Pan-Asian workshop aims to boost social monitoring in Asia

The dynamics of International Financial Institutions and private capital in the globalized world has often acted as delimiting factors to state sovereignty. The role of Social Watch as a ‘watch dog’ gains significance in the current context of multiple crisis stressed the Pan-Asian Workshop: "Who pays? The global crises and what needs to be done – an Asian perspective" held in New Delhi, India, 22- 24 February 2010.

The Asia level workshop was organized with the aim to provide regional coalitions with efficient tools to analyze and monitor public policy and to forge greater cooperation between organizations in order to build a common advocacy campaign in the region. The workshop included participants from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Burma, Mongolia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Nepal and India.

Participants were first given the larger political context regarding the need of restructuring of institutions of global governance along democratic lines. Shifting from G-8 to G-20 is not sufficient as the goal should be G-192, meaning the inclusion of developing and least developed countries in decision making. 

Speakers gave a broad overview of the problems facing the Asian countries. For example, growth models are oriented to either industry or services while ignoring the primary sector. The result is that the most of the countries are becoming food dependent. The financial meltdown has exposed the limitations of the market and the people are again looking towards the state. But there is a need for an accountable state, which can be achieved only through democratization of public policy, knowledge, governance and technology.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) also featured high in the discussions as the UN is about to discuss progress at a General Assembly meeting in September 2010 in New York. Critics often ask Whose goals were these goals – of people or the government?. It is also said that MDG do not take local variations into account. The experience of Thailand draws attention towards this issue.

The use of efficient social indicators was also discussed as a tool for governance accountability at different levels of public policy making: formulation, implementation and outcome. Participants agreed that there is a strong need to strengthen budget and human rights measurements, particularly gender budgeting and the Social Watch Basic Capability Index is a great tool to assess effective government action on these areas.  Experiences in developing countries demonstrate that even high growth is not inclusive.

Participants divided into groups to work on: 1. mapping of the issues on governance accountability, 2. the contribution of National Coalition and 3. Potential ideas for Social Watch Asia. They came up with the following ideas to move forward:

  • Active synergy around the national coalitions in Asia and the activities of Social watch in Asia has to continue around these existing synergies.
  • Communication among different coalitions- reviving of Asia list serve to have sharing of experiences, flow of information and just general discussions around some key issues.
  • Active participation in the existing channels such as Social Watch list serve, Newsletter etc.
  • Continue and define this role as learning and sharing platform, sharing of information, experiences and capacities
  • Moving beyond formal conversations and opening up of regional and bilateral conversations
  • The role and objectives of the workshop needs to be structured – it can either be a workshop or focus on capacity building. The workshop in Delhi oscillated between the two.
  • Formulate a specific strategy for Asia Social watch- discussions in the list serve or e groups can be a starting point. 
  • Build synergy with existing campaigns-nationally and internationally
  • Develop Pan Asia accountability tools
2010-India-capacity_building_workshop-Report_on_Pan.doc5.28 MB