ASEAN Leaders at their Ninth Summit on 7 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II), which stipulated the establishment of the ASEAN Community resting on three pillars, namely, an ASEAN Security Community (ASC), an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). In view of the closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing nature of these three pillars, they have been developed and being implemented in a parallel and balanced manner for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.
2. ASEAN recognizes the strong inter-connections among political, economic and social realities, and its plan of action to realize the ASC acknowledges the principle of comprehensive security, and commits to address the broad political, economic, social and cultural aspects of building an ASEAN Community. It also acknowledges that political and social stability, economic prosperity, narrowed development gap, poverty alleviation and reduction of social disparity would constitute strong foundation for a sustained ASC given its subscription to the principle of comprehensive security. The ASCC, on the other hand, would be a community of caring societies where the development and enhancement of human resources is a key strategy for employment generation, alleviating poverty and socio-economic disparities, and ensuring economic growth with equity.
3. The threats to security in the ASEAN region, on the whole, remain to be poverty, transnational health threats/infectious diseases, environmental degradation and natural disasters, and transnational crime. Poverty and its consequences need no elaboration. Transnational health threats include HIV and AIDS, SARS, and Avian Influenza (AI). Threats from environmental degradation are deforestation and over-exploitation of natural resources for economic development; air, water, solid waste and toxic waste pollutions as a result of increasing industrialization; while natural disasters include those due to climate change like floods and droughts, and the rare but highly disastrous tsunami, and man-made disasters such as forest fires and the resulting haze. Transnational crimes include terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, money laundering, and other crimes such as arms smuggling, sea piracy, international economic crime and cyber crime
(a) Regional Situation
4. Poverty is a traditional threat to human security that evolves with mankind itself. As commonly recognized, poverty is insecurity in its wholesome. As stated in the rationale section of the concept paper of this Conference…“poverty leads to human insecurity by limiting people’s chances of obtaining higher education, better jobs and increased income. Deprived of opportunities to ensure a secure future for themselves and their families, individuals become more vulnerable and at risk of being lured into the network of transnational organized crime and terrorism…. Poverty is also a contributing factor to human and drug trafficking that are threats to individual, national, regional and global security.” With regard to education, in many cases, extreme poverty deprives an individual even of basic education. Poverty is also the major hindrance for an individual to have access to basic and proper health care.
5. Excluding Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, the percentage of population surviving below the respective national poverty lines ranges from 5.1% in Malaysia (2001) to as high as 38.9% in Lao PDR (1997). When based on purchasing power parity (PPP) below 1USD and 2 USD, the percentages range from <2% and 9.3%, respectively, in Malaysia (2001) to 34.1% and 77.7%, respectively in Cambodia (1999) (Table 1). Brunei Darussalam has no definite national poverty line and Singapore does not have an explicit national poverty line or definition of the ‘poor’. By Human Development Index (HDI), based on UNDP’s Human Development Report of 2004, out of 177 countries, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam fell into Group 1: High Human Development; Malaysia and Thailand in Group 2: Upper Medium Human Development; the Philippines, Indonesia and Viet Nam in Group 3: Medium Human Development; and Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR in Group 4: Lower Medium Human Development.
(b) Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
6. Poverty alleviation, equity and human development lie at the core of a strong and resilient ASEAN Community. These are also principles underscored in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. ASEAN Member Countries are part of the global compact formed by the Millennium Declaration which laid out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ASEAN Leaders have affirmed their commitment to work together to achieve the MDGs, emphasizing partnerships and mutual support. ASEAN Member Countries have taken the initiative to form an ASEAN Millennium Development Compact, to support on-going efforts in the region to achieve the MDGs and link to ASEAN community-building. Less developed ASEAN members can learn a lot from the experience of the more developed ones in dramatically reducing poverty and improving their human development status relating to the MDGs during the past two and half decades.
7. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger is the first of the eight MDGs. In 1990, over 1.2 billion people, representing 28% of the developing world’s population, lived in extreme poverty, based on poverty threshold of 1 USD per day PPP. The MDGs target is to halve this proportion to 14% by 2015. By 2001, it went down to 21%. Most of the people lifted out of poverty during this period lived in Asia (around 250 million), particularly in East Asia where poverty incidence declined by almost half from 33.0% to 16.6%, and in South-eastern Asia from 19.6% to 10.2%.
8. As a whole, Asia and Pacific region is expected to meet the poverty reduction target by 2015. East Asia already achieved the target in 2001, while both Southeast and South Asia are assessed to be on track to meet the target. However, despite the relatively better performance of Asia and the Pacific, it continues to have the largest number of poor people, estimated at 700 million in 2001, representing about two-thirds of the world’s poor.
9. Among ASEAN Member Countries, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam are certainly in the league of rich countries in terms of GDP per capita in PPP US dollars. The former’s and the latter’s GDP in 2002 were USD 24,000 and USD 19,000, respectively. These two countries do not produce poverty statistics in the absence of an official definition of poverty. Nonetheless, Singapore has a programme for the “needy” and Brunei Darussalam provides monthly allowances to about 4,000 people living in “hardship”. These disadvantaged groups are single mothers, widows, orphans, and very ill persons who have no source of income for their daily needs.
10. Both Malaysia and Thailand have already met their poverty reduction targets. Poverty has been dramatically reduced essentially as a result of more than two decades of sustained economic growth. Malaysia achieved the target of halving poverty in 2002, when its poverty incidence was brought down to less than 10%. It now aims to fully eradicate extreme poverty by 2010, which is at the end of the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Based on a new national poverty line, poverty incidence in Thailand has been reduced from 38% in 1990 to 12% in 2004, although socio-economic disparities remain between Metropolitan Bangkok and the rest of the country.
11. The Philippines had a boom and bust economic performance over the past two decades. Thus, despite abundant supply of skilled manpower, the country is still struggling to lift 23.5 million people, representing almost one-third of its population, out of poverty. Nevertheless, the poverty incidence rate of 30% recorded in 2003 is still an improvement over 33% in 2000 and 40% in 1990; and with its nationwide “Linking Arms Against Poverty” programme, the Philippines is cautiously optimistic that the target of 20% can be reached by 2015.
12. Indonesia’s performance in poverty reduction is much more impressive than the Philippines. Like Malaysia and Thailand, Indonesia benefited from two decades of sustained economic growth from 1976 to 1996. During that period, poverty continuously declined from 40% to just over 11% of the population. However, because of the setback from the 1997-98 economic crises, the trend was reversed when poverty incidence increased to 23% in 1999 before it went down again to 18% in 2002 and 17% in 2003. If present trend continues, Indonesia is on track to reach or even exceeds the target of halving poverty incidence from 15% in 1990 to 7.5% by 2015.
13. Viet Nam, like Indonesia, has also dramatically reduced poverty incidence from 58% in 1993 to 32% in 2000 and 27% in 2004, thereby already achieving the target. Viet Nam’s relatively impressive MDGs performance is also closely associated with sustained economic growth since it adopted in 1986 the “renovation policy” towards a market economy.
14. Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR suffer from high or increasing poverty incidence and are off-track with respect to poverty reduction and many other MDGs targets. In Cambodia, poverty incidence declined only slightly from 39% in 1994 to 36% in 1999, despite sustained economic growth during that decade. While the rate is lower in Myanmar, it exhibited an increasing trend from 23% in 1997 to 27% in 2001. In the Lao PDR, the rate of poverty was estimated to be at 48% in 1990. It has been reduced to 39% in 1998, but declined only slightly to 37% for the latest year that data was available.
(c) ASEAN Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (2204-2010)
15. Ever since ASEAN Member Countries started their cooperation in rural development and poverty eradication in 1997, the priority areas of cooperation have been: (1) Facilitating regional networking among governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector, business sector, and research institutions; (2) Sharing of information, best practices, lessons learnt, research capacity, and technical expertise; (3) Developing a regional rural volunteer programme; and (4) Promoting greater public awareness on the need to accelerate rural development and poverty eradication. However, in the face of the challenges of globalization, trade liberalization and regional integration, ASEAN has reviewed and revitalized its cooperation in rural development and poverty eradication, and come up with a Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (2004-2010). The Framework Action Plan is based on ASEAN’s vision to eradicate poverty, placing emphasis on promoting the development of progressive, prosperous and self-reliant rural communities towards creating a caring society in its Member Countries. The Plan includes new priorities, namely: Globalization; Narrowing the Digital Divide – promoting the use of ICT as a tool; Social Protection; Employment and Income-generation; Partnerships, Decentralization and Local Participation; Narrowing the Development Gap; and others – including voluntary movement for rural development, possible exchange programme of young professionals dealing in rural development and poverty eradication and public information.
16. These priorities would address ASEAN’s call for: (1) Innovative and holistic strategies to facilitate access of the rural and urban poor to public utilities and facilities; (2) Providing a conducive environment for income-generation and employment opportunities for the poor, as well as assistance to link small rural economies to markets; and (3) Building capacity and occupational skills of the rural people and urban poor, especially in the area of information and communication technology. To move forward regional cooperation more effectively, ASEAN would take into consideration the need to engage relevant partners from both within and outside ASEAN to jointly implement activities of mutual interest, and to use, where possible, cost-sharing mechanisms in implementing priority projects.
III. THREATS TO HEALTH
(a) Current Situation
17. Globalization, increased international travel, urbanization, changing sexual habits, poor water quality, and invasion of human into natural areas containing lethal pathogens facilitate the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Most common infectious diseases that pose serious threats to the ASEAN region are HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue. In recent years, ASEAN faces the urgent need to prevent, control and respond effectively to emerging infectious diseases of zoonotic or animal origins. In 2003, ASEAN faced and managed to overcome the threat of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), but almost immediately after, another zoonotic disease, the Avian Influenza (AI), presented a graver threat to the region.
18. According to UNAIDS estimates, there are around 1.6 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in the ASEAN region (end-2003 high estimate is 1.9 million). This number is increasing rapidly through risky behaviors exacerbated by economic, social, political and legal obstacles, as well as harmful attitudes and customary practices. The epidemics are largely centred among key vulnerable populations, i.e. sex workers and their clients, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, and certain mobile populations. Particularly vulnerable are women and young people. HIV transmission in ASEAN Member Countries ranges from slow transmission and early epidemic in some countries, to more than 1% of the adult population being infected in others.
19. The SARS outbreak, which gained momentum in April 2003, caused adverse social and economic impacts in many countries in the ASEAN region. It posed challenges to international public health, threatened regional and global prosperity, confidence and stability. The epidemic highlighted the need for more effective and coordinated response, particularly at the regional level, to any outbreaks or new (emerging) or known, but previously controlled (resurging) infections. Through coordinated approach undertaken by Member Countries, together with the WHO, ASEAN managed to combat the spread of the disease and is now a SARS-Free region. Prevention and control measures included: (1) public health strategies of detection, isolation and containment; (2) provision of timely and accurate information; (3) public-private sector collaboration and networking; and (4) social protection strategies for affected individuals and industries.
20. However, the SARS transited into AI or bird flu in late 2003. It has caused tremendous losses to the poultry industry and posed a threat to public health, especially in the Asia region. With a possible potential for the H5N1 virus (Hemagglutinin-5 Neuroaminidase-1) to transform into a strain that can be transferred from human-to-human, it has also created a panic in various other regions all over the world over a potential human influenza pandemic. By UN categorization, except for Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines and Singapore which have not experienced any outbreak, all other ASEAN Member Countries have experienced outbreaks in poultry, with human fatalities in some, are considered as endemic and high risk countries. To-date, there have been a total 191 cases of human infections globally, with 109 fatalities. Out of this number, 66 fatalities were in two of ASEAN Member Countries alone (i.e Viet Nam – 42 deaths, Indonesia – 24 deaths).
(b) ASEAN Efforts in Combating HIV/AIDS and AI
21. As mentioned above, the AIDS epidemics in ASEAN Member Countries are at different stages, and it is recognized that a variety of responses and interventions are required. It is also recognized that the opportunity currently exists to halt the progress of the epidemic in the ASEAN region through scaling-up effective HIV prevention and care programme. ASEAN Member Countries agree that prevention is the key to combating HIV/AIDS. These range from policy advocacy on HIV prevention and AIDS treatment to technical and financial support for impact alleviation responses in addressing the inevitable burden on the health and socio-economic sectors.
22. At the same time, ASEAN recognizes the benefits of a regional approach to HIV and AIDS prevention. A regional approach takes into account that AIDS does not recognize national boundaries and, as a result, policies and some interventions need to transcend boundaries if the region is to succeed in reducing the spread of this illness. While country-specific programmes remain the most effective response to the epidemic, a regional approach can more effectively address trans-boundary issues for which inter-country responses have comparative advantage over national approaches. It also has the benefit of cost-effectiveness. Examples are ASEAN Member Countries’ joint efforts to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of the necessary drugs and reagents used to treat persons living with AIDS and cost-sharing implementation of priority activities among Member Countries such as joint research projects and sharing of educational resources.
23. In 1992, ASEAN Leaders agreed to take a coordinated effort to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS in the region. As a result, the ASEAN Regional Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control (1995-2000) was developed with the assistance of the WHO. A first Medium-Term Work Programme (AWP I) priority areas of cooperation include collaboration with non-health sectors such as labour, youth and education; identifying population movements; assessing family and community support systems; improving HIV surveillance; and involving religious leaders in promoting awareness on AIDS. An ASEAN AIDS Information and Research Reference Network was also established.
24. The AWP I brought to fore several issues which have been addressed in the successor AWP II (2002-2005). These include the need for mobilizing resources more proactively; ensuring that regional activities focus on trans-boundary issues for which a regional approach would have greater comparative advantage; greater involvement of NGOs and civil society in evaluating results; and promoting awareness of the ASEAN Task Force on AIDS (ATFOA) activities to more effectively mobilize support and resources. People living with AIDS provided inputs in developing the 7th ASEAN Summit Declaration on HIV/AIDS and regional programme.
25. While continuing relevant priorities from AWP I, the AWP II implemented new ones relating to emerging issues such as injecting drug use. With the main objective to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and, thereby, reduce the social and economic impact on ASEAN Member Countries, the AWP II activities focused on:
Reducing the rate of HIV transmission in ASEAN Member Countries;
Creating a positive and enabling environment for HIV and AIDS prevention activities;
Strengthening national responses to HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support Member Countries through inter-country activities; and
Strengthening multi-sectoral collaboration and coordination among governments and regional partners, which include international agencies and NGOs, regional networks of people living with AIDS, international donors, and the private sector.
26. The AWP II had contributed to a significant leveraging of political commitment through regional advocacy; more efficient use of regional partners’ technical and financial resource; mobilizing additional resources for national as well as regional activities; more effective collaboration on issues of common concern; and improved access to, and availability of, technical support through the development of regional technical networks.
27. Building on the successes of the AWP II, a strategic framework for AWP III for 2006-2010 was developed in September 2005. The goal of AWP III is to prevent further transmission of HIV and mitigate the impacts of HIV and AIDS by improving regional responses and enhancing Member Countries’ development of people-centred initiatives. Key objectives of the AWP III include:
Leadership development – to increase political commitment and strengthen leadership across sectors in ASEAN Member Countries for supportive environments, effective policies, scaling-up of programmes, and allocation of resources for HIV prevention and impact mitigation;
Identifying and addressing gaps, strengths and emerging issues in Member Countries through inter-country/regional collaboration, within the framework of the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP); and
Integration of HIV programmes with development priorities – to reduce the impact of development on HIV transmission, and the impact of HIV epidemic on development, within the framework of ASEAN’s commitments to the MDGs and the UNGASS Declaration on HIV/AIDS.
28. Recognizing that ASEAN’s strength in fighting HIV and AIDS lies in joint action and coordination among Member Countries, the ASEAN Leaders, at their 11th Summit in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, agreed to convene the Second Special Session on HIV and AIDS in conjunction with their 12th Summit in 2006 in the Philippines. This signals ASEAN’s commitment in combating the AIDS pandemic and gives impetus to ongoing regional action. ASEAN Leaders have also agreed to promote a higher profile and voice for ASEAN’s work in the area with the international community, particularly in global decision-making on fund allocation for HIV and AIDS prevention and control.
Avian Influenza (AI)
29. Since its early outbreaks and there was strong indication that AI can cause fatalities in humans through close contact, ASEAN Member Countries have responded and worked closely with a number of other governments and international agencies to address and control the disease. At the regional level, two ministerial level ASEAN bodies in the animal and human health sectors, namely: ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) and ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM), have directed their respective senior officials, working groups and experts to formulate a coordinated multi-agency and multi-sectoral approach to prevent, control, and eradicate HPAI in the region; and tasked them to work closely with international organizations, such as the FAO, OIE and WHO, so as to synergize the work of ASEAN Member Countries as well as that of the various regional and international agencies.
30. The AMAF have endorsed the Regional Framework for Control and Eradication of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in ASEAN, which covers eight (8) strategic areas on the prevention, control and eradication of HPAI over a period of three years (2006 to 2008), under the coordination of assigned Member Countries, namely:
- Disease surveillance – coordinated by Thailand;
- Effective containment measures – coordinated by Malaysia;
- Stamping out and vaccination policy – coordinated by Indonesia;
- Diagnostic capabilities – coordinated by Thailand;
- Establishment of disease free zones – coordinated by Malaysia;
- Information sharing – coordinated by Singapore;
- Emergency Preparedness Plans – coordinated by Malaysia; and
- Public Awareness – coordinated by the Philippines.
Subsequently, a Work Plan for the Control and Eradication of HPAI in ASEAN Region detailing 14 proposed projects requiring an estimated total funding of $94,762,000 was prepared.
31. Recognizing the importance for ASEAN to show strong commitment and ownership in the regional disease control programme, the AMAF has established the ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund (AHTF) with pledged initial contributions of US$2 million by all ASEAN Member Countries. An agreement has been formulated for signing by the AMAF. It will ensure that there is a robust framework for accountability, drawdown proposals and proper use and management of the Fund for long-term sustainability.
32. On the public health sector, ASEAN will combat the disease through the ASEAN+3 Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme. The Phase 1 of the Programme, which was completed in June 2005, focused on:
Improvement of institutional capacity of ASEAN to coordinate and manage effective implementation of the program (coordinated by the ASEAN Secretariat);
Improvement of capacity of the ASEAN Disease Surveillance Network to meet the needs of ASEAN member countries in Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance, Preparedness and Response (coordinated by Indonesia);
Improvement of capacity of national and regional laboratories in routine diagnostics, laboratory-based surveillance, preparedness and rapid response (coordinated by Malaysia); and
Improvement of national and regional capacity in epidemiological surveillance, preparedness, early warning of outbreaks and rapid response to emerging infections (coordinated by Thailand).
The second phase is under preparation as one of the four components of the Emerging and Resurging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Initiatives Programme. It will run for three years from 2006 to 2008.
33. ASEAN Member Countries are also responding to the disease through strengthening institutional linkages within countries and across borders; developing partnerships with all stakeholders in public and private sectors and the civil society; sharing information, knowledge, success stories and lessons learnt; changing mindset in poultry farming management practices; and leadership and coordination.
Institutional linkages within countries and across borders are being strengthened to ensure that national and regional coordination for early warning and response, laboratory diagnostics and epidemiological surveillance is in place.
Partnerships with all stakeholders in public and private sectors and civil society are being developed. Partnerships with the private sector, especially pharmaceutical manufacturers, are aimed at increasing the region’s capacity for stockpiling of vaccine and other treatment medications. Cooperation from sectors other than health and agriculture, such as information, tourism, trade and industry, foreign affairs, and finance, is essential to maintain public awareness and confidence, as well as to deal with the impact of the disease. Engaging the civil society is important because it is at the grassroots of the community and they can surely assist governments in increasing the effectiveness of containment measures.
From the experience with SARS in 2003, ASEAN learned that an effective means of prevention is to ensure peoples are better informed on the causes of the disease, its main modes of transmission and preventive steps to take. Providing researchers and public information bodies with prompt, transparent and reliable information on avian influenza occurrences (either in poultry or human) is critical in lessening public fear of the virus. ASEAN overcame SARS by acting with transparency. Timely information was provided on preventive measures. Strict quarantine and monitoring measures were instituted. New equipment and technology for thermal screening at exit and entry points were shared freely. Hotlines were activated to ensure quick information-sharing. Therefore, sharing information, knowledge, success stories and lessons learnt from each specific case experienced thus far will help institute better preparedness, surveillance and testing procedures in animal and human health systems.
Changing mindset in farming and poultry management practices are being encouraged. Farmers must avoid intensive and unhygienic poultry farming that leads to overcrowding of chickens, thus causing close contact with fecal and other excretions. Close monitoring and control of trade or marketing of live chickens, with no mixing of different avian species on farms and at live poultry markets, are no less desirable. This means that bio-security practices in poultry production and maintaining adequate control over transportation of poultry products, especially live poultry, need to be standardized.
ASEAN Member Countries are committed to combating the spread of the avian flu. High-level meetings have taken place throughout 2004-2005 to set directions in addressing the challenge. Several technical meetings were also convened to devise cooperative measures in dealing with both animal and human health aspects of the disease. WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO will be closely consulted. At the national level, Member Countries will undertake efforts to allocate and mobilized resources to destroy the infected chickens and redress the shortage of vaccine needed. ASEAN will continue to exert leadership, coordination, and be on top of the situation.
34. Through a grant project, ASEAN has forged collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and in partnership with the FAO and WHO, to prevent or rapidly control infection at source among birds, strengthening early detection, reporting and controlling avian flu outbreaks, and rapidly managing cases of human influenza caused by the H5N1 virus. In this regard, ASEAN Secretariat will implement a Sub-project on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat Capacity for Regional Coordination in the Control and Eradication of HPAI in ASEAN, for which the ADB has provided a fund of US$338,000 over a 2½ -year period starting from mid-March 2006. This ASEAN Sub-Project aims to strengthen the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the ASEAN’s Work Plan for the Control and Eradication of HPAI in ASEAN Region. It will also promote collaborative arrangements among various initiatives in the region and beyond to enhance understanding and sharing of experiences in the control of HPAI. A consultant will be engaged to assist in the technical coordination and communication among ASEAN Member Countries as well as with other stakeholders. A series of regional workshops (tentatively, 3 workshops) will be organized to support ASEAN Member Countries’ efforts against HPAI and for preventing and preparing for a potential human influenza pandemic. The key output of the project will be a comprehensive report on the various initiatives against HPAI undertaken by major stakeholders in the ASEAN Member Countries and in the region, with clear recommendations to improve coordination and ensure complementarity and synergy among the significant initiatives to control and eradicate HPAI in ASEAN.
35. ASEAN has received from Japan 7.5 billion yen (US$70,090,000) under the newly established “Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund” (JAIF). Besides for combating terrorism and to narrow the economic gap between the rich and poor Southeast Asian nations, an amount of US$46,822,000 of the fund will also be utilized to fight avian influenza. The assistance will include contributions of 500,000 courses of Tamiflu and personal protective equipment (PPE – influenza test kits, anti-septic solutions, disposable masks, disposable rubber gloves and disposable gowns) for 700,000 people each, to be stockpiled at a venue in ASEAN for release during emergency times. These courses of Tamiflu and the PPE are expected to be shipped to ASEAN in May 2006.
36. ASEAN is also cooperating with Australia through AusAid’s Emerging and Resurging Zoonotic Diseases Initiative Programme (ERZDRIP), which is also relevant to the current regional initiatives addressing the avian influenza epidemic. This AusAID’s initiative was launched in June 2005 and scheduled for completion in 2008. It has four components, namely: (1) Animal health; (2) Human health (with a sub-component aiming to support the second phase of the ASEAN+3 Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme); (3) Emergency preparedness; and (4) Research.
IV. ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND NATURAL DISASTERS
(a) Environmental Degradation
37. ASEAN’s Vision 2020 calls for a Clean and Green ASEAN, which aims to promote environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as to ensure good quality of life for the ASEAN community. Human actions fundamentally and, to a significant extent, irreversibly change the diversity of life, most of these changes represent a loss, and have been more rapid in the last 50 years than at any time in history.
38. One of the key drivers of change is the conversion of land to agriculture and other land uses for economic development. Although current forest cover in the ASEAN region remains high at about 48%, the yearly deforestation rate of at approximately 1% is four times the global average, and the trend continues to accelerate. At the same time, ASEAN’s natural resources have also been over-exploited for food, timber, fuel, and water. The region’s fish stock, in particular, is under stress. With increasing industrialization, the region also faces increasing air, water and solid waste pollution, while toxic waste pollution is also becoming an increasingly serious problem. An often unnoticed driver of change until it is too late is the introduction of alien invasive species into the environment, which has resulted in the decimation of the region’s endemic species.
39. Although ASEAN is currently not a major contributor to the climate change problem, this natural phenomenon has a tremendous impact on the eco-system. It has been determined with high certainty that the world will experience increasing frequency of disease and pests outbreaks, as well as extreme events such as floods and droughts.
40. The haze of 1997-98, due forest fires caused by man, resulted in high costs not only in terms of loss of biological diversity, but also to the ASEAN economies and to the health of the people. Alarmingly, this is a recurring hazard in the region.
41. ASEAN is implementing the following key initiatives to address these drivers of change:
The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity has been established in the Philippines as ASEAN’s recognition that cooperative efforts must be enhanced to promote conservation and sustainable use of resources, and to ensure that benefits arising from such use are shared fairly.
Under the ASEAN Heritage Park Programme, Member Countries have selected and designated a total of 27 national protected areas as ASEAN Heritage Parks. The Programme aims to ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the ecological and other benefits that such parks provide.
The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which entered into force in 2003, takes a three-prong approach to addressing haze pollution, namely prevention, mitigation and monitoring.
Through the ASEAN Marine Water Quality Criteria Project, ASEAN promotes the adoption of minimum standards for our coastal and marine waters.
The newly adopted ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on Water Resources Management aims to tackle issues relating to demand and supply allocation, water quality and sanitation, extreme events, and governance and capacity-building.
With the increasing trend of urbanization in this region, ASEAN has initiated the ASEAN Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Cities, which focuses on addressing urban environmental challenges of solid waste management, air pollution due to vehicular emissions and access to water as well as water pollution.
Problems related to climate change and the use of chemicals are being addressed through sharing of experiences and information, developing common understanding or positions and capacity-building to meet the obligations of relevant international conventions.
ASEAN aims to create an environmentally conscious ASEAN community by focusing its actions on formal and non-formal education, capacity-building and networking.
ASEAN promotes the adoption of cleaner production processes and technologies, and has recently established the ASEAN Network on Environmentally Sound Technologies (ASEAN-NEST) as forum to share experiences and information.
42. It is hoped that, by these concerted efforts, ASEAN will be able to contribute to addressing the environmental challenges that increasingly do not recognize borders. Without these efforts, ASEAN will face continued environmental degradation which may result in more frequent occurrence of environmental disasters that will be far costlier to address in the long-run.
(b) Natural Disasters
43. Asia is considered as the most disaster prone region in the world because about 75% of the world’s natural disasters occurred in the Asia-Pacific region. The threat of environmental disasters is fast becoming a reality in this region. Incidences of natural disasters, such as flash floods and landslides are increasing due to environmental degradation. Based on the combined criteria of frequency, the scope or area of effect and intensity, the top ten hazards in ASEAN are typhoon, flood, haze, earthquake, tsunami, epidemic, landslide, volcanic eruption, drought, and fires.
44. The last tsunami showed that ASEAN, as a region, was unprepared in addressing such large-scale calamities collectively. It demonstrated that how regional response could not be deployed rapidly and effectively not so much because of lack of resources, but more of a lack of a regional system to identify and mobilize available resources into an effective response system.
45. As a platform to jointly addressed natural disasters, ASEAN Member Countries have signed the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response in July 2005 following the December 2004 tsunami. The Agreement provides mechanisms to reduce disaster losses in the region through joint efforts and cooperation. It is comprehensive as it covers all cycles of disaster management; addresses both natural and human-induced hazards; encourages integrated approach involving all stakeholders, linking national initiatives with regional and international cooperation; put in place regional structures, including a coordinating centre on humanitarian assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), to facilitate cooperation and perform some operational coordinating functions, as well as a regional standby arrangements requiring countries to earmark assets and capacities. It also requires Member Countries to designate a network of entry points to speed up movement of relief items across borders, and to conduct simulation exercises on a regular basis. And, from the experience with the last tsunami, the Agreement recognizes the need to utilize both military and civilian assets in disaster relief operations.
V. ASEAN COOPERATION IN COMBATING TRANSNATIONAL CRIME
46. ASEAN has signed Joint Declarations in the Fight against International Terrorism with all its Dialogue Partners, except with Canada which is expected to be concluded later this year. A number of activities have also been conducted to enhance the capacity of ASEAN law enforcement agencies to deal with the crime, including the ASEAN-European Commission (EC) Regional Programme on Counter-Terrorism, which focused on border management and document security. ASEAN will also consider establishing a convention on counter-terrorism which will be deliberated at the forthcoming 6th Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crimes (SOMTC) in June 2006.
(b) Illicit Drug Trafficking
47. ASEAN has targeted to realize the region as drug-free by the year 2015. This target has been advanced from the original target of 2020 due to a growing concern over the repercussions of drug abuse and illicit trafficking on ASEAN’s goal towards peace and prosperity. Under the ASEAN-China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD), satisfactory actions have been undertaken to reduce the production of natural drugs such as opium and cannabis, especially in the Golden Triangle area, as well as synthetic drugs such as ATS and ecstasy. Several training to enhance the capacity of enforcement personnel in dealing with various aspects of drug production and trafficking have been held in collaboration with China and Australia.
(c) Trafficking in Persons
48. ASEAN’s commitment to combat trafficking in persons in the region was affirmed by the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children by the 10th ASEAN Summit in 2004. Concrete action programmes to implement the Joint Declaration will be discussed at the forthcoming 6th SOMTC. To-date, ASEAN has implemented a number of activities to combat trafficking in persons, including a just-concluded four-year cooperation with Australia on ASEAN Regional Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking (ARCPPT) that aims to enhance the capacity of ASEAN criminal justice response to trafficking in persons. The cooperation will be extended for another four years which will involve six ASEAN Member Countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Thailand. Currently, there is the ASEAN-US Pilot Research Project for the Improved Collection of Data on Trafficking in Persons among ASEAN Member Countries being implemented in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
(d) Money Laundering
49. ASEAN is working closely with the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APGML) in anti-money laundering. ASEAN and APGML are currently coordinating for Technical Assistance and Training (TA&T) to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing for ASEAN Member Countries. Under ASEAN’s own cooperation mechanism, ASEAN will be conducting a second training course on Anti-Drug Money Laundering for ASEAN Law Enforcement Officers, in Singapore later this year, to share expertise, experience and knowledge on the subject matter.
(e) Other Crimes – Arms Smuggling, Sea Piracy, International Economic Crime, and Cyber Crime.
50. While focusing its cooperation on combating the transnational crimes mentioned above, ASEAN maintains committed efforts at combating arms smuggling, sea piracy, international economic crime, and cyber crime. ASEAN will continue to share best practices and lessons learned associated with the management and control of small arms, especially in post-conflict environments to contribute to political, economic and social development, as well as to the reduction in other forms of transnational organized crimes. ASEAN and US will jointly conduct a Seminar on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) early next year, aimed at enhancing the capability of ASEAN maritime security agencies of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact safety, security, commerce, or the environment. Already, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are cooperating to combat piracy in the Straits of Malacca. Concerned over the growing criminal abuse of internet technology, ASEAN will convene joint activities with China, and possibility later with the Republic of Korea, to combat international economic crime and cyber crime.
51. Recognizing the nature of transnational crime that transcends national boundaries, ASEAN will fight its menace not only on the national level, but also on bilateral and multi-lateral levels. In this regard, ASEAN will continue to strengthen its cooperation with its Dialogue Partners and international organizations in combating all forms of international crime. Although, at the ASEAN regional level, significant progress has been achieved through previous regional endeavours, there are still the needs for closer coordination among various ASEAN bodies responsible for combating transnational crime, for an effective regional mechanism to facilitate exchange of information and intelligence-sharing among concerned law-enforcement agencies, and for the development of concrete measures and action programmes to implement ASEAN cooperation with Dialogue Partners. On extra-regional cooperation, the ASEA-EU Memorandum of Understanding on Transnational Crime still need to be substantiated with concrete programmes, especially on counter-terrorism, maritime crime and illicit drug trafficking.
52. In combating threats to regional security, ASEAN has established various mechanisms of cooperation and adopted for implementation cooperation frameworks and action plans in the respective sectors. However, the region still faces emerging challenges and threats. To be able to stand tall against these threats to regional security, ASEAN Member Countries need to maintain their sense of community such as that manifested during the last tsunami episode. They need to exert leadership and commitment through partnership with the global community and, as a group, need to ensure that they get the priorities right. ASEAN also need to ensure that partnership with the global community will be according to local regional characteristics and needs. However, while it has to act regionally, ASEAN would need to think globally. To move forward regional cooperation more effectively, ASEAN would take into consideration the need to engage relevant partners from both within and outside ASEAN to jointly implement activities of mutual interest.
“TEN NATIONS, ONE COMMUNITY”
10 April 2006