New York

22 September 2016

Secretary-General's opening remarks to the ASEAN-UN Ministerial Meeting [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellency, Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Chair of ASEAN in 2016, Distinguished Foreign Ministers of the Governments of ASEAN, Your Excellency, Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to United Nations Headquarters, as you warmly welcomed me to Vientiane earlier this month.

Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saleumxay Kommasith, as the Chair of ASEAN, I would like to congratulate the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the success of chairing ASEAN in the first year of the ASEAN Community.

It was a great honour to participate in my last ASEAN-UN Summit and in the East Asia Summit. The focus of the ASEAN-UN Summit on regional and international issues demonstrated the increasing, global projection of ASEAN in a broad range of areas including peace and security issues, disaster management and other areas of cooperation under our comprehensive partnership.

The ASEAN-UN partnership continues to strengthen and deepen.

Let us move forward on our new joint Plan of Action to make our priorities into realities.

I welcome ASEAN’s leadership on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Thailand’s role as coordinator. His Majesty King Bhumibol has been recognized by the United Nations for his strong record on development. I am encouraged that ASEAN Foreign Ministers will hold a Special Session focusing on Sustainable Development and the Special Panel Discussion on 24 September.

These initiatives will support the development of complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for our future engagement.

In the implementation of the Plan of Action, I count on ASEAN and UN partners to explore ways to ensure the mainstreaming of human rights and gender across all areas of our cooperation

Excellencies,Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to touch on some of the areas of common concern.

I welcome the support of ASEAN member states at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants. We continue to face pressing challenges on irregular migration, in South-East Asia and around the world. Lasting solutions will require strong regional and international cooperation, based on respect for human rights.

The UN stands ready to partner with ASEAN to establish comprehensive regional solutions to address this issue, along the lines of global best practices

ASEAN is showing leadership on rapid, effective and coordinated humanitarian response.  The ASEAN-UN Joint Strategic Action Plan for Disaster Management remains an exemplary model of the potential for our cooperation.  I call again on ASEAN to share your achievements and challenges with other regional organisations.

Violent extremism continues to threaten all countries, including in the ASEAN region. My Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism sets out a comprehensive approach, from security-based counter-terrorism measures to ways of addressing the underlying factors that drive individuals to join extremist groups. I urge all countries to adopt the recommendations that are relevant to them and to draw up their own national plans. 

We look forward to ASEAN Member States’ contributions to the forthcoming ASEAN-UN Regional Dialogue on Preventing Violent Extremism, to be held in Jakarta.

I also commend the determined efforts by ASEAN member states to end conflict and build peace, in the world and the region. I welcome ASEAN’s growing role and contributions of more than 4,500 personnel to United Nations peace operations. I encourage you to play a full part in increasing global capacity for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

In the ASEAN region, I again welcome the inclusive peace processes that are underway in the Philippines and Myanmar. I repeat my call for all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their disputes, including maritime disputes, in a peaceful manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Next year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. In that half century, your organization has grown into an indispensable partner for peace, stability and prosperity, not just in Southeast Asia, but globally.

Regional and sub-regional organizations have a vital and growing role in our inter-connected, inter-dependent world. Your progress towards regional integration and harmony gives greater meaning to Chapter 8 of the United Nations Charter. 

I look forward to next year’s Chairing of ASEAN by the Government of the Philippines, as you mark your 50th anniversary, and I wish you great success for the future.

Thank you.