A series of six books on the post-Nargis response was launched in Bangkok yesterday as part of regional efforts to institutionalise good practices of the post-Nargis operation in Myanmar.

“The books are our contribution to the world,” said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, at the book launch ceremony. The books also aim to be a repository of knowledge and experiences to strengthen the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

The books are titled: “A Humanitarian Call: The ASEAN Response to Cyclone Nargis”; “Bringing ASEAN Closer to the People: The Experience of ASEAN Volunteers in Myanmar”; “Charting a New Course: ASEAN-UN Post-Nargis Partnership”; “Compassion in Action: The Story of the ASEAN-Led Coordination in Myanmar”; “Post-Nargis Needs Assessment and Monitoring: ASEAN’s Pioneering Response”; and “Voices of Nargis Survivors: The Story of Survivors from Cyclone Nargis”.

The ceremony was held at the sidelines of the ‘Post-Nargis Lesson Learning Conference’ at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. The conference, organised by ASEAN, with the support of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UN ESCAP), was co-chaired by Dr Surin Pitsuwan and Dr Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UN ESCAP.

“We have shared our lessons and good practices from the post-Nargis effort in Myanmar. We have learned that strong leadership and effective coordination mechanism is key for successful relief and recovery as demonstrated through a unique partnership between ASEAN, the Government of Myanmar and the UN,” said Dr Surin at the conference. In the aftermath of the cyclone, ASEAN was asked to step in to facilitate the flow of international assistance, under the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) mechanism, which also comprises the Government of Myanmar and the United Nations. The mandate of the ASEAN-led coordination ended at the end of July 2010, and the coordination mechanism for continued coordination has been handed over to the Government of Myanmar.

The post-Nargis operation has provided an opportunity for ASEAN to strengthen the partnerships with the international humanitarian community, including the UN, donor countries and civil society. At the conference, ASEAN also thanked all partners for the support to the post-Nargis operation. “We thank the Government of Myanmar, the UN, donors and international community, NGO community, private sector and civil society. This is a clear demonstration of a sharing and caring community within the ASEAN Member States and a new way of working with the international community,” said Dr Surin.

“Although  the  mandate of  the  TCG  has  now  come  to a close, the best practices  from  this  experience,  as documented in the now-launched ASEAN book  series, form a very important step in institutionalising the UN-ASEAN partnership and  its working mechanisms to address future disasters in the region,”  said  Dr Heyzer. “And within Myanmar, the spirit of cooperation among the UN, ASEAN and the Government should endure in further support to the country in its rebuilding and in meeting its overall development challenges.”

The conference was attended by more than a hundred participants, from high-level representatives of ASEAN Member States, the UN, Dialogue Partners and partner countries, non-government organisations and other stakeholders.