1. We, the Ministers responsible for social welfare and development of ASEAN, the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) convened the First ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Meeting for Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD+3) on 17 December 2004 in Bangkok. The Meeting was co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Sora-at Klinpratoom, Minister of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand and H.E. Mr. Li Xueju, Minister of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

2. At this inaugural meeting, we had a productive exchange of views on developing avenues for ASEAN Plus Three collaboration in the social sector. We agreed that ASEAN Plus Three activities in social welfare and development should bear in mind the direction laid out in the Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation adopted by the ASEAN Plus Three Informal Summit on 28 November 1999 in Manila.  We noted with particular interest that the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Plan of Action, both adopted by the ASEAN Leaders on 29 November 2004 at the 10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, have prioritised building a community of caring societies in ASEAN with attention to measures that would reduce the social risks faced by the elderly and persons with disabilities; increase the effective participation of family, civil society and the private sector in tackling poverty and social welfare issues; and raise the standard of living of marginalised and disadvantaged groups.

Priorities of ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation

3. We agreed to develop ASEAN Plus Three cooperation in three key areas, building on ASEAN’s on-going activities and priorities in social welfare and development.

4. First, we agreed to promote a community of caring societies in East Asia and in this context, we recognised the family as a strong force for social cohesion in East Asian societies. In addition to the family, the community is also a cornerstone for social welfare, providing care for children, the young, women and the elderly. As such, we agreed to promote the regional networking of professional social workers, NGOs and the private sector groups involved in social services education or provision of care. We are looking to develop an exchange programme for social workers of the ASEAN Plus Three countries. We also noted with interest that the ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on social welfare and development to be hosted by Thailand in 2005 would include the participation of interested Plus Three countries.

5. Second, we agreed to focus efforts in developing policies and programmes to address ageing, as well as promote community-based approaches for delivering care and social services to the elderly and the disabled. In this respect, we welcomed the initiative of Thailand to convene an ASEAN Plus Three Symposium on Older Persons to share experiences, lessons and best practices on the issues and concerns of the elderly. This initiative would also help establish strong networks among the social welfare practitioners among our countries. We also noted the merit of developing future ASEAN Plus Three activities on ageing in concert with the recommendations of the Shanghai Implementation Strategy (for the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 and Macao Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and Pacific 1999), including priorities such as older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and providing enabling and supportive environments.

6. Third, we agreed to give attention to human resource development in the social sector. Recognising the importance of capacity building for social workers in East Asia, we welcomed the Philippines’ proposal to establish a network for schools of social work.

7. In implementing the ASEAN Plus Three activities in social welfare and development, we strongly encouraged our officials to initiate inter-sector cooperation. Activities concerned with the care of the elderly and the disabled would benefit greatly from collaboration with the health sector.

Existing cooperation with China, Japan and ROK

8. We also noted with satisfaction the on-going cooperation under ASEAN’s individual dialogue partnerships with China, Japan and the ROK. These include the ASEAN-China High Level Seminar on Social Security, the ASEAN-Japan High Level Meetings on Caring Societies and the ASEAN-ROK Project on Home Care for the Older People in the ASEAN Countries. We discussed the feasibility of expanding some of these activities to include all interested ASEAN Plus Three Countries, as well as developing new initiatives in the area of social welfare and development under the ASEAN Plus Three framework which would be complementary to the existing activities.

9. We noted and welcomed the offer by China, Japan and the ROK to complement existing activities of ASEAN+3 countries in providing opportunities to develop new collaborative initiatives in social welfare and development.

10. We agreed to meet in Viet Nam in 2007 where we look forward to making further progress on the ASEAN Plus Three initiatives.

11. We expressed our thanks to Thailand for graciously hosting the First ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Meeting for Social Welfare and Development.

List of Ministers or their Representatives

1) H.E. Pehin Dato Haji Hussain Bin Haji Mohd.Yusof
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of Brunei Darussalam
2) H.E. Ith Sam Heng
Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia
3) H.E. Li Xueju
Minister of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
4) H.E. Bachtiar Chamsyah
Minister of Social Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
5) H.E. Seiichi Eto
Senior Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan
6) H.E. Moon Chang Jin
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea
7) H.E. Le Kakanhya
Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
8) H.E. Dato’ G. Palanivel K. Govindasamy
Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia
9) H.E. Major General Sein Htwa
Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of the Union of Myanmar
10) H.E. Corazon Juliano-Soliman
Secretary of Social Welfare and Development of the Republic of the Philippines
11) H.E. Yu-Foo Yee Shoon
Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Singapore
12) H.E. Sora-at Klinpratoom
Minister of Social Development and Human Security of the Kingdom of Thailand
13) H.E. Nguyen Thien Truong
Vice Chairman of Commission for Population  Family and Children of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
14) Dr. Azmi Mat Akhir
Director of Bureau for Resources Development and Special Assistant to the Secretary-General of ASEAN (Institutional Affairs and Special Duties), the ASEAN Secretariat