BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, 31 March 2017 – The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) joined a fellowship programme organised by the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at University of Queensland from 27-­31 March 2017.

The ACWC exchanged views with senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Federal Police, and Ministry of Defense of Australia on various aspects of women, peace and security in the contexts of Australia and Southeast Asia. Actions to advance women, peace and security in other regions and regional organisations, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as the Nadia Initiative of UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking were shared by expert speakers.

The ACWC was also engaged in discussions with civil society organisations. The Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security, Australian National Committee on Refugee Women, Diaspora Action Australia, Australian Red Cross, and Stateless Network Asia Pacific (SNAP), shared information on their initiatives to advocate for protection of refugees, internally displaced persons, women and children as victims of conflicts and in other vulnerable situations. Senior lecturers from University of Queensland, Monash University and Griffith University shared knowledge and perspectives on issues of atrocity crime prevention and transitional justice.

The ACWC Representatives and delegates from ASEAN Member States shared information on country situations and initiatives concerning prevention and early warning of sexual and gender-­based violence, preventing atrocity crimes, women and youth participation in peace building and promoting gender responsiveness of peace processes, women’s and children’s rights in contexts of transnational justice and emerging violent extremism, and building a culture of prevention were discussed. ASEAN Secretariat highlighted the relevant regional strategies and policies on peace building, prevention of and countering extremism and promotion of moderation under the political-­security and socio-­cultural pillars.

“Women, peace and security is part of the thematic areas of the ACWC Work Plan 2016-­2020. It is also closely related to the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Elimination of Violence Against Women and ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Elimination of Violence Against Children, and other programmes promoting and protecting the rights of women and children” said Mdm. Lily Purba, Chair of ACWC and Indonesia’s Representative for Women’s Rights. She further underlined, “The fellowship programme was relevant to the ACWC as it gave broader perspectives on how we could contribute to better promotion and protection of the rights of women and children and the responsibility of each ASEAN Member State to protect women and children’s peace and security, and the whole population”.

On 29 March 2017, the ACWC introduced its work and achievements to undergraduate, graduate and post-­graduate students of University of Queensland. It was a good opportunity to raise public awareness of the ACWC. At the last day, the ACWC agreed to propose an ASEAN statement on women, peace and security for adoption at the 31st ASEAN Summit in November 2017 in the Philippines.