SEAPA opens applications to 2009 Journalism Fellowship Program

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance is now accepting applications for the 8th SEAPA Journalism Fellowship Program, centered on this year’s theme, “The Challenge for Democracy and Human Rights Under the New ASEAN Charter”.

Every year since 2002, SEAPA has provided journalists of Southeast Asian nationalities with the opportunity to explore common issues affecting the communities and nations of their region. The Fellowship runs for three weeks in May, inclusive of two three-day workshops, and two weeks to cover in a Southeast Asian country other than that of the Fellows’ respective bases.

For the 2009 Fellowship, the Fellowship theme is, “The Challenge for Human Rights Under the New ASEAN Charter”.

Journalists interested in taking part in the program are invited to accomplish and submit an application form downloadable from the SEAPA website, along with a story proposal (no more than 1,000 words) in line with the given theme. Applicants must also submit two articles published from 2007 to 2009, an ID picture, curriculum vitae, and certification of employment from their media company. (Freelancers may submit certification from editors of publications where their submitted clips appeared.)

About the theme:
The ASEAN Charter was adopted at the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007 and came into force in December with a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta.

Beyond rules of membership and ASEAN’s vision for single free trade area by 2015, the ASEAN Charter affirms that among others, one of ASEAN’s purposes is “to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms…” The Charter’s outline of Principles emphasizes the need for “adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government” as well as for the community’s “respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice.”

Article 14 of the ASEAN Charter goes as far as to commit that “ASEAN shall establish an ASEAN human rights body.”

The mechanisms of such a body, however, have yet to be spelt out and finalized. Indeed, analysts and critics of the Charter stress that the stated principles and purposes relating to human rights and democracy must be weighed against ASEAN’s historical emphasis on “non-interference” and on its tradition of moving by consensus.
Given such developments and continuing concerns, the SEAPA Journalism Fellowship 2009 asks: What issues and stories might the region’s journalists want/need to highlight or explore to illustrate and discuss continuing challenges for democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia, the new ASEAN Charter considered or notwithstanding?

Story ideas could center on profiling people, communities, policies, events, or issues that can illustrate human rights challenges in the context of the ASEAN Charter.

Journalists interested in applying for this year’s Fellowship are invited to submit, along with all requirements, a proposal/essay for a potential investigative feature, centered on a topic to be explored in a Southeast Asian country other than their own.

Over three weeks in May, SEAPA Journalism Fellows will be supported by SEAPA by way of:

• Two round-trip economy air tickets: The first to fly out from the Fellow’s Southeast Asian country of origin and back; and the second to allow for coverage in a second SEA country.
• Two three-day seminars with ASEAN officials, and experts and analysts on Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Charter.
• Hotel accommodations and/or housing allowances for the duration of the Fellowship Program.
• Modest but adequate per diem and/or meals for the duration of the Fellowship program.

Fellows are required to finish a draft of an investigative/news feature article on their chosen topic by the end of the Fellowship program in May. Fellows are also expected to publish their final articles in their home publications within a month of the conclusion of the program.

How to apply:
Interested applicants may submit all forms and documents via email at . Application forms may be downloaded from the SEAPA website or simply by clicking on the following links: Fellowship 2009 Application.doc Fellowship 2009 Application.pdf

Deadline for applications is March 15, 2009.

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