Following are UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at the seventh Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations Summit, in Kuala Lumpur today:
I am honoured to join you. 2015 is a momentous year for the United Nations, ASEAN and our partnership. The world has now adopted visionary Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty by 2030. In just eight days, the Climate Change Conference will open in Paris to adopt a meaningful new agreement.
ASEAN is becoming one community. These hopeful events come at a time of grave global threats. Violent extremism and terrorism destabilize countries and regions. The world still faces atrocious human rights abuses, including against women and girls. Conflict, poverty and a sense of hopelessness have driven record numbers of people from their homes.
Today I will discuss how the United Nations and ASEAN can act for our common future. I will speak about three areas for even stronger cooperation: sustainable development, climate change and human rights.
World leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals following the largest consultation in the history of the United Nations. South-East Asia helped build this historic agenda.
This morning, I witnessed the signing of the inspiring ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Congratulations on this achievement. The Vision 2025 should be carried out in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goals. Action should be complementary to transform the lives of millions of people living in poverty.
The United Nations expects each and every Member State to implement the Sustainable Development Goals through all possible domestic measures — legislative, administrative or economic development plans. This is fully in line with the ASEAN Community Vision. I applaud its goal of fostering a truly people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN.
There can be no sustainable development without climate action. I have been sounding the alarm since my first day in office. Now the world has a chance to steer towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
The Paris Climate Change Conference has already generated enormous momentum. More than 166 countries, including a majority of those in South-East Asia, have submitted national climate plans. Their targets would keep temperature rise to 3°C.
I applaud this progress — but we need to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.
We need four elements to succeed in Paris: durability, flexibility, solidarity and credibility. Paris must provide a long-term vision. The agreement must provide flexibility. It should balance the leadership role of developed countries and the responsibility of developing countries. Solidarity means fulfilling pledges and providing sufficient resources to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable can adapt. And credibility demands measuring, monitoring and reporting progress.
I call on ASEAN leaders to play a major role in supporting global climate action. Your countries are facing significant environmental stress — but they can potentially realize massive benefits of a low-carbon economy. Tell your negotiators to compromise for consensus. Look beyond national horizons and work in the common interest for our planet and all people.
Development and climate action will help foster global stability. So will the protection of human rights. A people-centred approach — which ASEAN advocates — demands an end to discrimination. This is especially true for the world’s more than 60 million people who have been forced to flee their homes.
Next year’s World Humanitarian Summit will be an important milestone. It should generate strong global support for bold changes in humanitarian action. I call on all ASEAN countries to engage in the preparations now — and to participate at the highest level in Istanbul next May.
In September 2016, one day before the opening of the general debate, I propose to convene a high-level summit on managing large-scale movements of migrants and refugees.
Many are fleeing from terrorism and oppression. The United Nations stands with the victims. And we are doing everything possible to prevent and address conflicts caused by violent extremism. I am preparing a comprehensive plan of action to prevent violent extremism — to present to the General Assembly early next year.
Human rights drive democracy and stability. Across South-East Asia, open democracies, human rights for all people — including minorities and women — and sustainable development will unleash the region’s great potential.
I welcome the many advances in recent years.
Myanmar has just peacefully conducted historic elections on 8 November. I have congratulated President Thein Sein and the people of Myanmar. The high turnout and peaceful atmosphere were a credit to the leadership. A smooth transition of power will show the enduring strength of democracy. The United Nations is ready to support Myanmar as it consolidates progress.
While welcoming regional advances, it is important to confront tensions. On the competing claims in the South China Sea, I have consistently said all parties should exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law.
ASEAN countries have valuable experience that can help the world. I encourage you to share your knowledge with other regional organizations and the international community. I am confident we will continue expanding our engagement next year under the chairmanship of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Together, we can build a better future.