Secretary-General of United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres promised that the UN is ready to assist the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its battle against terrorism and crime.
“The United Nations stands ready to provide technical support to ASEAN and its member countries in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking and people trafficking, through policies able to protect their citizens with effective law enforcement and respect and human rights,” Guterres said as he delivered his remarks at the 9th ASEAN-UN Summit in November 13.
He said that he was ‘extremely concerned’ with the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, which the Southeast Asian region is not spared from. He stressed that the UN is prioritizing its support for the national and regional efforts against this threat, which includes the establishment of a UN Office of Counter-Terrorism.
“We welcome the adoption of the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, and its recognition of the importance of comprehensive approaches and preventive action,” he added.
Guterres proceeded on praising the ASEAN and its member states for its efforts in ending conflicts and its commitment to peace by participating in UN peace operations.
Apart from congratulating the Philippines as the ASEAN Chair, he also praised the country for the end of the 153-day-siege in the battle-torn city of Marawi.
“I commend your efforts towards peace over many years, with the support of other ASEAN countries and civil society. And I am heartened by the recent liberation of Marawi from ISIS,” he said.
The Secretary-General went on by saying that a continued cooperation between the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia will further strengthen regional peace and security.
Guterres was particular in highlighting cooperation among the diversity of the member countries especially in times of crises – as he mentioned a bit of history. “The five men who signed the founding ASEAN declaration were two Muslims from Indonesia and Malaysia, a Christian from the Philippines, a Hindu from Singapore, and a Buddhist from Thailand,” he narrated.
According to him, the five decades of ASEAN’s “remarkable diversity” has made it “an indispensable partner in ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity” not only in Southeast Asia but beyond.
He mentioned different issues in his speech which included globalization in terms of economy and social inequality, climate change, and natural disasters. He also touched topics on the death of soldiers and military forces in UN missions around the world, and the refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh.