The Timor-Leste Declaration
OF THE JOINT CONFERENCE ON ‘PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN ASIA,’
SPONSORED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF TIMOR-LESTE, ICAPP, CAPDI, AND IESCO
25-26 APRIL 2012.
We, officials and members of ICAPP, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties; of CAPDI, the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International; and of IESCO, the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization; met in Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste, on April 25-26, 2012, for a joint conference on “Peace and Reconciliation in Asia,” sponsored by the Office of the President and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
Our Dili Conference also marked the soft launching of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC). Started in Bangkok in August 2011, at the initiative of the leader of the Saranrom Institute of Foreign Affairs Foundation (SIFAF), Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, and ICAPP and CADPI Founder, former Philippine Speaker Jose de Venecia, the APRC is designed to advise and assist Asian governments ruling in the aftermath of internal conflicts and to help solve the difficult problem of transition to democracy and the return to popular governance in the wake of the “Arab Spring.” APRC was endorsed subsequently by the Asian political parties, by the Cambodia and Timor-Leste governments, and in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly communique, representing Southeast Asia’s parliaments.
ICAPP, founded in Manila in the year 2000, now counts 318 member-parties (governing and opposition) from 52 Asian states and growing fraternal ties with its South America and Caribbean counterparts under the original organization, COPPAL, while initiating linkages with the African political parties. CAPDI represents the centrist forces active in both Asia-Pacific electoral politics and in regional civil society, and is perhaps the only organization that brings together political parties and organizations of civil society, which are often in conflict, under one roof.
During the Dili Conference, delegations together shared experiences of often-bitter episodes of violent social conflict. They affirmed that reconciliation—and internal peace that endures—can take hold only where individual liberties work; where development leaves no group behind; and where everyone is equipped to pursue the fullest possibilities of individual life.
This Declaration sums up the resolutions of the Dili Conference and the work program it recommends for the member parties of ICAPP, with its secretariat in Seoul, CAPDI, with offices in Manila and Islamabad, IESCO with offices in Beijing and New York, accredited by the UN Economic and Social Council, and the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council.
The Timorese experience
The conferees were moved deeply by the Timorese delegation’s recollection of their people’s struggle for self-determination, culminating in 1999 when Indonesia agreed to hold a UN sponsored referendum to decide upon Timor-Leste’s independence. During the voting on August 30, 1999, 78.5% of the voters chose independence. The Timorese journey toward independence was also recognized in the awarding of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and President Jose Ramos Horta “for their work toward a just and peaceful solution”. Today, relations between Dili and Jakarta are at their best. Internal reconciliation continues with the successful run-off presidential election in April with the triumph of President-elect José Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known as Taur Matan Ruak; and the holding of parliamentary polls on July 7.
The Conference congratulated, President Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for their achievements as leading figures; President–elect Tau Matan Ruak for the dignified campaign that we hope sets the tone for Timor-Leste’s continued peaceful electoral politics; President of National Parliament Fernando Lasama de Araujo for his administration of the multi-party legislature; the leaders of Fretelin under the opposition leadership of Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres and Mari Alkatiri, and the leaders of other political parties of Timor-Leste who are members of ICAPP and Timor-Leste’s multi-party democracy; and Prime Minister Gusmão who continues to provide a steady hand in guiding the new state toward modernization.
Timor-Leste in ASEAN; Ramos Horta in Eminent Persons Council
Because of his roles as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and President, and as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, we in CAPDI unanimously nominate him as Chairman of CAPDI’s Council of Eminent Persons.
And because of Timor-Leste’s achievements, we the ruling and opposition political parties of ICAPP, the civil society organizations of CAPDI, and the anti-climate change advocates of IESCO strongly urge the ASEAN to expedite the membership of Timor-Leste in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Successful elections in Aceh
Noting the peaceful elections held earlier in April in Aceh, Indonesia’s only province governed by Islamic Sharia law, the Conference also felicitated President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for undertaking the Indonesian program of a total reconciliation with Timor-Leste and its people.
On the Aceh elections a few days ago, almost simultaneously with the Timor-Leste presidential run-off, we congratulate Indonesia’s former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Chairman of CAPDI, for the historic peace efforts that ended in a separatist conflict that had lasted 30 years. Aceh in north Sumatra enjoys broad autonomy under the unitary Republic. ICAPP and CAPDI acknowledge as well the helpful role of former Finland President Martii Ahtisaari and the peace adviser PACTA Finland General Manager Juha Christensen in the Aceh process.
The Extraordinary Cambodian Model of Reconciliation
The Dili Conference praised Cambodia’s extra-ordinary model of peace and reconciliation. During this last generation, the indomitable Cambodian people have endured conflict and suffering few nations have experienced in history.
Today they are reunited under a constitutional monarchy of King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Free elections have given Premier Hun Sen the parliamentary majority needed to restore stability and growth. Premier Hun Sen has achieved the difficult feat of integrating Khmer Rouge responsible for the deaths of two million Cambodians, and the other private armies into the regular army assisted by Deputy Premier Sok An while organizing a unity government and continuing to prosecute those responsible for war crimes in concert with the U.N. Tribunal.
Dramatic political changes in Myanmar
The Conference also welcomed the dramatic political and social changes in Myanmar. The release of political prisoners, the holding of popular elections and the convening of a parliament in which the opposition would have a meaningful part: all these signal President Thein Sein’s decision to open his country to the world. We congratulate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her many sacrifices for Myanmarese democracy and the performance of her party, the National League for Democracy, in the by-elections. We support her program of working with the regime to normalize national conditions; and resolve to help Myanmar stay on the path of reform. ICAPP and CAPDI are scheduling a visit to Myanmar to interact with the mainstream parties to stay on the path of opening to the world.
Breakthrough in Nepal
A breakthrough has been achieved in the ongoing Nepal peace process when the mainstream parties including the Maoists agreed to turnover 9,732 Maoist combatants, stored weapons, and all cantonments to the regular Nepal Army. In a limited way, ICAPP helped bring together the warring Maoists, Marxists and Congress parties in several informal talks on the sidelines of ICAPP meetings in 2010 and 2011 including a seminar sponsored by ICAPP in Kathmandu on the possible features of a new Constitution. CAPDI is joining next month a meeting in Kathmandu to work together with the Nepal Institute for Policy Studies and the Pakistan-China Institute on the continuing peace process in Nepal.
‘Yellow Shirts’ and ‘Red Shirts’ in Thailand
In Thailand, we note that economic growth is ironically sharpening income and cultural inequalities. The critical problem is that of reconciling Bangkok’s royalist ‘Yellow Shirts’ with the populist ‘Red Shirts’ of the still-poor regions upcountry. We look to our ICAPP and CAPDI colleague, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, self-exiled leader of the Red Shirts, whose group has repeatedly won elections in Thailand, who joined us in Phnom Penh, on invitation of Premier Hun Sen, to initiate bi-partisan efforts to unify the two groupings into one national constituency loyal to the revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Meanwhile we urge the popular Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, represented here by Minister Nalinee Taveesin, and the opposition headed by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to lead in the process of peace and reconciliation and hope that together they can initiate in parliament an amnesty program or Reconciliation Law to benefit both sides, and to address decisively the ethnic and cultural enmities simmering in Southern Thailand.
Temple on the Cambodian-Thai Border
ICAPP and CAPDI also assisted informal talks on the sidelines of ICAPP meetings to help resolve the mountaintop Preah Vihear Temple dispute on the Thai-Cambodian border with Indonesia and ASEAN mediation. An ICAPP-CAPDI delegation joined Deputy Premier Sok An at the temple ruins on December, 2010 and supported the International Court of Justice decision ceding the temple to Cambodia and the ASEAN call for withdrawal of the troops from both sides of the border.
The conference compliments Cambodia on the successful convening of the 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh and welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation, a theme first proposed by ICAPP and CAPDI.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban
We support the renewed effort in Iraq to bring the country’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds into a framework—a modus vivendi—for coexisting peacefully until a final settlement is reached. We welcome and support the talks in Afghanistan between the NATO coalition and the Taliban. We encourage ICAPP’s member-parties in Iraq to persevere in promoting a unity government there.
India and Pakistan parties on Kashmir
Members of ICAPP’s Indian and Pakistani member-parties, ruling and those in opposition, have met informally on the sidelines of ICAPP meetings in the last two years and we support the discussions of their foreign ministries to explore solutions to their countries’ protracted dispute over Kashmir and other issues. And we are heartened that the highest officials on both sides are working on the issue so diligently. Indian Premier Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Azif Zardari have just met again in Delhi, following Mr. Zardari’s surprise and informal but meaningful visit to India. CAPDI’s Secretary General and ICAPP Special Rapporteur, the newly elected Sen. Mushahid Hussain Sayed has used the ICAPP-CAPDI platform to encourage the talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Two Koreas and the Taiwan Straits
For the two Koreas, we recommend the same patient approach to their intractable problems of unification. We will encourage their ruling parties to meet informally, on the sideline of ICAPP events, on the model of the Chinese-Taiwanese political parties, whose quiet work, led by the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang, has brought the Straits its most stable period in 60 years.
The Spratlys and Zone of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation
We support as well the efforts of China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and ASEAN to reduce the tension over the Spratlys in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea and the East Sea to the Vietnamese) and to convert the Zone of Conflict into a binding Zone of Peace, Friendship, Cooperation and Development and hope the area’s hydrocarbons, mineral, and fishery resources and potential for tourism will eventually benefit the claimants while insuring free, untrammelled navigation for ships of all nations.
ICAPP’s Track Two diplomacy
The Conference is pleased with the slow but quiet progress of ICAPP’s and CAPDI’s ‘Track Two’ diplomacy and informal roles. Political parties are ideal for back-channel contacts, being both unofficial and authoritative and we appreciate as well the useful activist role of the non-government organizations. For post-conflict states such as Nepal, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria and the other ‘Arab Spring’ countries, secular governments of national unity are the best means of managing the political factions and dealing cooperatively with national problems of underdevelopment. We look forward to the formal launching of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council in Bangkok in June or August this year.
The Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council
ICAPP and CAPDI are pleased to have had a part in founding the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council in Bangkok—a civil-society grouping that will assist and advise Asian governments ruling in the aftermath of internal conflicts. The Council—to be based in Bangkok—is to be headed by global civil society leaders from both East and West.
Among those who signed its founding Bangkok Declaration, on August 25, 2011, were two former Presidents (of Poland and Chile); a former chancellor of Austria and a former prime minister of Pakistan; a former Secretary General of ASEAN, and the Director of the Institute for Global Law and Policy of Harvard Law School, the president of the Saranrom Institute of Foreign Affairs Foundation, and the founding chairman of ICAPP and founding president of CAPDI.
The Council’s Primary Purpose
The Syrian uprising is only the most recent example of how citizens in the new countries are claiming their civil liberties. Since popular rebellions arise from pent-up grievances, they always demand accounting and retribution for the crimes of the old regime. Yet the primary need of the new political order must be for truth, justice and reconciliation as balms for healing society’s wounds.
Everywhere in the emerging states, the need is to ensure that popular victories won at so great cost are not dissipated by the excesses of the new governments. Justice must be done without new blood debts becoming owed; and without impairing national society’s ability to face the future united, at peace with itself, and serene.
The transitional state must heal society’s wounds and lay the basis for political, economic, and social reforms that will endure. It is this constructive spirit of peace and reconciliation that the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council will seek to establish and promote.
Principles that will guide our Council’s work
The principles that will guide our Council’s work are simple, straight-forward, and commonsensical. We do not believe there can be true reconciliation without restitution being rendered to the victims of injustice. And because the principals of the old regime will obviously have their partisans still embedded in national society, these principals must, as far as is possible, help the new government in unifying the country.
Where our Council’s good offices may be most useful
The ‘Arab Spring’ countries are the most recent examples of the spontaneous, popular revolutions sweeping the new countries. Typically, they pit the moral authority of unarmed civilian protesters against the willingness of desperate authoritarian regimes to fire on their own peoples.
There are also internal conflicts set off by ethnic, religious, and cultural schisms ongoing in Southern Thailand; Mindanao in the Philippines; in parts of East Indonesia, and in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, Islamist radicalism is stirring in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Southern Philippines. In these settings, Track Two diplomacy has good chances of conciliating parties and factions alienated from mainstream society.
We acknowledge the presence here of distinguished representatives of peacekeeping and conflict prevention groups, the Geneva Based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, PACTA Finland based in Helsinki and Singapore, and Germany’s Hans Seidel Foundation.
Support for the Philippines’ Peace Talks
We support the efforts of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to advance the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and to revive the stalled negotiations with Communist National Democratic Front and the New People’s Army, following the earlier Philippine successes with the agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 and with military rebels RAM-YOU in 1992 and 1995, spearheaded by the CAPDI officials, then President Fidel Ramos and then Speaker de Venecia.
Situation in the Caucasus
On the situation in the Caucasus, as we urged in Baku, there is need to uphold justice, the rule of law, and the UN resolution on the question of Nagorno-Karabakh, and we appreciate the position of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and the New Azerbaijan Party to promote peace, reconciliation, and development in the region.
The Syrian Crisis
ICAPP and CAPDI sent our urgent appeal to ICAPP’s 10-member parties in Syria and civil society organizations with some links to CAPDI to support the Syrian National Council and the peace mission of the joint U.N.-Arab peace envoy, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, to stop the violence and bring about a ceasefire and the start of a political process. We urge the neighboring Arab political parties, members of ICAPP, to extend support to our embattled friends in Syria.
Toward the Asian Century
By its very nature, much of our Council’s work must be informal, low-key, even anonymous. Our Council’s authority will depend on the thoughtfulness and fairness of its advice; and its effectiveness on the sincerity of the assistance it offers to opposing parties. Ours will be a modest effort that we hope will help, in however small a way, to ease the internal conflicts that impede our home-continent from achieving The Asian Century.
We in ICAPP, CAPDI, APRC and IESCO, stand against political extremism and separatism in every form. We will seek reconciliation in Asia’s conflict zones – from the Koreas to the Taiwan Straits – from Mindanao through Southern Thailand to Nepal – from Kashmir and Afghanistan to Iraq and Palestine – and from Chechnya to the Caucasus
Negotiated Political Settlements
Together, we urge instead the negotiated settlement of problems within and between nations and proposed creative and practical approaches to their solution.
We reject any resort to intimidation or violence as a means of settling political disputes. Instead, we urge the negotiated political settlements within and between the states we represent.
In unity, we also seek to eradicate poverty and political corruption, fight climate change and environmental degradation, speed up the political and economic integration of our continent – and bring about the Asian Century.
Last year, as part of its program to broaden its reach and increase its interaction with the international community, ICAPP, through its Standing Committee and the Secretariat, headed by Secretary General Chung Eui-yong, presented its petition to serve as Observer of the UN General Assembly, and we are hopeful for the results.
Finally, we in ICAPP, CAPDI, IESCO, and the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council express our profound gratitude to the State of Timor-Leste, led by President Jose Ramos Horta and to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, Finance Minister Emilia Pires, Chairman and members of the Organizing Committee of the Dili Conference, and to the Timorese people for their outstanding hospitality, steadfast commitment, and generous support which led to the success of this Conference.