UN Headquarters

24 September 2010

Remarks at the United Nations-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting

Ban Ki-moon

Thank you very much Minister Pham Gia Khiem,

Distinguished Foreign Ministers of ASEAN,
Secretary-General of ASEAN,
Dear colleagues,

It is a great pleasure to meet again.

First of all, I'd like to apologize most sincerely for being late. There was an unavoidable situation. I am just coming from the middle of this High-level Summit Meeting on Sudan. I thought that it would take just one hour. Yesterday, I negotiated with them for an extension of half an hour. It has been two hours and I think that they will need another two hours in there. Including President Obama, there are fifteen heads of State and many ministers attending, so this was quite important.

Of course, I am here to talk about how we can strengthen our partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations. I am very much grateful for all your strong support and cooperation. I'd like to also thank the President of the General Assembly for his strong support and leadership. In addition to so many global agendas, he is also paying special attention to the ASEAN and UN relationship.

Thank you very much again; I am very glad to see old colleagues and friends here.

When it comes to ASEAN and the United Nations relationship, first of all, we are very close partners. We all have shared visions and agendas.

In that regard, I would like to address five areas in particular where the United Nations and ASEAN can work together: the MDGs, human rights, cooperation on peace and security, Myanmar, and partnership between our Secretariats.

I am sorry that I have to specifically have one visional issue among ten ASEAN countries, but this has become somewhat of a common concern among all issues.

First, the Millennium Development Goals. As I told the MDGs Summit earlier this week, despite multiple crises, there has been significant progress.

ASEAN members have been some of the most successful in meeting the goals on poverty, child health and education.

But as in other regions, there are wide disparities between and within countries, and in the ASEAN region, progress on child mortality is particularly slow. I urge ASEAN countries to take advantage of the opportunities offered by our newly launched Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health, and to step up their efforts towards all the goals. Among many side events and commitments, this Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health has been one of the most successful ones. I think it has been one of the highlights of our successes during this Summit meeting.

I also urge those countries that are in a position to offer expertise or financial assistance to show solidarity with those in need.

Second, 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.

The United Nations, and in particular the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stands ready to assist ASEAN in strengthening its regional human rights mechanisms.

Third, cooperation on peace and security. We should identify ways to work together more effectively in concrete areas, including conflict prevention and peacekeeping. This would boost the region's ability to contribute to peace efforts, locally and around the world.

Fourth, let me turn now to Myanmar.

The UN and ASEAN share the aim of stability and development in Myanmar. We agree on the critical need for a democratic transition and national reconciliation, and for ensuring free, fair and inclusive elections.

Failure to meet these expectations could undermine the credibility of the process – which, in turn, could reflect on ASEAN's collective values and principles. At the same time, we must also help Myanmar, so that they can address these humanitarian and development challenges.

With ASEAN's support, I am committed to continue working with the Government and people of Myanmar to enable a successful transition to civilian and democratic rule. I also count on your support in encouraging Myanmar's engagement with my good offices.

Finally, Secretariat-to-Secretariat cooperation and partnership. Our joint work on humanitarian relief after cyclone Nargis was a great success and an excellent example and I'd like to thank Secretary-General Pitsuwan for his leadership.

As you know, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007. We must now carry this forward, and translate it into a joint strategy for further enhancing cooperation to address global and regional issues. I look forward to further progress on this at the UN-ASEAN summit scheduled next month in Viet Nam and I am really looking forward to my visit and having meeting with leaders and yourselves in October.

Thank you all for your support and commitment to our joint goals.

I look forward to strengthening our partnership across this agenda.

Thank you very much.