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Secretary-General Anniversary Message Highlights Key Role of South-East Asian Nations Association in Mitigating Myanmar Crisis, Managing South China Seas

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message, delivered by his Chef de Cabinet, marking the fifty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in New York and online, today:

It’s a pleasure to convey congratulations from myself and the Secretary-General on the fifty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.  Allow me to express my particular appreciation to Cambodia as ASEAN Chair in 2022.  We welcome your efforts to advance a wide range of priorities under the theme of “ASEAN ACT — Addressing Challenges Together”.

Our world faces a range of challenges that are very serious in themselves, and even more alarming in combination.  Countries reeling from economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are being hit by the climate crisis.  Governments struggling with environmental degradation face sky-rocketing prices for food and energy.  From the pandemic, to the climate emergency, to the global repercussions of conflict and continued displacement and inequality, we will only find solutions to these interlinked issues if we act together.

The Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda sets out a vision for reinvigorated, inclusive, networked multilateralism to address these global challenges.  Strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations — including ASEAN — is integral to this approach.  I thank you for your support for the proposals in Our Common Agenda, and count on your further engagement.

Today, as ASEAN celebrates its fifty-fifth anniversary, we also mark over a decade of cooperation under the ASEAN-United Nations Comprehensive Partnership.  Our partnership has demonstrated the value of working together under a framework of broad, multisectoral cooperation:  from conflict prevention to climate action, and from sustainable development to social protection.

I thank ASEAN member States for your contribution of over 4,000 peacekeepers to United Nations peace operations around the world, which includes a growing number of women.  We also greatly appreciate the endorsement of the Secretary‑General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative by all ASEAN member States.

Through its history, ASEAN has also stressed the importance of resolving disputes peacefully through dialogue and fostering mutual respect and understanding.  Today, ASEAN’s role in promoting peace has greater urgency than ever, particularly for the people of Myanmar.  The United Nations remains deeply concerned about the escalating levels of violence and the appalling human rights situation in Myanmar.  We welcome ASEAN’s diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.  I would also like to express thanks for the close cooperation between the Special Envoys appointed by the United Nations and ASEAN.  Their complementary roles remain essential to achieve the urgent implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.  The United Nations and ASEAN must stand together in response to this crisis.

I also encourage ASEAN’s efforts on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.  This would be an important contribution from ASEAN towards a stable and secure future for the region.

In these turbulent times, it is heartening that ASEAN remains committed to implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  These complementary agendas are an investment in peace, prosperity and a healthy planet with a liveable climate.  You can count on the full support of the United Nations for all your efforts to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, including through a clear focus on mainstreaming human rights, gender equality and climate action.

I congratulate you once again on this fifty-fifth anniversary, and thank you for your commitment to a strong ASEAN-UN partnership.  The United Nations stands ready to work with ASEAN as we continue our efforts for global and regional peace, prosperity, human rights and sustainable development for all.

For information media. Not an official record.