APPF - Tokio Declaration Logo

5th Annual Meeting January 7-10, 1997

Vancouver, Canada

The Vancouver Declaration

 

New Vision of the Asia-Pacific Region in the 21st century

Introduction:

Constructing a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific common house

 

The international community is in the process of building a new world order now that the Cold War is over, and Asia-Pacific is attracting worldwide attention as the most dynamic region because of its remarkable economic growth. Countries in the region are cooperating more closely than ever, due in part to the increased economic exchanges in the area, greater trade and investment, and technological advances in fields like transportation and telecommunications, with an increasing sense of common destiny to live together and to share prosperity.

The Bogor Declaration of 1994 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Action Agenda adopted at the APEC Osaka Meetings in 1995 and the meetings in the Philippines show that the cooperative framework in the region is deepening. These achievements make us justifiably proud as we look forward to APEC membership for all qualifying APPF member countries.

Asia-Pacific is a diverse area with many different political systems, levels of economic development, culture, religion and languages. Rather than viewing this diversity as a shortcoming, however, we should see it as strong advantage because it makes Asia-Pacific a "region of possibilities" that can create a new era through the harmonization of different cultures. In other words, we should embrace our differences with the goal of creating something new, rather than seeing diversity as a source of potential conflict.

Of course everyone in the region must respect the universal values that much of the world strives for today-values such as democracy, human rights, a free trade system and the desire to bring all citizens together in harmony. What we are pursuing is the unity and diversity of the Asia-Pacific region, keeping mutual respect for the customs, values and traditions of various countries, while learning from each otherīs experience and seeking a common ground from which to build.

In order to achieve general prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, it is important form a consensus gradually through dialogue and by respecting the traditions of member countries. We hereby propose to name this gradual approach the "Asia-Pacific Way" as a guiding principle for all human beings in the 21st century.

The Parliamentary members of APPF are determined to make the Asia-Pacific community a common house where people can lead peaceful and prosperous lives. And we, as parliamentarians with considerable influence upon the policy-making processes of understanding, trust and friendship to promote cooperation in regional politics, security, the economy, and culture, through such regional inter-parliamentary organizations as the APPF, with a view to resolving and preventing problems that this region faces.

To this end, we hereby propose:

 

1.- Politics and Security

The regionīs economic growth has made Asia-Pacific increasingly stable. Nevertheless, some problems and destabilizing factors remain. The region has moved towards adopting a cooperative approach to handling tensions and potential problems, including the establishment in 1994 of a multilateral security dialogue, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In order to make peace and stability in the region a long-term reality, we are determined to support the activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum and to conduct political and security dialogue at a variety of levels and through different channels using existing bilateral and multilateral relationships.

In order to promote peace and stability in the region and increase mutual understanding and confidence among the countries, we reiterate the 7 principles governing relations among the countries in Asia-Pacific:

 

1.Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

2.Recognition of the right of every state to exist as a nation, free from external interference, subversion or coercion in its internal affairs;

3.Peaceful settlement of international disputes in accordance with international law and treaties;

4.Mutual efforts to expand confidence building measures, develop preventive diplomacy and strengthen regional resiliency;

5.Renunciation of the threat or use of force except in self-defence;

6.Adherence to international instruments which will prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass

destruction;

7.Respect of the UN Charter and cooperation to achieve efficiently its objectives.

 

2.- Economy

Liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific are vital in maintaining the regionīs dynamism as a global growth centre that can positively impact the world economy. Liberalizing trade and investment will promote economic interdependence and make the region more efficient, thereby creating jobs and improving the standard of living of people in the region as an effective way to eliminate poverty. The Bogor Declaration, adopted at the APEC Leaderīs Meeting in November 1994, designated the liberalization of trade and investment and promotion of development cooperation while reducing economic disparities among them and improving the economic and social well being of the people of the Asia-Pacific region, as one of its primary goals. The Action Agenda at the APEC Leaderīs Meeting in Osaka in November 1995 was adopted to put these goals into practice. APEC member economies compiled individual Action Plans in accordance with the Osaka Action Agenda and submitted them to the 1996 Ministerial Meeting at Manila.

It is now time for us to urge governments to step-up efforts in making APEC a model of "open regional cooperation" that can supplement and reinforce the multilateral free trade system (WTO system) by sharing the benefits of liberalization within the region with countries elsewhere.

Specifically, we will request our governments to allow non-member countries the opportunity to share the fruits of APECīs labor in liberalizing trade and investment within the region. In order to promote cooperation among regional organizations, we will hold consultations with parliamentarians from such other regional organizations.

In order to narrow the differences in levels of economic development within the Asia-Pacific region and further vitalize the regional economy, it is important to promote economic and technical cooperation in fields like the development of human resources, sciences and technology, energy, small and medium-sized enterprises, and transportation and communications. We are determined to promote regional cooperation to help rectify these disparities while utilizing intergovernmental assistance, especially South-South cooperation, in these fields.

Furthermore, encouraging the vitality and initiative of the private sector to ensure further economic sustainable development in the region is necessary. To do this, an environment where the private sector can smoothly conduct business activities, while not imposing economic constraints on vulnerable economies in the region must be created. We will pursue deregulation, harmonization of standards and certification as well as multilateral assistance schemes to remove barriers to economic activities in the private sector in accordance with APECīs 1994 Bogor Declaration and the guidelines of the World Trade Organization.

 

3.- Environment

Environmental issues are a key challenge facing the Asia-Pacific region. Environmental problems are beginning to affect not only the degree to which people in the region can enjoy the results of economic growth but more fundamentally will begin to impede the extent of that growth.

Demand for food and energy in the region will grow rapidly as standards rise and expectations increase. Soil erosion, salinity and pollution of marine and water resources will accompany pressure for greater agricultural productivity, while increased demands for energy will impact on the global climate. The growth of urban environments throughout the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region will also place a huge strain on basic services such as water, sanitation and shelter. These problems will need to be addressed by all regional governments.

The reality of the environmental challenges facing the region cannot be denied. Protection of the environment and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific must not be viewed as incompatible with economic growth, but as the only thing that will ensure its continuation.

As environmental deterioration can spread beyond the limits of a country and could affect a neighboring area, a regional approach to environmental management should be encouraged. In formulating a regional approach, the environmental differences and the different demands of industrializing and developing economies should also be taken into consideration.

 

4.- Law and Order

Within the context of fostering respect for the various laws of our Asia-Pacific community, activities such as terrorism, production of and trafficking in illicit narcotics, money laundering and the operations of internationally organized crime syndicates must be recognized and remedial action taken either through existing laws or through the enactment of legislation, where necessary, that will outlaw such activities.

The social welfare of our communities, the economies of our nations and the political and national security of the region cannot be guaranteed if illegal elements, both domestic and international, are allowed to operate with impunity. To prevent this happening we must stand firm and address this threat by enacting appropriate legislation, implementing effective enforcement and fostering closer

international cooperation to eradicate the problem, thus ensuring that events that have caused catastrophic problems elsewhere are not allowed to take hold in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

5.- Human Rights

For a long time, the world has struggled against the infringement of human rights. We have fought against slavery, racism, segregation and other forms of human rights violation. Today, we face old but newly recognized violations, for example the exploitation of women and children. It is vital that we start tackling the situation immediately, and that we make very clear our determination to find ways to put an end to these abuses.

Any form of exploitation is unacceptable and merits our intense concern, so that we can offer our children a brighter future and enable all women to achieve equality, dignity and respect.

 

6.- Education and Cultural Exchanges

The APPF is concerned about the different standards of education in the Asia-Pacific region. Even in some of the most developed countries, we find high degrees of illiteracy among adults and children.

The APPF supports access to education for all individuals. Its members are prepared to work towards a goal for total literacy in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Improving standards of education is important to increase the productivity of the region, to enhance the cultural level, to promote social welfare and to raise the standard of living in Asia-Pacific countries.

Furthermore, to foster mutual understanding, mutual trust, and true friendship in the Asia-Pacific, we think it is important to understand and respect different cultures. When encountering different cultures in the future, we should base our cooperative efforts on universal values while preserving traditional values and refrain from causing friction. The most effective way to accomplish this goal is to create as many opportunities as possible for the youth to meet and cultivate true friendship and trust. In order to lay a solid foundation for this, we will call on governments to take the initiative so the countries in the region will implement the "Program on Youth Friendship for the 21st Century" to promote youth exchanges.

It is vital to promote exchanges among researchers at universities and research institutes. "The Academic Exchange Program" is proposed to achieve this and is aimed at promoting joint research projects between universities and research institutes and at training younger researchers. We also propose to establish a "Comprehensive Joint Research Centre" on culture and education in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The program must include women, who have not sufficiently benefited from such exchanges. We will urge the government of each country in the region to establish language and technical programs especially for women.

To promote mutual understanding and friendship between countries in the Asia-Pacific, it is important to create an information infrastructure as a basis for exchanges. We propose that the "Asia-Pacific Open Information Network" be established as an information infrastructure where

diversity and openness - the characteristics of our region - will be respected. This network will include legislative information exchange so that legislative experience and knowledge gained by each individual country of the region can be shared among APPF member countries.

The APPF through its member countries can play an important role in encouraging practical cooperation between parliamentary institutions and in fostering political/parliamentary exchanges, as well as in strengthening regional confidence building and preventive diplomacy.

 

Conclusion

The 21st Century, full of new opportunities and dynamism, is drawing near. In order to build a vigorous and harmonious Asia-Pacific and fully demonstrate the great potential within this region, we , the parliamentary members of the APPF are determined to fulfil our obligations and make important contributions to this end, aspiring to build as a final goal, the Asia-Pacific common house full of harmony and dynamism.