Secretary SIAZON, Foreign Minister HOR, ASEAN colleagues:
It is a pleasure to be here today and to take another step in the long, historic and warm relationship between Canada and ASEAN, in this, the 22nd year of our dialogue relationship. If I have one message to leave with you today, it is that Canada continues to have a high level of interest and engagement in the region and with ASEAN, including in responding to the effects of the economic crisis. Last year, Canada provided close to C$l00 million in development assistance to the region, but our relationship with ASEAN is much deeper and more important than aid alone.
With the passage of time over these 22 years, Canada’s relationship with ASEAN has been changing. This is quite natural. ASEAN itself is changing, with more members, more dialogue partners and the advent of both the ASEAN Regional Forum and APEC as venues to address issues important to both Canada and the ASEAN countries. One outcome of the enlargement of ASEAN over the past few years is the reality that not all ASEAN members are at or near the same level of development. Some observers have even spoken of a two- or three-tier ASEAN. Be that as it may, we in Canada have concluded that revitalization of the Canada-ASEAN relationship — something we sincerely hope for –needs to acknowledge these differing states and rates of economic development.
Our dialogue will also be revitalised by acknowledging the much richer nature that our relationship has assumed over the years. Twenty-two years ago, our shared interests were mainly in development assistance; now they have broadened to include the whole range of economic, political and security issues. At the end of this century, as we navigate on the tides of globalization, there is ample opportunity for large and smaller players alike to contribute to the management of international affairs. Globalization means that we are all interconnected, and that brings both benefits and responsibility.
In the ARF, some have been using the term “comprehensive security” in response to these trends. I have put forth the term human security, which means seeing security issues differently and more broadly, in a way that takes account of new realities. While peace and security between states remains critically important, as governments in this region are also well aware, it has become clear that national security alone is insufficient to guarantee the security and safety of our people. A key question for us, then, both in discussions between ASEAN and all dialogue partners, and in the ASEAN-Canada dialogue specifically, is this: in a global era how can we best enhance the security of our people?
The greatest threats to human security continue to flow from violent conflict. The end of the Cold War confrontation was hailed by some as a harbinger of global peace. To some extent, of course, this has been true; reduced tensions between major powers have opened greater prospects for global stability and peace. At the same time, however, we have witnessed the proliferation of intrastate conflicts, a particularly dangerous trend.
It is quite clear that to respond to these challenges we must revitalise and re-work our multilateral organizations, global and regional. Time and challenge have hobbled these institutions, but the problem is not confined to the institutions themselves. Where they are weak and ineffective, it is partly the result of a lack of political will by member states.
The maintenance of peace and security underpins economic and social progress and lies at the heart of our principal multilateral organization, the United Nations. The nature of armed conflict has changed in the intervening decades since the United Nations was created. In the First World War, approximately 10% of casualties of conflict were civilian. Now, 90% of these casualties are civilian. The UN, particularly the Security Council, must adapt to reflect these changes. The issue is not so much the Council’s size and composition but its mandate and effectiveness in ensuring human security.
There is also the need for more effective regional organizations. There can be no doubt that the UN needs regional partners to provide expertise, perspective and commitment, including an effective and vibrant ARF/PMC. ASEAN’s collective voice needs to be heard in international fora as we consider issues critical to us all, including non-proliferation and disarmament. I think we see the real importance of this in the significant proposals made in the just-completed session of the ARF, such as the proposal for a code of conduct in the South China Seas. Canada is very pleased to have contributed to work in this area, through our support of the Track II seminars on preventing conflict in the South China Seas that have been so ably chaired by Indonesia. We look forward to further fruitful cross-fertilisation between Track I and Track II efforts.
Conflict, whether actual or potential, is not the only pressing challenge to the security of our people. Their security is affected by a growing number of transnational threats. In an increasingly interdependent world we have all become more vulnerable. Open markets, increased world trade and a revolution in communications are highly beneficial, but they have also made borders more porous to a range of threats. The proliferation of small arms, the mass movement of populations, international crime and corruption, and the trafficking of drugs and even of people are just some of the trends which have profoundly negative consequences for us all. Over half the total supply of refined heroin in the world — and the vast majority of the heroin that finds its way onto the streets of Western Canadian cities — comes from the Golden Triangle area. This illicit trade leaves a trail of misery in ASEAN and in Canada. Threats to human security of this kind require multilateral responses, and the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Post-Ministerial Conference should seize the opportunity to address these emerging challenges.
Canada shares many of the priorities outlined in ASEAN’s Hanoi Plan of Action — from trade liberalisation, to improving respect for human rights, to dealing with the corrosive impacts of transnational crime — and we look forward to working with you to achieve them. In doing so, we will look to approaches which are multifaceted, targeted and flexible enough to be able to recognize the particular needs of individual ASEAN members. It has been encouraging to see ASEAN economies recovering, but the need to address the social impact of the crisis remains. Canada will continue to devote resources to this, helping ensure that the recovery Is sustainable.
Canada is already providing significant assistance to ASEAN in priority areas of development: in 1998/99, a total of $97 million in bilateral and regional programmes. This sum is being used increasingly in innovative ways that reflect the new realities, needs and priorities of ASEAN. In this vein, some of you will, no doubt, be aware of the training symposium earlier this month, here in Singapore, co-hosted by the Governments of Singapore and Canada, which brought together senior ASEAN and Canadian civil servants, including the recently-retired head of the Canadian public service, This event aimed to strengthen regional capacity to deal with public sector issues in the current economic situation. Similarly, there are the very successful training courses situated here in Singapore, jointly funded and presented by Canada which provide much-valued English Second Language education for government officials from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
I would also like to highlight briefly a number of other innovative and effective areas of cooperation that do not always get the attention they deserve:
Canada is appointing a new regional Finance Counsellor this year, to be based in our High Commission in Singapore and cover all ASEAN countries;
Canada is funding new cooperative efforts to improve governance and build capacity in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and East Timor;
In the case of East Timor, our development assistance efforts run in tandem with our contributions to improving the security situation, through our contribution to UNAMET and our support to the Catholic Bishops’ efforts at community reconciliation.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the presence of Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor, as our next country coordinator, and extend my congratulations to Cambodia on joining ASEAN. Cambodia’s accession represents an historic moment for ASEAN, and not just because it makes the logistics of choosing country coordinators for your ten dialogue partners a great deal simpler! I look forward to signing the exchange of letters by which Cambodia will accede to the Canada-ASEAN Economic Cooperation Agreement, immediately after our meeting today.
Finally, let me say a few words of appreciation to the Philippines, our current dialogue coordinator. Foreign Secretary Siazon and his officials have been at the forefront of the international effort to deal with anti-personnel land mines and were welcome participants at the December 1997 Ottawa Conference on this matter. This is another example of a human security issue — one that directly affects the daily lives of people in the region and around the world — which Canada and ASEAN have good reasons to discuss together. The Philippines has also been a most helpful partner in looking at ways to develop and define a new and revitalized Canada-ASEAN relationship. The easy relationship which we have developed at the level of Foreign Ministers and officials bodes well for the future. We look forward to working with the Philippines, and looking ahead to next year, with Cambodia, to continue our efforts at revitalisation. In this way, we can ensure that the Canada-ASEAN dialogue is in the future, as it has increasingly been in the past, a true reflection of our relationship: wide-ranging, rich and effective.