ASEAN Summit 2017 for peaceful, inclusive, resilient, healthy & harmonious society

The World leaders have expressed their strong resolve to promote a culture of prevention for a peaceful, inclusive, resilient, healthy and harmonious society in the world

In this regard, main focus will be kept intact on understanding the root causes and consequences of violent extremism and other forms of violence and deviant behaviours at individual, organisational and institutional levels through risk assessment, research, forecast, early warning and other evidence-based methods.

Furthermore, adopting a mindset change from a reactive to a preventive approach; and  inculcating shared values such as peace, harmony, intercultural understanding, the rule of law, good governance, respect, trust, tolerance, inclusiveness, moderation, social responsibility, and diversity will be paid due attention

Similarly, developing effective upstream preventive policies and initiatives such as transformative social protection, public information, responsible use of media, as well as strengthening the existing value-based education in schools and institutions will also be the key areas of attention of the world leaders.

World leaders including the US President Donald Trump, Chinese Premier Minister Li Keqiang along with heads of the states of member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met at the 31st Summit in Manila and approved ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society.

The agenda of the Summit covered political and security, economic and socio-cultural matters which ASEAN would like to address in order to bring about inclusive, sustainable and equitable development for all peoples of the ASEAN Community.

They also reaffirmed the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the respective blueprints of ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community towards a peaceful, inclusive, resilient, healthy and harmonious society with enhanced capacity to respond to challenges in an effective and timely manner;

World leaders also recognized the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development which desires to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development by reducing all forms of violence.

Acknowledging the priorities of ASEAN, under the Chair of the Philippines in 2017 with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, on strengthening a people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN, peace and stability in the region and ASEAN’s resiliency they reaffirmed shared responsibility to realize a common vision for an inclusive, sustainable, resilient, dynamic and harmonious ASEAN Community.

They also called for closely coordinated approach between ASEAN bodies for the effective implementation of the thrusts identified for a culture of prevention they pressed on fostering a culture of prevention through values-based education as well as lifelong learning, quality basic social services, youth engagement and sports. They also emphasized the important roles of family, community organizations, educational institutions and religious groups to support and promote the six thrusts of a culture of prevention.

The US President Donald Trump avoided confronting President Rodrigo Duterte, at least in public, over his government’s human rights record and the drug-related killings attending his so-called war on drugs, a move sure to disappoint many of the two leaders’ critics hoping for Washington’s demonstration of its commitment to the rule of law and international statutes.

In contrast to Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a hall packed with journalists that he “impressed upon” Duterte Canadian concern over human rights violations especially the extra legal killings Philippine cops were accused of orchestrating. He also offered help to the Philippines in tackling the problem.

True to form, Duterte did not like the Canadian premier’s assertion and blasted Trudeau in a late-night press conference at the end of the summit, saying his comments were an “official and personal insult ” and reiterated that he did not have the obligation to explain his side to foreigners.

Duterte announced that China had committed itself to a code of conduct that would be forged by senior ministers of parties to the dispute following Beijing acquiescence to a framework of the document early this year.

China also assured him that countries would have “unbridled and unfettered” access to the West Philippine Sea, Duterte said. Beijing has recently transformed several previously uninhabitable features in the region into artificial islands capable of hosting military structures and facilities.

The Chinese have also agreed to “fast track” discussions on the code, according to the Philippine leader, who also stressed that no country could afford to go to war these days especially amid the specter of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. Duterte, however, ignores peaceful policy options that uphold the arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines.

ASEAN, the US, Australia and other partners also agreed during the summit to strengthen their defense against terrorism, just weeks after the Philippines was able to free a southern town from the claws of militants inspired by the Islamic State group.

The US and ASEAN have vowed to curtail the threat of terrorism through information sharing and law enforcement cooperation in an effort to prevent the militants from establishing a base in Southeast Asia as they continue to backpedal in the Middle East.

The Philippines and the US also committed to enhance their counter-terrorism cooperation through additional exercises, increased information sharing and tackling of the roots of conflict and extremism.

Southeast Asian nations also reaffirmed their fight against the Islamic State group and took note of the battle in Marawi City which has claimed more than 1,000 lives, most of whom were combatants, and decimated that once-vibrant town.

South Korea warned of “searing” consequences if North Korea doesn’t abandon plans to launch a long-range rocket that critics call a banned test of ballistic missile technology. Trump, ASEAN and East Asian Nations also sought to impose pressure on North Korea for the isolated regime to halt its nuclear and missile weapons program and return to the negotiating table.

Southeast and East Asian nations also condemned the nuclear program of North Korea, with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe campaigning for more pressure for Pyongyang itself to seek dialog while China advocated for more talks.

The nations urged UN member-states to implement and comply with relevant Security Council resolutions that aimed to cripple Pyongyang’s path toward a nuclear missile capable of reaching mainland US.

European Council President Donald Tusk, in his opening remarks during the ASEAN-European Union 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit declared that the EU was working toward a strategic partnership that delves into trade, investment, sectoral, and security cooperation.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres traveled to the Philippines for the first time on a low-key visit to attend the ASEAN-UN Summit. During his meeting where Duterte was absent, Guterres talked about human rights but did not discuss the Philippine war on drugs, the usual source of sour points between Manila and the UN these days.

Aside from Guterres, also in Manila to attend the ASEAN-EU Summit was European Council President Donald Tusk who insisted that developing ties between the two blocs based on human rights was a priority.

Southeast Asian leaders signed a landmark document that would protect the interests and welfare of thousands of migrant workers in the region. Among the provisions of this document were fair treatment for migrant workers, provision of visitation rights for their family, prohibition of confiscation of passports and overcharging of recruitment fees, protection against sexual violence and harassment, respect for fair remuneration and benefits and right to join unions and associations.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Russian Federation Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discussed matters on how the Philippines and Russian Federation can further foster its partnership.

Duterte also announced during the summit Philippine’s willingness to expand trade relations with Russia. In Duterte’s meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow announced that it would continue supporting Manila’s efforts to combat terrorism and to supply weapons to help in maintaining peace and order.

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About Saima Zaman 40 Articles
Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); a degree holder in communication & media sciences.