Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council briefing on Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations cooperation, in New York today:
I thank Viet Nam, as President of the Security Council and Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2020, for organizing this briefing.
At this time of increasingly complex challenges for global peace and security, cooperative and inclusive multilateral efforts, including strong partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, are essential.
Since its formalization in 2011, the Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations has become an important component of the United Nations broad engagement with regional organizations.
Today, we focus on how ASEAN and the United Nations can strengthen our cooperation in addressing threats to peace and security.
First, I would like to recognize the long-standing contributions of ASEAN member States to United Nations peacekeeping. Some 5,000 military and police personnel from seven ASEAN member States are currently serving in missions around the world.
The increasing number of women peacekeepers deployed by ASEAN Member States is a testament to ASEAN’s recognition of the critical roles that women peacekeepers can and must play in implementing mission mandates.
All 10 ASEAN member States have endorsed the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, and we continue to work closely to implement shared commitments and ensure that peacekeeping remains fit for purpose.
We are also grateful that six ASEAN countries have made pledges to the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. I would also like to thank Viet Nam, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia for hosting, on a rotating basis, the Triangular Partnership Project to improve the engineering capacity of peacekeepers in the region and beyond.
Since its formation in 1967, ASEAN has been engaged in many regional initiatives in quiet diplomacy, conflict prevention and peacebuilding in conflict situations.
In 2011, the Security Council supported ASEAN’s diplomatic efforts to promote peaceful solutions to end border skirmishes between Thailand and Cambodia. More recently, ASEAN’s engagement on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has enormous importance for the United Nations.
It is essential that international efforts find a solution to the plight of displaced persons and refugees still living in desperate conditions.
Our strengthened cooperation with ASEAN is crucial in helping to advance concrete steps in line with humanitarian principles and the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. These require urgent follow-up in their entirety, including actively creating the conditions for the voluntary return in safety and dignity of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin or choice.
The United Nations also welcomes the constructive dialogue between ASEAN and China towards the maintenance of regional peace and maritime security. We look forward to the conclusion of a “Code of Conduct” in the South China Sea to help prevent maritime disputes.
ASEAN plays a key role in the regional peace and security architecture, including bringing together major regional Powers within ASEAN-led fora.
We encourage ASEAN to use that great convening power to effectively and creatively address peace and security threats in the broader Asia-Pacific region.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains of deep concern. Through public and quiet diplomacy, including by hosting historic meetings in Singapore and Hanoi, the ASEAN region has contributed to efforts to promote sustainable peace and security, and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
With Indonesia and Viet Nam as active members of the Security Council in 2020, we hope that stronger links can be built between ASEAN and the UN to advance diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula.
Looking ahead, there are multiple potential areas of practical cooperation between ASEAN and the United Nations in the areas of peace and security.
First, ASEAN and the United Nations can strengthen cooperation on peacekeeping, including on training, increasing women’s participation in peace processes and peacekeeping, and sharing lessons learned with other regional organizations.
Second, the United Nations is ready to strengthen concrete technical cooperation, in particular with the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and the recently launched ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry.
We look forward to strengthening our cooperation on implementing the women, peace and security agenda and to advancing the youth, peace and security agenda in the region. We also look forward to our continued cooperation on technical assistance and capacity-building in the area of human rights and the strengthened role of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
Third, the United Nations will further strengthen its technical support to ASEAN in counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism, particularly through the ASEAN Plan of Action to Counter and Prevent the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism.
Fourth, ASEAN and the United Nations both recognize the urgency of improving border management to address cross-border security threats and transnational organized crime.
Fifth, ASEAN and the United Nations could jointly explore developing early warning arrangements and threat analysis, including for well-understood threats stemming from inequality and exclusion, as well as new and emerging threats in areas such as hate-speech and cybersecurity.
This was discussed at the ASEAN-United Nations Regional Dialogue on Political-Security Cooperation jointly organized by the United Nations and Viet Nam in Hanoi last month.
Sixth is the climate crisis. The climate emergency has significant wide-ranging global implications, including on peace and security.
Given that four ASEAN Member States rank among the 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change, we look forward to strengthening our ties with ASEAN nations as they take urgent action to strengthen adaptation and build resilience to disasters. We also look forward to supporting countries to build their energy security while decarbonizing their economies as part of mitigation action in preparation for the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties.
Finally, after several years of close cooperation with the United Nations on natural disaster management, ASEAN has recently initiated the provision of support to conflict- and human-induced disasters.
In support, the United Nations will provide technical knowledge and build on existing relationships to forge strategic synergies, collaborations and paths forward for future work, including in the context of the resilience actions of the Complementarities Roadmap that was noted at the tenth ASEAN-United Nations Summit in November last year.
I am deeply convinced of the value of ASEAN-United Nations cooperation for peace, security and sustainable development.
With the presence of two engaged and dynamic ASEAN members on the Council in 2020, I look forward to our two organizations working increasingly closely together for the future we want and need.