The 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related conferences took place on 26 June, 2020, at the Hanoi International Centre inthe Vietnamese capital in the form of a video conference.
At the summit, in the spirit of building mutual trust and confidence and promoting dialogue and co-operation for the benefit of the region and the world, ASEAN leaders agreed to takeappropriate measures against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,establishco-operative relationships with important partners,foster regional economic recovery, and continue strengthening the ASEAN Community.
Vietnam leadership of ASEANAs the chair of ASEAN in 2020, Vietnam has fulfilled its role during the last six months and successfully organised the 36th ASEAN Summit amid the difficulties caused by COVID-19.
Vietnam has beenhailed for its proactive and responsible leadership of ASEAN by many foreign leaders and experts.
Speaking at the plenary session of the summit, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen expressed sincere appreciation for PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc forhis efforts to organise and co-ordinate the eventwith the theme 2020 “Cohesive and Responsive” ASEAN Community.
“This ASEAN Summit reflected Vietnam’s capacity to guide the bloc regardless of the severe challenges caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.”
Deputy Foreign Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,ThongphaneSavanphet,too hailed the success of the summit chaired by Vietnam andthe country’s capacity to leadand organize such a high-level meeting.
At the summit, the leaders of ASEAN member states exchanged views and discussed many issues, including the prevention, detection and control of and response to COVID-19, which isstill posing a threat to many countries,anda joint response to it.
Under Vietnam’s guidance, the members reached consensus on establishing the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and Equipment, the Standard Operation Procedures for Public Health Emergencies Response, and a framework to move forward
ASEAN’s efforts to recover from the impacts of the outbreak.
ASEAN Secretary – General Lim Jock Hoi said: “Held amid the current context of the COVID-19 disease, the 36th ASEAN Summit is a concrete demonstration of the bloc’s solidarity and leadership.”
Dr BalazSzanto, professor of international relations at Thailand’s Webster University, highlighted the central role and key position of Vietnam in ASEAN.
He believed the country is in the best position to lead ASEAN at this critical juncture, especially in achievingsettlements of border disputes at sea as well as other issues on the ASEAN agenda.
Enhancing co-operation for benefit of region, worldIn an article titled‘36th ASEAN Summit made history amid COVID-19 pandemic’, Malaysian News Agency BERNAMA wrote,“Under the chair of Vietnam, the one-day 36th ASEAN Summit, which carried the theme ‘Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN’, saw leaders discussinga wide range of issues and co-operation concerning the region, with focus on the need for a comprehensive post-pandemic recovery plan for ASEAN.”
Hailing the opening remarks of Phuc as the chairman of the summit, thenews agency also saidthat in the second half of 2020 the challenge would be for governments of ASEAN member states to lead the bloc out of this period of adversity, and their success would be a testament to the lasting values and vitality of ASEAN.
At an international press conference and related meetings on June 26, Phuc said: “Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak around the globe and in ASEAN countries, activities have been proactively, promptly and decisively implemented in the spirit of cohesion and proactive adoption within ASEAN.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus, Vietnam has been well in controluntil now. ASEAN member nations have not only been effectively containing and controlling the pandemic, but also accelerating co-operation and integration among ASEAN countries.
“The success of today’s conference clearly demonstrated the spirit of solidarity and a cohesive and responsive ASEAN.”
As the chair of ASEAN 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea. He emphasized the need to promoterespect for the law, especially international law, in addressing regional differences and stressed the importance of building trust and confidence between parties.
Phúc said it is necessary to pursue peaceful resolutionstodisputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law and fully implementthe 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in its entirety andachievean effectiveand substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China consistent with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Speaking at the plenary session, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen said: amid the current global crisis, ASEAN has proved to be an effectively pro-active community… “Cambodia gives great attention to maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea.
“The new developments in the South China Sea reflect the importance of early conclusionof Code of Conduct in order to maintain peace in the South China Sea.
“In this regard, relevant parties should focus on restraints and peaceful conflict solution in accordance to the international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.”
This is the first time a regular ASEAN Summit has been held online during the 53-year history of thebloc, which again underlines the role of Vietnam as chair.
The ASEAN Summit successfully took place with consensus among its memberson a comprehensive statement on building a secure, united, stable, cohesive, and responsive ASEAN Community, and, importantly, preventing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
In a spirit of solidarity and unity, member countries agreed to join handsfor socio-economic recovery post-pandemic. They also agreed to be more cohesive and consistent indevelopingtheregioninto one of peace, solidarity, partnership, and prosperity.