|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, in Remarks to ASEAN-United Nations Summit, Spells Out
Areas for Building Stronger Cooperative Relations
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations Summit in Hanoi today, 29 October:
It is a pleasure to join you at this third ASEAN-UN Summit.
Regional organizations are making an increasingly valuable contribution to the work of the United Nations. They are helping to bring to life the vision set out in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.
The Association of South-East Asian Nations is one of our leading partners. Our relationship is strong and growing. This Summit is an opportunity to strengthen our ties further still.
We have made significant progress since our second Summit five years ago. In 2006, ASEAN was granted observer status at the UN General Assembly. In 2007, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation. The ASEAN Charter came into force in 2008. And the ASEAN-UN Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the General Assembly debate has become an annual event.
The test of our ties comes on the ground. Perhaps the most important example of our cooperation was the quick and efficient joint response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. We demonstrated that we can work together with host Governments at times of great crisis to save lives. Now, we must build on these promising foundations. I see five areas where we can and must make a concrete difference before our next meeting.
First: the Millennium Development Goals. Last month, world leaders gathered in New York for the most significant global development summit in a decade. There was good news; we have made major progress in combating extreme poverty and hunger, in improving school enrolment and child health, in providing clean water and fighting malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. One of the main messages that emanated from the Summit was that, with the right policies and programmes targeting the right people, all the Millennium Development Goals are achievable by 2015, including in the poorest countries.
Yet results have been uneven, leaving too many people behind. Nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night. This year alone, an additional 64 million people will fall into extreme poverty. ASEAN Member States have been among the most successful in meeting the goals on poverty, child health and education. But – as in other regions – wide disparities remain, between and within countries. ASEAN and the United Nations must work together to explore specific ways to close these development gaps.
The new report I am presenting today, “Striving Together: ASEAN and the UN”, points the way. We must put resources where they will have the greatest impact, in particular, the health and empowerment of women. I ask all of you here to support these efforts, in particular our Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.
We are not interested in going for the easy wins. We must strive for the hardest-to-reach goals, the hardest-to-reach people, in the hardest-to-reach places. Next month’s G-20 Summit meeting in Seoul, the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul next year, the Rio + 20 conference on sustainable development in 2012, these will be important opportunities as the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline approaches. Let us work together to seize them.
The second area where we should work more closely together is human rights. I commend ASEAN for establishing the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children. This is an important first step towards strengthening a viable culture of respect for human rights, which are an important basis for stability and development. The United Nations, and in particular the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stands ready to help ASEAN in strengthening its regional human rights mechanisms.
Third: peace and security. I would like to see the United Nations and ASEAN work together more often and more effectively in preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Such expanded cooperation would boost the region’s ability to contribute to peace efforts, in the region and around the world. I ask you to consider starting a process in which our two organizations share experiences and best practices through joint seminars, workshops and training opportunities.
Fourth: humanitarian assistance. Our successful cooperation after Cyclone Nargis should become the basis for greater collaboration. I welcome the finalization of the joint UN-ASEAN declaration on this issue, and look forward to the implementation of the UN-ASEAN Strategic Plan on Disaster Management.
Fifth: Secretariat-to-Secretariat dialogue. High-level meetings such as this have their place. But working-level contacts must also be a regular part of the continuous process. This would help us identify further areas for cooperation — and allow us to respond more quickly and effectively at times of crisis or emergency.
I would like to close by touching on two issues of mutual interest and concern.
First, the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand. I have just visited both countries, and held fruitful meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prime Minister Abhisit [Vejjajiva]. I was encouraged by their political will and pragmatism. I believe this will help to bring a peaceful resolution to the situation.
Second, Myanmar. In one week’s time, the eyes of the world will be on this ASEAN member State as it holds its first elections in 20 years. The international community, and other ASEAN members in particular, have a significant stake in seeing Myanmar turn this test into an opportunity for peace, democracy and prosperity. ASEAN and the United Nations agree on the need for a credible democratic transition and national reconciliation, including the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections.
The period immediately after 7 November, and the direction Myanmar takes in the post-election era, will be just as important as the election itself. This will be the time for the authorities to signal that they are ready to depart from the status quo. Failure to meet these expectations could undermine Myanmar’s own efforts. It could also reflect on ASEAN’s collective values and principles at a time when you are striving for greater regional integration.
The international community must remain focused and engaged. I hope ASEAN members will encourage Myanmar to see the value of closer engagement and cooperation with the United Nations in the political, humanitarian and development areas. We are ready to work with ASEAN to build a new partnership with the Government and the people of Myanmar.
Thank you again for your support and commitment to our joint goals. I look forward to strengthening our partnership for a better world.
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