ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Asian peace council inaugural meeting in Bangkok
The Bangkok forum is being put together by Dr Surakiart Sathirathai, former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, as a vehicle to help nations prevent future conflict and facilitate peace processes throughout Asia.
"It has been agreed that Asia lacks its peace-facilitating body or institute. These are noted and experienced individuals who can help create peace dialogues. Collectively their good offices can render shuttle diplomacy and engage various parties towards peace," Surakiart said in an interview.
Several Asian countries are locked in internal as well as regional conflicts, such as clashes in Sri Lanka, Indonesia's Aceh, Thailand's Muslim-majority deep South and battles in the South China Sea, which Surakiart said the proposed Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council could help resolve.
The founding members who have confirmed their participation include former East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta, Pakistan's former PM Shaukat Aziz, former Malaysian premier Tun Abdullah Badawi, Austria's former chancellor Dr Alfred Gusenbauer, Indonesia's ex-vice president Jusuf Kalla and the Philippines' former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
Others include former Singapore deputy PM Shunmugam Jayakumar; Dr Hassan Wirajuda, former foreign minister and adviser to Indonesia's president; Malaysia's former foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar; law professor and director of Harvard University's Institute of Global Law and Police, David Kennedy; Juha Christensen, professor and director of Finland's Peace Architecture and Conflict Transformation Alliance; and India's former foreign minister Yashwant Singh.
Apart from Surakiart, the other Thai founding members include Sorajak Kasemsuvan, former vice minister for foreign affairs, and Weerasak Kowsurat, former minister of tourism and sports.
The founding members will have an audience with HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during their Bangkok meeting scheduled for September 4 and 5. Surakiart described the forum as a preparatory meeting to found the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council, adding that the council's secretariat may end up being based in Bangkok.
The preparatory meeting is supported by Saranrom Institute of the Foreign Affairs Foundation.
Surakiart said that Asia actually needed a triangular system to resolve conflicts - the third part of which would be a pathfinder or facilitator. The proposed council will be independent and impartial and will help to facilitate dialogues and peace "at request". Its work will be mostly behind the scenes and it is open to individual participants from outside Asia as well.
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