ASEAN will seek to finalise the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

In its Joint Communiqué, ASEAN stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, and the continued exercise of self-restraint by all parties concerned, and the promotion of confidence building measures in the area.

“In this regard, we look forward to the finalisation of the Guidelines at the upcoming ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on the Implementation of the DOC,” it said.

The Communiqué also noted with appreciation, the proposal of the Philippines on a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation, and tasked the ASEAN SOM – wth the assistance of maritime legal experts – to study the proposal.

The statement also “welcome the offer of the Philippines to host maritime legal experts meeting in 2011, report to the SOM, and make recommendations to the Foreign Ministers prior to the 19th ASEAN Summit.”

Disputes over overlapping claims made the news again in recent months, with several claimant states accusing each other of intrusion. But at the same time, the claimant states also voiced support for peaceful resolution of their disputes through dialogue.

The Communiqué also welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR).

“We emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation in capacity-building in the areas of conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building, including demining activities, in order to strengthen the vital role of ASEAN Member States in supporting effective efforts in the maintenance of regional peace and security,” it said.

In another development, the AMM also welcome the progress of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, and Terms of Reference of AICHR.

The Communiqué also welcome the commencement of the drafting of an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and took note of the annual report of AICHR.

To support ASEAN’s increasing engagements with foreign partners, and to enhance its support for ASEAN’s integration, the AMM further reiterated their support for the strengthening of the ASEAN Secretariat, “and agreed to undertake a comprehensive review by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, in collaboration with the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) with a view towards reporting to the 19th ASEAN Summit, through the ASEAN Coordinating Council”.