JOINT PRESS RELEASE
ASEAN Ministers responsible for disaster management met in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia on 7 December 2004, to review and enhance regional cooperation on disaster management. The Ministers acknowledged the usefulness of this inaugural meeting to share national experiences and further strengthen regional cooperation.
The Ministerial Meeting was officiated by H.E. Samdech HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia. In his opening address, the Prime Minister noted that this Meeting provides a good opportunity to review each others’ achievements and identify measures to reduce disasters and to exchange ideas on disaster management at the national and ASEAN regional level. The Prime Minister stressed that disasters are strongly correlated with human development, and therefore developmental efforts should reduce its destructive impacts, and promote the long term sustainability of socio-economic development. The Prime Minister strongly supported the ASEAN principles to assist in reducing losses, damages and suffering caused by disasters, through regional and global cooperation.
The Ministers expressed their profound sympathy to the Philippines and its people over the loss of lives and damage to property brought about by the recent typhoons. The Ministers agreed to extend whatever assistance, within their national capacity, to assist the Philippines at this moment of need.
The Ministers expressed their commitment to the implementation of the ASEAN Regional Program on Disaster Management which represents ASEAN’s comprehensive and integrated framework to guide disaster management cooperation among ASEAN member countries and with other relevant organizations over the period 2004-2010.
The Ministers emphasized the need to respond effectively to assist member countries during major disasters and calamities. The Ministers therefore agreed to develop a regional instrument on disaster management and emergency response to enhance disaster management in the region and facilitate cross border movement of assistance.
The Ministers emphasized the importance of public awareness, community participation, promoting partnerships and collaboration, and mainstreaming disaster management in the development process. The Ministers therefore agreed to support active participation at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in Japan in January, 2005 to showcase national and ASEAN regional initiatives. The Ministers also agreed to celebrate ASEAN Day for Disaster Management as part of the International Day for Disaster Reduction on every 2nd Wednesday of October.
The Ministers held consultations with relevant organizations to promote collaboration in enhancing disaster management in the ASEAN region. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the various organizations for actively supporting the work of ASEAN which include Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA).