Guterres lauds ASEAN role in ‘building bridges of understanding’

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Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 8th Sept. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said that Southeast Asia is fulfilling a “vital role in building bridges of understanding” globally after rising geopolitical tension.

Mr. Guterres was speaking in Jakarta at the opening of the ASEAN-UN Summit, addressed Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and declared “our partnership is more important than ever.”

He stressed that the international community faces tests “as far as the eye can see from the climate emergency to a global cost-of-living crisis to raging conflicts to growing poverty, hunger, and inequalities.”

Guterres said ASEAN’s bridge building role was needed “in a world that is increasingly multipolar and that requires strong multilateral institutions to go with it based on equity, solidarity, and universality.”

He said he was grateful for the ASEAN bloc of ten nations’ “steadfast support for multilateral solutions.”

SG noted that there are over 5,000 peacekeepers deployed from ASEAN countries and a Community Vision plan in place taking the region to 2045.

He noted ASEAN’s convening power in a region that represents “the most dramatic divisions in today’s world”.

ASEAN’s “commitment to dialogue and experience in conflict prevention are crucial pillars of stability”, he added.

He praised Member States for the constructive diplomatic efforts being made from the Korean Peninsula to the South China Sea in line with international law.

Mr. Guterres said “Brutal violence, worsening poverty, and systematic repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy in Myanmar.”

He described the situation as simply “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”, he told delegates.

He voiced his appreciation for ASEAN’s principled approach and reiterated the UN’s call for a unified strategy to end the suffering across Myanmar.

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

On the climate crisis, he said the human-driven “assault against the planet”, and noted that ASEAN States were among the most biodiverse in the world, and the most vulnerable to disasters.

He said there’s still time to limit the worst impacts of climate change and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement limiting global warming.

Guterres said ASEAN was “uniquely positioned” to be a leader in global, sustainable, just, inclusive and equitable energy transition.

He called for greater ambition with support, repeating his call for developing countries to honour their commitments to developing nations.

Guterres called for greater action in Southeast Asia to realise the SDGs including an SDG Stimulus of $500 billion a year.

“I count on ASEAN member States to help raise global ambition in the vital months ahead”, he said.

“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.”

He made clear the world needs “cooperation on all fronts” to create a better future for all at the press conference in Jakarta:

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