Cooperation Between UN and ASEAN - 8711th Security Council Meeting

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30-Jan-2020 02:20:27
United Nations cooperation with South-East Asian Nations Association vital for fight against climate change, terrorism, organizations’ chiefs tells Security Council.

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Speakers also Focus on Rohingya Refugees, Code of Conduct for South China Sea

Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is vital to maintaining international peace and security and combating global menaces such as climate change and the spread of terrorism, the heads of the two organizations told the Security Council today, as some delegates described the regional bloc’s consensus-building approach, known as the ASEAN Way, as an example to follow.

“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,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his briefing to the 15-member organ. He noted that, since its formation in 1967, ASEAN has been involved in many regional initiatives in quiet diplomacy, conflict‑prevention and peacebuilding in conflict situations.

ASEAN’s engagement with the United Nations on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is crucial in helping to advance concrete steps in line with humanitarian principles and the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, he said. Welcoming the constructive dialogue between ASEAN and China to maintain regional peace and maritime security, he said he looks forward to the conclusion of a code of conduct in the South China Sea to help prevent maritime and territorial disputes.

Going forward, 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 emerging threats in areas such as hate speech and cybersecurity, he said. As 4 ASEAN member States rank among the 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change, it is also important for the two entities to strengthen ties and take urgent action.

Also addressing the Council was Dato Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN Secretary-General, who said that South-East Asia was able to evolve away from being described as “the Balkans of the region” to a community that provides opportunities for all despite diverse political, economic and social systems. This transformation was achieved through the ASEAN Way, by which member States have committed to peaceful relationships with each other, guided by mutual respect, non-interference and peaceful dispute settlement.

ASEAN has incorporated external Powers into its established rules, notably through accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, enabling the bloc to reap the peace dividend, he said. With a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3 trillion, it accounts for 3.5 per cent of the global economy in nominal terms. With almost 650 million people — half of them under age 35 — and a rapidly growing middle class, it is an attractive market.

A complementarities road map (2020-2025) was adopted in 2019 to promote synergies between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said, also citing humanitarian assistance, prevention and control of infectious diseases and counter-terrorism efforts as among the areas where ASEAN and the United Nations have pursued cooperation. The bloc has also contributed some 5,000 troops to date to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

In the ensuing debate, the two Council members from South-East Asia presented their views, with Indonesia’s delegate observing that the ASEAN Way ended distrust and set off a remarkable cycle of peace and prosperity. ASEAN can address emerging non-traditional security challenges by countering terrorism and violent extremism, cybercrimes and illicit drug trafficking. For its part, Indonesia is working towards establishing a South-East Asian network of women peace negotiators and mediators. “These are just snippets of ASEAN’s role in maintaining peace and security. It is no coincidence that, for the past 53 years, guns have fallen silent in South-East Asia,” he said.

The representative Viet Nam, Council President for January and Chair of ASEAN in 2020, speaking in his national capacity, said that the regional bloc’s long experiences in shaping norms should be shared to inspire and reinforce peaceful and friendly relations in various corners of the world. “Successful stories of ASEAN could complement efforts of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security,” he said, calling for Council support to enhance ASEAN members’ participation in peacekeeping operations.

Several speakers, expressing concern about the plight of the Rohingya, urged the Government of Myanmar to create the conditions for their safe, voluntary and dignified return, provide justice to victims and hold the perpetrators of rights violations to account. They also encouraged ASEAN and China to form a code of conduct to manage South China Sea maritime and territorial disputes, with the United States’ representative asserting that China’s provocative behaviour raises serious doubts about its intentions to agree to an effective code.

China’s delegate said that his country has always supported navigational and oversight freedom and it is worrying that the United States, under such a pretext, sent military ships to the Sea — a provocative act that represents the biggest security risk in the area. While China is a firm defender of regional peace, the United States has hundreds of military bases around the world and has deployed hundreds of thousands of military forces outside its territory.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said that using today’s meeting to propose a vision for regional dispute resolution based on narrow national interests is unacceptable, particularly by States located many thousands of miles away. There is likewise no value in raising the Rohingya issue, which should be resolved bilaterally, he added.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Germany, Tunisia, Belgium, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, France, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom and Estonia.

The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 5:22 p.m.

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