JAKARTA, 7 May 2019 - The Secretariats of ASEAN and the United Nations held their fourth regional Secretariat-to-Secretariat (S2S) Meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta yesterday, reaffirming their commitment to strengthen the partnership. It was recognised that substantial progress had been achieved across all areas of cooperation while appreciating the need for stronger engagement.

The Secretariat-to-Secretariat Meeting discussed cooperation across all three ASEAN Community pillars . On political-security front, the meeting focused on peace and security issues, human rights and humanitarian action as well as humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State. In addition, the Meeting exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern to both organisations including trade tensions, the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

Under economic cooperation, the meeting discussed ASEAN economic integration and connectivity, strategies for digital economy and fourth industrial revolution, trade facilitation, food and agriculture, energy, development of MSMEs, as well as the future of work initiative. On socio-cultural front, the meeting exchanged views on disaster risk reduction, climate change, education and culture, women empowerment, children, social welfare and development, and public health.

The Meeting looked forward to the next phase of cooperation after the completion of the first ASEAN-UN Plan of Action (2016-2020). Discussions also highlighted ASEAN-UN steps to strengthen collaboration around the complementarities between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, while emphasising that efforts should be redoubled to accelerate the pace of development in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It was noted that the ‘complementarities initiative’ provided a comprehensive framework to advance joint work on regional priorities under the next ASEAN-UN Plan of Action (2021-2025).

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi in his opening remarks highlighted that in the increasingly interdependent world, multilateral cooperation has become even more important to address the growing challenges that affect the lives of people. He reaffirmed that ASEAN remains steadfast in promoting multilateralism and international cooperation, and continues to place priority in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The future of ASEAN-UN partnership remains bright with shared interest and aspiration for peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world at large.

Head of the UN Delegation, Ms. Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) of the United Nations also underscored the importance of ASEAN-UN cooperation: “In recent years, ASEAN and the UN have taken steps to strengthen collaboration and foster complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The ASEAN-UN Plan of Action has provided a concrete framework to work together on regional priorities and to advance towards the achievement of the SDGs. As partnerships with regional organisations are being intensified under the UN reform agenda, ASEAN is central and an integral partner of the United Nations.”

The meeting was opened by Dato Lim Jock Hoi and Ms. Mueller. Participation from the ASEAN Secretariat included its Deputy Secretaries-General and senior staff members. The United Nations delegation included the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific of UNDP; the Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of the ILO, the Director of Asia and Pacific Division of the UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, and the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN ESCAP as well other UN regional representatives.

An interface meeting between the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives and the UN Senior Delegation took place a day before the S2S Meeting on 6 May. The next S2S Meeting is expected to take place in September this year in New York at the margins of the UN General Assembly.