Against Systemic Barriers in the time of COVID-19 aims to serve as a space for civil society and people’s organizations to discuss the current state-of-play in the region and how they continue to persist and stand as equal development partners amidst the global health pandemic. As key stakeholders, CSOs and people’s organizations intend to lay down concrete people’s demands, recommendations, and possible initiatives to states on how to respond to COVID-19. Aligned with the framework of Development Justice in order to raise the discourse on the genuine structural change we want and need.
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