H.E. SYED MOHD HASRIN AIDID
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
ON BEHALF OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS (ASEAN)
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE THIRD COMMITTEE
OF THE 75TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 5 OCTOBER 2020
On behalf of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), allow me to convey our congratulations to You, Excellency Katalin Bogyay, for assuming responsibility as Chair of the Third Committee for the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as to the rest of the Bureau.
2. It is my great pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the Member States of ASEAN, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and my country, Malaysia.
3. The world has been facing a pandemic of global scale. No country or community is spared. ASEAN recognises this health crisis having unparalleled adverse impacts and consequences. Besides the loss of life, the pandemic has further exacerbated existing conditions, creating the perfect storm of multiple crises encompassing political, economic, social and environmental challenges.
4. During this challenging time, ASEAN is focused on further strengthening cooperation and advancing our partnerships to ensure resilience and sustainable development towards achieving a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible and a truly rules-based, people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN. The ASEAN Leaders adopted the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease this year, affirming the whole-of ASEAN approach in our response to the pandemic and its adverse impacts.
5. While we recognise the multi-faceted impacts of the pandemic, ASEAN’s statement today will, in particular, focus on Social Development, the Right of the Child and Transnational Crime/Crime Prevention, Cybercrime and Drugs.
6. The pandemic may have caused a slight pause in the progress in fulfilling our vision of building a cohesive, equitable and harmonious community. However, ASEAN’s commitment and resolve has only heightened, as we remain ambitious in achieving our social development agenda as enshrined in the ASEAN Vision 2025, Declaration of ASEAN Concord 1 (1976), Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (2003) and the Hanoi Plan of Action.
7. ASEAN’s social welfare and development agenda is also guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG).
8. We continue to believe that our people are the core and the key to regional development. In this regard, ASEAN has been steadfast in its efforts to reducing barriers faced by those most vulnerable, including the youth, the elderly, women and girls, and persons with disabilities, to promote and protect their rights, and ensure inclusivity for all, despite the impacts of the pandemic. We also recognize the differentiated and disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on these vulnerable groups and the pressing need to guarantee their protection and to promote their welfare while safeguarding their rights and dignity.
9. In this regard, ASEAN remains committed to intensifying regional cooperation to support actions at all levels that places the vulnerable groups at the centre of all COVID-19 response and recovery measures. Our Ministers have identified measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, facilitate speedy recovery, and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable groups. As outlined in the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development “Mitigating Impacts of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Groups in ASEAN” of 10 June 2020, these measures include, inter-alia; facilitating access to social protection, protecting the rights, safety and dignity of the peoples of ASEAN, securing the health and safety of social workers at all levels, strengthening national inter-agency cooperation and regional cross-sectoral cooperation, development of a comprehensive and integrated pandemic recovery as well as continuity plans that are disability inclusive, gender-responsive, age-sensitive and promotes social solidarity, striving to leverage on technology and recognising the need to address the digital divide across ASEAN. The implementation of all these measures would be in accordance to the national laws of ASEAN Member States and in close consultation with and meaningful participation of vulnerable groups and relevant stakeholders.
10. The relevant ASEAN Ministerial bodies are also working closely together in ensuring the full implementation of the Regional Framework and Action Plan on Implementing the ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection and the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence Against Children towards ensuring protection, inclusion and resilience of vulnerable groups in the region. We strongly believe, how we work in unity during these challenging times is central to achieving regional prosperity for the future. Hence, we will continue to further invest in the well-being of our people for ASEAN’s inclusive progress, peace and transformational growth.
Rights of the Child
11. Turning to the rights of the child, ASEAN reaffirms its commitment to advancing the rights of children, including the protection of children from all forms of exploitation and abuse. We take note the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report A/75/307 on the rights of the child and on the implementation of the CRC. ASEAN Member States have signed and ratified the Convention and have adopted national and regional framework mechanisms to ensure respect for a full range of children’s rights.
12. Seeking to enhance the protection of children’s rights, ASEAN continues to engage with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children. We continue to make steady progress in the implementation of the 2016-2025 ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Children.
13. In February 2020, ASEAN held the first ASEAN Regional Conference on Child Online Protection that included participation from United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic experts and the private sector. The Conference focused on the sharing of good practices, identifying solutions, and enhancing mechanisms that would reinforce online protections for children.
14. ASEAN remains committed to strengthening legal frameworks on child rights across relevant sectors, including preventing violence against children as well as protecting children’s rights to education, health and other basic services. We seek to accelerate these efforts by removing barriers that hinder equity and inclusion across all child rights sectors, while we focus on generating data and utilizing evidence-based approaches.
15. At the same time, ASEAN seeks to strengthen the monitoring of SDGs, including on prevalence of violence against children as well as effects of climate and environmental impacts on children. Furthermore, ASEAN is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of children as enshrined in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025; as well as seek to increase coverage of quality services in all ASEAN Member States by strengthening national policies and programs.
16. ASEAN is focused on increasing social investments to lift children out of poverty by continuing to promote economic growth and our regional development. ASEAN will continue to work closely with UNICEF and other UN bodies, including the private sector, as well as non-government organizations (NGOs), to reinforce regional cooperation and strengthen the programs that promote the rights of children in our region and beyond.
17. The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) continues to play an instrumental role in formulating regional guidelines with a view to eliminate trafficking in children, child labor, child marriage, exploitation of children online as well as school and cyber bullying. This year marks the 10th year anniversary of the ACWC which will be celebrated later this year in November in Viet Nam. The commemoration will include the unveiling of the ACWC’s 2021-2025 Work Plan, a regional dialogue on children bullying and abuse at schools and online, as well as the launch of a project entitled “Legal Identity of All Women and Children in ASEAN: A Regional Synthesis.” Earlier in June this year, the ACWC held a special online meeting on Protective and Preventive Measures for Women and Children at Risk of Domestic Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Transnational Crime/Crime Prevention, Cybercrime and Drugs
18. ASEAN is aware that, although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries to close their borders, transnational crime knows no borders. As our people increasingly turn to digital technology in their daily lives, so have criminal elements. At the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on 9 Sept 2020, the Ministers noted with great concern that criminal groups have taken advantage of the socio-economic impact of the pandemic to exploit vulnerable groups. In this regard, ASEAN is deeply committed to protecting our regional and global community against transnational crime and extremism. We recognize that it is only through close cooperation with our friends and neighbors that we can effectively protect our people in this time of crisis.
19. To further this commitment, ASEAN continues to convene the Annual Ministerial Meetings on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) to coordinate, at the highest level, to regionally respond to transnational crimes such as human trafficking, terrorism, cybercrime and drug trafficking. In the past year, ASEAN has continued to work closely together on the implementation of the ASEAN Plan of Action in Combating Transnational Crime (2016-2025). The Work Programme from 2019-2021 to implement the Plan of Action aims to continue developing regional capacity to respond to terrorism and transnational crime threats.
20. As UNODC reported in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in the number of people vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers. Therefore, ASEAN continues to make progress in the implementation of the Bohol Trafficking in Persons Work Plan (2017 – 2020).
21. To combat the ever-present threat of extremism and terrorism, ASEAN adopted the Work Plan of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism (2019 – 2025) in Nov 2019. Better known as the Bali Work Plan, it provides an implementation framework to synergize cross-sectoral and cross-pillar collaboration to prevent and counter radicalization and extremism.
22. Cybercrime is on the rise as the world becomes increasingly digitalized. The pandemic has only accelerated this trend. With organizations rapidly deploying remote systems to support staff working from home, and many more transactions conducted online, criminals are taking advantage of these increased vulnerabilities. ASEAN recognizes how imperative it is to collaborate and cooperate to improve our cyber capabilities to combat cybercrime.
23. In this regard, and building on shared best practices by law enforcement agencies across ASEAN, the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Development Project has entered its second phase, focusing on cybercrime strategy development, specialized cybercrime and digital evidence. The Project aims to help ASEAN countries develop and enhance their national cybercrime strategies, leading to a more efficient and effective cybercrime response. The ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) launched in 2019 complements existing ASEAN efforts in cybersecurity capacity building.
24. A few weeks ago (on 21-22 Sept 2020), ASEAN held an East Asia Summit Cyber Capacity Building Workshop titled “Regional Cyber Capacity Building: Seizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution” to further enhance cooperation on regional capacity building and strengthen the region’s cyber security resilience.
25. ASEAN stands resolutely against the legalization of illicit drugs for non-medical and non-scientific use. Illicit drugs are harmful and impose heavy costs to the individual, their families and society at large.
26. In May 2020, UNODC warned that drug production and trafficking in the East and Southeast Asia region has grown unabated and uncontrolled. Amidst national lockdowns and closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organized criminal groups have rapidly adapted their modus operandi and expanded the drug market. There has also been an increase in the online drug trade and increased demand for illicit drugs, which could intensify drug trafficking activities.
27. The ASEAN Work Plan in Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs (2016 – 2025) plays a key role in ASEAN’s fight against the world drug problem and ASEAN’s vision for a drug free society. The first internal review of the work plan highlighted a successful implementation rate of 79%. In addition, the ASEAN Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle (2017- 2019) has been extended to 2020 – 2022. This Cooperation Plan targets the interdiction of drug and precursor trafficking from the Golden Triangle into the ASEAN region.
28. ASEAN’s determination to combat the world drug problem at all levels and in all forms is further reflected in our regional cooperation mechanisms. The ASEAN Airport Interdiction Task Force and the ASEAN Seaport Interdiction Task Force coordinates the operations of each member state’s law enforcement agencies to disrupt the flow of drugs across our borders, whether by air or sea. The ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Centre and the ASEAN Drug Monitoring Network further plays a vital role in information sharing and drug surveillance in the region.
29. The international community must work together in solidarity to advance socio- economic development, protect and promote the rights of children as well as in making the region and the world a safer place from criminal elements. We face all these challenges together, at a time where our national resources are being stretched and preoccupied with combating the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly believe that only through decisive regional and international collaboration, we will be able to weather through this storm of multiple crises and build a better future.
30. ASEAN remains committed to strengthening regional and international cooperation, in close cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies, external partners and the international community in addressing these issues and in the global efforts to put an end to the pandemic as we work towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.
31. Finally, on behalf of ASEAN Member States, I wish to assure you of our commitment and readiness to take part proactively in the deliberations of the Third Committee at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
I thank you.