The vital role of ASEAN

ASEAN’s convening power, commitment to dialogue and experience in conflict prevention are crucial pillars of stability.

The ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership is more important than ever.

We face tests as far as the eye can see — from the climate emergency to a global cost-of-living crisis, raging conflicts and growing poverty, hunger, and inequalities.

All these challenges are aggravated by rising geopolitical tensions.

There is a real risk of fragmentation — of a Great Fracture in world economic and financial systems, with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence and conflicting security frameworks.

I commend ASEAN for your vital role in building bridges of understanding all over the world.

ASEAN has played an extremely important role as a center that convenes all those that, unfortunately, represent the most dramatic divisions in today’s world and these series of summits is a demonstration of that fundamental convening role of ASEAN.

And we need it in a world that is increasingly multipolar and that requires strong multilateral institutions to go with it — based on equity, solidarity and universality.

I am grateful for your steadfast support for multilateral solutions and your contribution of over 5,000 peacekeepers from ASEAN countries.

ASEAN’s convening power, commitment to dialogue and experience in conflict prevention are crucial pillars of stability.

Today, tensions remain high from the Korean Peninsula to the South China Sea.

I am grateful to ASEAN member states for your pursuit of dialogue and peaceful dispute resolution, rooted in the respect for international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Since we gathered last year, the situation in Myanmar has further deteriorated. Brutal violence, worsening poverty and systematic repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy.

The conflict is exacerbating existing inequalities and vulnerabilities faced by women and girls, including sexual violence, forced marriage and human trafficking.

More and more people are crossing borders in a desperate search for safety and protection and the situation is untenable.

Over one million Rohingya remain in Bangladesh, in the world’s largest refugee camp. And, regrettably, the conditions for their safe, voluntary and dignified return are not yet in sight. Much more is needed.

My call to the military authorities of Myanmar is clear: Free all detained leaders and political prisoners; open the door toward the full restoration of democratic rule.

We must also end our assault against the planet.

ASEAN ranks amongst the most biodiversity-rich regions — and is highly vulnerable to natural disasters.

We can still limit the worst impacts and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

ASEAN is uniquely positioned to be a leader of an energy transition that is global, sustainable, just, inclusive and equitable.

I commend ASEAN member states that are pioneering Just Energy Transition Partnerships like Indonesia and Viet Nam. And I commend all who are accelerating the phaseout of coal and jumpstarting a fair and inclusive renewables revolution.

But greater ambition is needed still — along with much greater support.

Developed countries must finally deliver on their commitments to developing countries.

Resources are also central to rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals.

I have called for deep and structural changes to make global frameworks — including the Bretton Woods system — more representative of today’s economic and political realities and also more responsive.

Such change will not happen overnight — and I have proposed concrete steps we can take now, including an SDG Stimulus of US$500 billion a year to the benefit of developing countries for them to be able to reach the Sustainable Goals.

This and other action would catalyze SDG progress and help developing economies invest in key transitions across energy, food systems, digital, education, health, decent jobs and social protection.

I count on ASEAN member states to help raise global ambition in the vital months ahead.

And you can always count on my wholehearted support to shape a future of peace and prosperity for the people of Southeast Asia and the world.



Excerpts from the UN Secretary-General’s remarks at the ASEAN-UN Summit, 7 September 2023.

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