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Enhancing Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and subregional organizations in Enhancing Confidence building and Dialogue in Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Monday, 19 April 2021
H.E. Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York
General Assembly Hall, UNHQ



Thank you, Mr. President.

As a fellow ASEAN member, we commend you for your leadership in advancing cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.

As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his 30 January 2021 briefing to the UNSC: “At this time of increasingly complex challenges for global peace and security, cooperative, and inclusive multilateral efforts, including strong partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, are essential.”

New challenges to promoting and substantiating partnership with the UN

Maintaining international peace and stability remains a serious challenge as many regions and countries in the world still undergo tensions and instability often due to ethnic and racial conflicts, inter-states disputes, transnational crimes, terrorism, among others. These are even exacerbated by non-traditional security threats and new forms of threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to which neither individuals or institutions were prepared for.

Security threats are often multi-dimensional and, as highlighted by the Chair in its concept note, regional and subregional organizations have the comparative advantage of geographical proximity, experience, and in-depth knowledge of local dynamics.

In this context, one challenge for the UN, particularly the Security Council, is knowing when to step in and when to step back and when regional and subregional organizations’ inputs should be made indispensable before any measure or resolution is put forth to the body.

As can be gleaned upon in recent events, we may need to institutionalize the practice of involving the relevant regional and subregional groupings when addressing security issues which hits closer to home. We can take advantage of regional and subregional groupings to help identify sensitivities better. We can take gains from the mutual trust and confidence among the members of regional and subregional groupings to build on support to constructive propositions on conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

The importance of enhancing CBMs and dialogue

In ASEAN, we believe that regionalism and multilateralism are important principles and frameworks of cooperation, and that their strength and value lie in their inclusivity, rules-based nature, and emphasis on mutual benefit and respect. It is in this nature that ASEAN has achieved a level of success in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

We have a shared commitment to maintain and promote peace, security, and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

However, beyond the political commitment to pursue and promote a cooperative relationship is the evolution of ASEAN regionalism anchored on dialogues and consultations towards consensus. The primacy accorded to dialogues and consultations with the aim of arriving at consensus has enabled ASEAN Member States to address issues confronting the region, arrive at approaches acceptable to all as well as manage differences, enabling them to move forward, notwithstanding the diversity in their political, economic and social systems. From our part of the world, we call it the ASEAN Way, a unique manner of dealing with issues, which to some outside observers is something difficult to comprehend but is fully understood by us in ASEAN.

Experiences and lessons learnt

We promote sustainable security in the region by reinforcing strategic trust and mutual confidence within ASEAN and in the wider Asia-Pacific region, helped by reaffirming the principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), enabling the bloc to reap the peace dividend. With a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3 trillion, ASEAN now accounts for 3.5 per cent of the global economy in nominal terms.

There is an opportunity to take advantage of and put into action the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership through the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the UN for the year 2021-2025. As the Partnership continues to uphold ASEAN’s Centrality in the evolving regional architecture, it also aims, among others, to “develop effective partnerships and promote closer cooperation for sustaining peace, in confidence-building measures, preventive diplomacy, humanitarian affairs, peacekeeping and peace-building…”

We recognize the value of holding of annual meetings between the Secretary-General and the Office of the President of the General Assembly during the regular sessions of the General Assembly to further enhance partnership.

Partnership between the UN and regional and subregional organizations

ASEAN’s Community building efforts are complemented and supported by its robust external partnerships, including the United Nations. Beyond being accorded the status of an observer at the UN General Assembly, there are established modalities for ASEAN-UN relations at various levels based on mutual benefit, from Secretariat-to-Secretariat (S2S) interaction between our organizations and the ASEAN-UN Ministerial Meeting all the way to the ASEAN-UN Summit where ASEAN Leaders and the UN Secretary General engage in strategic dialogue.  ASEAN and UN can build on these modalities further by continuing meaningful exchanges on security matters, especially on emerging and non-traditional security threats that we face as time evolves.

Cooperation among regional organizations

As to measures to form and enhance cooperation among regional organizations, prior to that, there must be determination first of the common and most pressing security threats between and/or among regions which are not catered to by existing modalities of cooperation. If such a void exists, then it would be compelling to form new modes of cooperation among regional organizations.

There are pre-existing modalities of cooperation between and among member states. We can put to use our resources better through maximizing existing modes of cooperation rather than through exploring new platforms of exchange.

Mr. President,

There is indeed value in enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in enhancing confidence building and dialogue in conflict prevention and resolution. A key aspect of the effort is maintaining the vigorous exchange of information, ensuring that any decision to be taken is supported by accurate and timely data and informed by the prevailing dynamics among the key actors involved. We also would like to emphasize and reiterate the importance of the primacy and centrality of a particular regional and subregional organization in providing inputs on how to address region-specific issues on conflict prevention and resolution.

Thank you, Mr. President.