ISTANBUL, 23 May 2016 – On the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN) held a joint forum today to discuss lessons learned in their longstanding partnership and the way forward. Panelists agreed that localising humanitarian response that meets international norms is important. The event also served as a platform to launch the ASEAN-UN Joint Strategic Plan of Action on Disaster Management.

According to Willem Rampangilei, Chief of Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority, and Chair of ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management, “There are many potentials for ASEAN and UN partnership but also opportunities to address challenges which include coordination in policymaking at the highest level as well as strengthening local, national and regional capacities.”

Meanwhile, Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator for OCHA said that consistent mutual engagement which capitalises on each other’s strength has brought ASEAN-UN partnership to greater height. She reiterated that the UN is committed to observing ASEAN centrality in the regional humanitarian response.

The partnership between ASEAN and the UN in the area of disaster management was strengthened through the joint response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008. ASEAN played a key role in both directly supporting the emergency response in one of its Member States, as well as negotiating the terms of a joint response alongside the UN and the Government of Myanmar.

During the forum, Mr. Said Faisal, Executive Director of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) cited the ASEAN-UN partnership as one that is “not just about talks but action.” He mentioned the deployment of ASEAN emergency response and assessment personnel as part of joint ASEAN and UN responses in Yemen and Fiji to illustrate the strength of the partnership.

Another speaker in the panel, Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General – Partnerships of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remarked that partnership development is about building relationships and she commended ASEAN for helping to broker relationships between national disaster management officials and the civil society. She challenged ASEAN to be more involved in a broader spectrum of humanitarian work that includes refugees and conflict.

Apart from coordination during relief operations, ASEAN and UN are also collaborating to support, promote and enable national and local leadership, enhance preparedness and response capacities, and strengthen local resilience through various capacity building programmes.

Director Adelina Kamal of the ASEAN Secretariat moderated the side event which was attended by officials from both ASEAN and the UN, diplomats, international and regional CSO representatives, and other stakeholders.


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