03.08.2021, 09:38

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet To Boost Cooperation Amid Challenges

ASEAN Foreign Ministers (AMM) convene their 54th meeting. Alongside the 54th AMM, the ministers will meet with ASEAN dialogue partners.

Senior ASEAN officials have met to prepare for the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. (Photo: VOV)

ASEAN Foreign Ministers are to convene their 54th meeting (AMM) and related meetings with ASEAN dialogue partners via teleconference on August 2 to address rising challenges in the region.

Alongside the 54th AMM, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers will meet with ASEAN dialogue partners. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son will join other ministers to attend these meetings.

The 54th AMM hosted by Brunei takes place at a time when Southeast Asia is struggling to cope with the ravaging fresh Covid-19 outbreak, political complications in Myanmar, and the increased competition of influence from great powers, according to VOV.

The meeting will review ASEAN’s community-building efforts, and examine ways to promote regional cooperation and the bloc’s centrality. It will exchange views on ASEAN’s Covid-19 response to set a course for the region’s post-pandemic recovery, in line with Brunei’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme of “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet To Boost Cooperation Amid Challenges

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. (Photo: VNA)

ASEAN to promote Covid-19 vaccine production, technology transfer

While in attendance at their 54th meeting, the ministers expressed their grave concerns about the current Covid-19 outbreak throughout the region and stressed the need to ramp up the vaccination strategy, considering it to be key to responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welcoming contributions to the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund by ASEAN and its partners, the ministers called for the urgent implementation of the Action Plan for ASEAN Vaccine Security and Self-Reliance, the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies, and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son suggested quickly spending 10.5 million USD earmarked from the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines while speaking at the 29th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting on the same day, according to VOV. Son urged the grouping to further support disadvantaged areas, including the Mekong Sub-region, in its efforts to narrow the increasing development gap due to Covid-19.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers at the 54th meeting. (Photo: Baoquocte)

New dialogue partnership established

With regard to external relations, the ministers discussed measures to strengthen and deepen relations between ASEAN and its partners, upholding the bloc’s centrality and affirming the value of ASEAN-led mechanisms in promoting dialogue, cooperation, active participation, and contributions by partners to peace, security, and development throughout the region.

They agreed to establish a dialogue partnership with the UK and a sectoral dialogue partnership with Brazil. They welcomed and approved the proposal to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by the Netherlands, Greece, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Denmark.

Photo: Baoquocte

UNCLOS importance reaffirmed

The ministers also spent plenty of time exchanging views on a variety of regional and international issues of common concern, including those in the South China Sea (known locally as the Bien Dong Sea), the Korean Peninsula, and the Middle East.

Amid ongoing complicated developments in theSouth China Sea, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the waters, VOV cited.

They reaffirmed their consistent stance on resolving disputes through peaceful means on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), while calling on concerned parties to exercise self-restraint, not to militarise, and not to threaten the use of force in the region.

The meeting reiterated the importance of full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and welcomed the resumption of negotiations on a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters between ASEAN and China. It emphasized the need to maintain a favorable environment for COC negotiations and to continue efforts towards achieving an effective and substantive COC in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982.

Ambassador Nguyen Thai Yen Huong (Middle). (Photo: Baoquocte)

Cooperation boosted in human rights

Representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) took place virtually on August 2 within the framework of AMM-54. At the event, a representative of Brunei, the Chair of AICHR in 2021, informed participants on the commission’s operations in a one year time from July 2020 to July 2021, VNA cited.

The report underlined efforts made by the AICHR in responding to the adverse impacts of Covid-19 via the implementation of the Five Year Work Plan 2021-2025 and activities in the 2021 Priority Programmes. In the year, the AICHR has stepped up cooperation in the areas of right to health, human rights in economic activities, humanitarian aid, environment, and climate change, rights of the vulnerable groups like migrant workers, women, and children in the context of Covid-19.

Ambassador Nguyen Thai Yen Huong, Vietnam’s Representative at the AICHR, emphasized that the AICHR should focus on meeting urgent, essential, and fundamental demands of people like vaccine access, food security, and clean water, along with education and employment, among others.

The ministers spoke highly of the AICHR’s efforts. They also called on the commission to bolster collaboration with ASEAN agencies and partners to integrate human rights in the implementation of the ACRF and other initiatives of ASEAN.

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Valerie Mai