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Opening Remarks to the ASEAN-UN Workshop on "Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Conflict Prevention and Preventive Diplomacy", UN Envoy Vijay Nambiar

5 Apr 2013 - 17:21

Your Excellency Mr. Marty Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia,

Your Excellency Mr. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN,

Representatives of the Governments of ASEAN Member States,

Representatives of the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN ISIS),

Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Selamat Pagi [good morning]

I am greatly honoured to be here with you this morning at this ASEAN-UN workshop on Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Conflict Prevention and Preventive Diplomacy. At the outset I wish to convey the warm personal greetings of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. You are all aware of the great value and importance the Secretary-General attaches to the United Nations’ partnership with regional organizations. Over the years we have been making steady progress in our endeavor to form and operationalize such partnerships around the world. You also know that the Secretary-General is a particularly close friend to ASEAN, and his tenure has coincided with an acceleration of the integration process within ASEAN. We are committed to continuing our work to strengthen this partnership in a meaningful way in the months and years to come.

Our partnership has already come a long way. The two organizations have held four summits since 2000. In this relatively short span of time, we have deepened our cooperation, elevating it to the level of ‘comprehensive partnership’ two years ago. The “Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations” adopted the 4th ASEAN-UN Summit in Bali could not have been readily endorsed without the personal initiative and commitment of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa under Indonesia's active chairmanship of ASEAN. We are very grateful for these efforts on your part.

Our comprehensive partnership consists of four pillars: “Political-Security Cooperation”; “Economic Cooperation”; “Socio-Cultural Cooperation”; and “Cooperation between Secretariats”. The first three substantive pillars mirror the structure of the ASEAN Community to be established by 2015 and are thus closely aligned to AEAN's priorities. This reflects the United Nations' strong support to the regional integration process of ASEAN. Most of UN activities under this new partnership framework are geared towards assisting ASEAN in achieving the 2015 target date.

The United Nations is also strengthening its cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat, mainly through regular Secretariat-to-Secretariat (S2S) dialogue. This is a valuable mechanism underpinning the growing partnership of the two organizations. We look forward to working closely with new ASEAN Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Le Loung Minh, in raising our collaboration to newer heights. I am pleased to note that, in his insightful speech, His Excellency has noted various ways and means of “ASEAN conflict prevention”, including the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and a multilayered web of regional architectures such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), as well as the upcoming ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR). He also touched upon a number of actual cases of conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy in the ASEAN region, which could be examined during the course of the present workshop.



Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s workshop “Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Conflict Prevention and Preventive Diplomacy,” builds on our past collaborative efforts, including the workshop and a seminar held in the past couple of years. It is designed to take us to the next level of collaboration. On behalf of the United Nations, I wish to express our deep gratitude to the Government of Japan for providing the financial resources that have made this Workshop possible.

This Workshop is an important step in the implementation of the first pillar, i.e. the Political-Security Cooperation pillar of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership.

Preventive diplomacy has been an enduring aspect of the work of the United Nations. After all this organization was founded on the promise to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made it a priority to re-energize the United Nations’ preventive diplomacy, to improve our machinery and expand our partnerships. It is based on our strong belief and experience that through a combination of informed analysis, early warning, confidence building, rapid response and effective partnerships, we can help defuse emerging tensions, prevent the escalation of disputes into open conflict, and when conflicts do flare up, assist parties in resolving them peacefully. In his report “Preventive Diplomacy: Delivering Results” (2011), the UN Secretary-General observed that “the establishment of regular and informal early warning dialogues between the United Nations and regional and other partners would allow us to pool information and help us to anticipate “threshold moments” when key actors might decide to use violence.” He also stated that “to live up to our full potential in this field, we need to further strengthen these relationships, in particular those with regional partners”.

Our two-day workshop is conceived, and should be perceived, I feel, within this framework. It is an integral part of our strategic dialogue and regular engagement and consultation with our distinguished partners.



Ladies and gentlemen,

Since it’s founding in 1967, ASEAN has played a key role in securing stability and growth in this region. While the history of this region has been tumultuous and the major conflicts of the fifties, sixties and seventies had been destabilizing in many way, Southeast Asia has been relatively conflict-free since then, and was able to make major strides in creating a modicum of regional stability and forging regional integration. In recent decades, you have experienced exponential economic growth. Apart from becoming a dynamic regional catalyst of international trade, ASEAN, with its diversity, today represents a powerful microcosm of the great convergence and connectivity the world is experiencing.

This is not to suggest that the region is without problems. The intra-regional disparities within ASEAN are still significant. Several low intensity, intra-state armed conflicts, as well as some incipient and potentially troubling maritime disputes, remain unresolved.

But the successes accruing from regional cooperation of the ASEAN member states are evident in the increased and proactive engagements of major global powers with the region. ASEAN's ‘centrality’ is the key factor behind the multiplicity of regional structures and mechanisms that have taken shape, including the ASEAN Plus Three, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the East Asia Summit.

There is a lot the world can learn from ASEAN on the maintenance of regional peace and security, including on conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. With many prominent speakers gathered in one room here in Jakarta, we can expect stimulating and informative discussions on case-studies within the region and beyond. By the same token, we, from the United Nations, are more than happy to share our diverse experiences in preventive diplomacy and peace-making, including the use of the Secretary-General's good offices, facilitation and mediation. Perhaps, we could also explore ways and means enhancing capacities in preventive diplomacy. The United Nations is ready to look deeper into ways of engaging within the various regional architectures including the ARF on peace and security.



Ladies and gentlemen,

About a year ago, in February 2012, we held a workshop, here in Jakarta on lessons learned and best practices of the United Nations and Regional Organisations in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Together with representatives from the African Union and the European Union, we undertook comparative studies of experiences of regional organizations and the UN in these fields. We then came up with ten specific points. Allow me to highlight some of them:

  • To explore, with ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretariat as well as track II organizations, the development of appropriate capacity/tool for ASEAN in good offices, mediation and conciliation.
  • To look into the possibility of establishing a roster of ASEAN mediation and other experts.
  • To provide UN support to the work of defining the role and scope of the proposed ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), as well as building its knowledge base and capacity once it is established.
  • To continue workshops and focused-group discussions in the region with broader participation of civil society organizations, on issues relating to conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.


This Workshop could discuss these and other possible initiatives that could be implemented in a concrete and tangible manner. ASEAN can provide other regions valuable lessons both in the articulation of the vision of a regional community as well as in the dynamics of how they may work together in concretizing that vision. In turn the United Nations may have some experiences of utility to you. Let me assure you that the United Nations stands ready to work with ASEAN in all its efforts to bring peace, stability and benefit to the people of this immensely diverse region.



Ladies and gentlemen,

This Workshop is not meant to be just an academic exercise. We expect your full and active engagement and would welcome your forthright comments. The issues we are considering are key issues the two organizations will need to continue addressing for some time to come. The first formal review of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership will be conducted in October this year under the Chairmanship of Brunei. We must continue our collaborative efforts in implementing the framework agreement as concretely as possible in all four pillars. Our discussions today and tomorrow will, I am sure, provide valuable input for this review process. As this engagement broadens, ASEAN and the United Nations hopefully conduct similar exercises covering the other pillars as well – the Economic Cooperation pillar, the Socio-Cultural Cooperation pillar, and the Secretariat-to-Secretariat Cooperation pillar – so as to have a holistic approach in conducting the review of the implementation of the Comprehensive Partnership.

Let me conclude by repeating what I said at the Jakarta Defense Dialogue a few weeks ago. The UN partnerships with regional organizations are based on the principle of complementarity and burden-sharing. Harnessing the respective strengths of each actor in the maintenance of international peace and security is one of our key priorities, as we work together in ever more challenging environments. I am confident that we shall continue to work together in the future bringing better coherence and effectiveness in our joint efforts for peace and security. We are also confident that this partnership is dynamic and self-renewing as we respond to the changing demands, priorities and specificities of this exceptionally promising region.


Terima kasih [Thank you]

Thank you.