Seoul Summit 2000–AELF1: At the ICFTU/ICFTU-APRO Conference in October 2000 in Seoul a trade union delegation met with the Minister of Labour of the Korean Government and demanded the release of all imprisoned trade unionists. The Conference adopted the ‘Charting a Social Direction to ASEM’ statement that called for the inclusion of social and employment issues in the full agenda of ASEM and requested reorienting the ATF towards more poverty alleviation and social projects. It further stressed that fundamental workers’ rights enshrined in the new ILO Declaration of 1998 should be respected. Addressing these concerns to a limited extend, the Chairman’s statement stressed the need to expand the work of ASEM to pertain to social safety nets and human resource development, including lifelong learning, particularly with a view to ensuring that “the benefits of globalisation are widely shared while reducing its adverse effects”.

Copenhagen Summit 2002-AELF2: With a view to strengthening the social dimension in the ASEM process, the ‘Building a Social Pillar for ASEM’ Statement urged ASEM Leaders to establish taskforces and hold regular Labour and Social Ministers’ meetings to integrate social concerns, such as poverty reduction, the creation of decent work and social safety nets, throughout the ASEM work programme. The Trade Union Conference also called for a Social adopted a Trade Union Plan of Action towards the 5th ASEM Summit which decided on strengthening social issues in the work of ASEM. The Chairman’s Statement did not directly refer to the trade union recommendations, but gave consideration to the idea of an ASEM Labour Ministers’ Meeting. The statement stressed that ASEM needed to promote cooperation in the social fields, as well as on education and environment.