Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the ninth ASEAN‑UN [Association of Southeast Nations-United Nations] Summit in Manila, Philippines, today:
I congratulate the Government and people of the Republic of the Philippines for your success in chairing ASEAN in its fiftieth anniversary year. And I congratulate all the Governments and peoples of ASEAN on the achievement of this milestone.
ASEAN was founded at a time of great turmoil in Southeast Asia. Five decades on, ASEAN is an indispensable partner in ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia and beyond.
The five men who signed the founding ASEAN declaration were two Muslims from Indonesia and Malaysia, a Christian from the Philippines, a Hindu from Singapore and a Buddhist from Thailand. This is just one sign of remarkable diversity at the heart of your region, as we meet at a time of proliferating divisions and crises.
Globalization is delivering new opportunities — but increasing economic and social inequalities, heightening citizens’ anxieties and putting pressure on social cohesion. Climate change is exacerbating severe weather events like hurricanes and storms. I commend ASEAN’s leadership at the national and regional levels for your decisive action to strengthen resilience and reduce the risk posed by climate change and other natural disasters. I will stress the importance of collective action at the global and regional levels at the COP23 [twenty-third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Germany later this week.
As I told the General Assembly of the UN in September, I am extremely concerned by the threat of global terrorism and violent extremism, including in this region. The United Nations is prioritizing support for national and regional efforts to counter terrorism and to prevent violent extremism, including the establishment of a dedicated UN Office of Counter‑Terrorism. We welcome the adoption of the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, and its recognition of the importance of comprehensive approaches and preventive action.
The United Nations stands ready to provide technical support to ASEAN and its member countries in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking and people trafficking, through policies able to protect their citizens with effective law enforcement and respect for human rights. The international community must raise the level of its response to all these complex threats. Multilateralism and regional cooperation will be critical to a peaceful and prosperous future.
ASEAN and its member States have made determined efforts to end conflict throughout the last five decades. You also have demonstrated your commitment to global peace and security through your participation in UN peace operations. Last month, I had the opportunity to honour the memory of four Cambodian soldiers killed while helping to bring peace and security to the people of the Central African Republic. I commend the bravery and sacrifice of some 4,500 military personnel, police and civilians from eight ASEAN countries who are serving in United Nations missions around the world.
Here in the Philippines, I commend your efforts towards peace over many years, with the support of other ASEAN countries and civil society. And I am heartened by the recent liberation of Marawi from ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant]. Continued trilateral cooperation between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia will strengthen regional peace and security.
I cannot hide my deep concern with the dramatic movement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh. It is a worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy and a potential source of instability in the region, and radicalization. The United Nations welcomes constructive approaches by ASEAN, including the provision of humanitarian aid to northern Rakhine. Since the beginning of the crisis, and beyond the end of violence, I have called for unhindered humanitarian access to affected communities; and the right to safe, voluntary and dignified return of those who fled, to their places of origin. Addressing the underlying issues by implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine will also be critical to reversing this tragedy.
Sustainable and inclusive development is the best way to prevent both conflict and violent extremism. That is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for a safe and prosperous future on a healthy planet, and central to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Economic growth in this region has lifted millions out of extreme poverty in the past five decades. This region was one of the best performers on the Millennium Development Goals. As it powers its way to becoming the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050, we look forward to including millions more in the shared benefits of prosperity.
In line with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the principles of democratic governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, the United Nations also stands ready to cooperate with you in strengthening the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Strengthened partnerships with regional organizations, including ASEAN, are a priority for me, and a critical pillar of my proposals to reform the United Nations. I invite all ASEAN member countries to redouble their commitment to strengthening the ASEAN‑UN partnership.
I am deeply committed to working with all of you for a quantum leap to be possible in the strategic cooperation between ASEAN and the UN. I look forward to an open exchange of views. Thank you very much.