|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-GeneraL, at Regional Summit, Calls for Strategic Plan
to Bolster Growing United Nations-ASEAN Partnership
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at the fifth ASEAN-UN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan on 10 October:
I am pleased to join you for the fifth ASEAN-UN Summit, and I congratulate Brunei for successfully chairing ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) over the past year. Let me also congratulate His Excellency Mr. Le Luong Minh for assuming his post as the ASEAN Secretary-General earlier this year.
Two years ago in Bali, we adopted the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations. This year, we are reviewing the Joint Declaration for the first time. This framework document has laid the foundation for a partnership that is growing broader and deeper.
ASEAN is at the threshold of an exciting new era as it moves towards its next important transformation: the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015. The year 2015 also marks an important threshold for the United Nations. It marks the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, we are looking forward to a new post-2015 development agenda and an ambitious climate change agreement.
We need your engagement and dynamism to set new standards for equitable growth and sustainable development in the region and beyond. You have a tremendous opportunity to position the ASEAN region for the twenty-first century. The United Nations is proud to be your partner, and we value your openness in furthering this partnership. I would like to highlight four areas where our partnership can produce tangible results ‑ regional connectivity; sustainable development; human rights; and peace and security.
First, regional connectivity. Our assistance under the Comprehensive Partnership is closely aligned with your moves towards integration. ASEAN connectivity in the fields of transport, trade and cross-border movement is critical to your objectives for closer, more efficient relations and to spread prosperity and close development gaps within and among countries. I am pleased that our regional commission, ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), has helped ASEAN develop its Regional Connectivity Master Plan. UN collaboration will continue as you work towards establishing the ASEAN Community in 2015. We also stand ready to support efforts to improve energy security and the improved management of shared resources such as water.
This brings me to my second point: sustainable development. ASEAN countries have made impressive progress towards most of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). We will continue to work with you to achieve all the MDGs across the board. This is imperative as we work to define a shared vision for the post-2015 period. The United Nations is eager to hear the voices of ASEAN nations and work with you in implementing a bold new sustainable development agenda.
Poverty eradication must be our priority, and sustainable development our guide and principle. The new agenda must be bold in ambition yet simple in design, supported by a new partnership for development. It must be universal in nature yet responsive to the complexities, needs and capacities of individual countries. It must protect the planet’s resources, emphasize sustainable consumption and production and support action to address climate change.
Climate change is a threat to the development and prosperity of all nations. The region is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters. I extend my sympathies to the people of Cambodia and also the wider region who have been affected by recent floods and severe storms. The UN will continue our support for disaster management. This is one of the most advanced areas of our collaboration. The UN is working closely with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on this issue.
It is important to ensure that our systems are fully interoperable at all levels. Our response to disaster must also encompass preparedness and prevention. Ultimately, we can only prevent climate disasters by addressing climate change. We must do everything we can to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
To do that, we need to finalize a robust legal agreement on climate change in 2015. To add momentum to this process, I will convene a climate summit in September 2014. I am inviting leaders at the highest level — from government, business, finance and philanthropy, civil society and knowledge institutions.
I count on your leadership and I hope that all of the leaders of ASEAN will be able to participate in next year’s climate summit meeting. I will try to make it much easier for all the leaders to participate because I am now negotiating with the President of the General Assembly so that we can have one full day dedicated for climate change during the general debate session. So once you come to the United Nations you will be able to combine two important meetings. The post-2015 development agenda must also be rights-based, with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups.
This is my third point. The ASEAN region is one of the most diverse in the world, representing many of the world’s great cultures, faiths and traditions. Peace and sustainable development for all the people of the region depend on harmonious relations among communities and nations. We must avoid the divisive effects of rising inequality, which often evolve along ethnic or religious lines.
The UN stands ready to work with all of you to promote human rights for stability and development. I welcome your commitment to implementing your Human Rights Declaration in accordance with international standards. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) and others in the UN system stand ready to assist.
The fourth area I wish to address is peace and security. The UN system is working with ASEAN countries to fight corruption, transnational organized crime, including drug and human trafficking, terrorism and other non-traditional security threats. Multifaceted peacekeeping is another area for collaboration. The UN welcomes the opportunity to work with ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation that you will launch soon. We also welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre in Phnom Penh.
Let me now turn to broader issues. I applaud the various efforts to resolve tensions and conflicts in the region. The border between Cambodia and Thailand has been calm. The Thai Government has initiated a peace dialogue with one of the southern insurgent groups, facilitated by Malaysia. Malaysia also facilitated last year’s Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The two parties are now moving towards a comprehensive peace agreement.
Myanmar has been going through an unprecedented reform process, which the United Nations fully supports. However, I remain concerned about ongoing communal violence. I urge the Government and all communities to address all contributing factors. The reform process in Myanmar can only succeed fully if all groups in the country feel safe and part of the whole, secure in the realization of their human rights.
To advance our work on all fronts, we need to strengthen cooperation between our Secretariats. As we complete the review of our partnership today, may I propose that the two Secretariats work out a draft strategic roadmap for implementing the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership for 2014-2015. This would contain immediate priorities for consideration by senior officials. I welcome your views. I strongly believe it is time for our two Organizations to enhance our liaison.
As I advised your Foreign Ministers in New York last month, the United Nations plans to establish a liaison presence in Jakarta. I am very much grateful and encouraged by His Majesty’s comment that ASEAN leaders support my proposal to establish a Secretariat liaison office in Jakarta.
We have much work ahead, and we look forward to working with Myanmar as the Chair of ASEAN next year, and with Malaysia in 2015. Let us continue to work together for peace, human rights and sustainable development across Southeast Asia.
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