International Conference on “Re-engaging and Regaining Space: Toward a Stronger Civil Society in Lower Mekong Sub-region”
Since the past decade one of the salient agenda emerged and debates among academics and international policy makers has been the ‘shrinking space’ of civil society. Amidst this debate, we observed the growing presence of businesses around the globe. In Laos PDR, the businesses play a key role in propelling the country to attain the goal of being the battery of Asia, where businesses have been actively joined in building several dams. Private companies also strongly presence in Cambodia in agro-business or mining, where huge amount of agricultural lands were taken and cleared. In Thailand where businesses have been established from several decades, the political turmoil since 2005 has resulted in the interventions of military in politics and seems to be prolonged. While the ‘market and the state’ are forcefully advanced, the roles of civil society seems to be limited. Public spheres of Mekong Sub-region, and perhaps of Southeast Asia and the rests of the globs have tended to be dominated by the state and businesses.
In a way of responding to this, CSNM, with support from USAID, CSNM organized a Conference on the topic of “Building a Stronger of Civil Society in Mekong Sub-region” in 2014. The sessions aimed to provide a platform to promote the strength of civil society in order to be able to engage in development. At the end of the Conference, the statement named Khon Kaen declaration was issued, and key message in this was that CSOs believe in common principles and values, and CSOs will seek creative partnership with governments of the region, to address the challenges. Participants showed their commitment to further join hand to develop framework for collaboration in the future.
This conference will proceed from the 2014’s to address the issue of ‘shrinking space’ of civil society, as the Conference titled “ Re-engaging and Regaining Space: Toward a Stronger Civil Society in Lower Mekong Sub-region”. We believe that collaboration, not only among CSOs, but also ‘re-engagement with the governments and business will enable CSOs to confront with the shrinking of, and regain the civil society’s space meaningfully and effectively. We also consider that the SDGs could be a new opportunity, potential and effective entry point for CSOs to engage. While at the same time we also continue and commit to provide a platform for strengthening CSOs of the Mekong Sub-region.
1. To share and learn on CSO Tangible Research and Professional Standard experiences of each CSOs in LMS in building a stronger civil society
2. To promote regional collaboration and networks of Civil Society Organizations in LMS.