ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, 26 September – The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution will enter into force on 25 November, 2003. This follows the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification by the Government of Thailand with the Secretary General of ASEAN on 26 September, 2003. The Agreement provides for its entry into force sixty days after the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification. Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Viet Nam had earlier deposited their instrument of ratification/approval.

The Agreement, signed by the ten member countries of ASEAN on 10 June 2002 in Kuala Lumpur during the World Conference and Exhibition on Land and Forest Fire Hazards, is the first such regional arrangement in the world that binds a group of contiguous states to tackle transboundary haze pollution resulting from land and forest fires. The Agreement contains provisions on monitoring, assessment and prevention, technical cooperation and scientific research, mechanisms for coordination, lines of communication, and simplified customs and immigration procedures for disaster relief. The Agreement provides for the establishment of an ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control to undertake the various activities required under the Agreement.

Parties of the Agreement are required to cooperate in developing and implementing measures to prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution, and control sources of fires by developing early warning systems, exchange information and technology, and provide mutual assistance. The Agreement also requires the Parties to respond promptly to a request for relevant information sought by a state or states affected by such transboundary haze pollution, when the transboundary haze pollution originates from within their territories. The Parties are required to take legal, administrative and/ or other measures to implement their obligations under the Agreement.

Since the signing of the Agreement in June 2002, the ASEAN Environment Ministers have consistently expressed their commitment to ensure the early entry into force of the Agreement. This speedy adoption and early entry into force of the Agreement bears testimony to ASEAN’s resolve to tackle land and forest fires and transboundary haze pollution comprehensively.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.