June 29, 2017

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ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community 2015: Where Are We

Daw Shwe Shwe
(Ministry of Culture)

Leaders of ASEAN nations pose for photo in ASEAN way at 25th ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw.
Leaders of ASEAN nations pose for photo in ASEAN way at 25th ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw.

 

This year 2015 is significant for us as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will establish the ASEAN Community (that covers all its three pillars – the ASEAN Political-Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community)  on 31 December 2015, and it reaches a significant milestone in its history.
Background History of ASCC
The ASEAN Leaders adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II ( Bali Concord  II ) in Bali, Indonesia on 7 October 2003 to establish an ASEAN Community by 2020. It covers  three pillars, namely political and security community , economic community, and socio-cultural community that are closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.
At the 12th ASEAN Summit on 13th January 2007 in Cebu, the Philippines the Leaders, affirming their strong committed by 2015, signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
The 13th ASEAN Summit held in Singapore on 20th November 2007, agreed to develop an ASCC Blueprint to ensure that concrete actions are undertaken to promote the establishment of an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).
The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community aims to contribute to realizing an ASEAN Community that is people-oriented and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the peoples and Member States of ASEAN. It seeks to forge a common identity and build a caring and sharing society which is inclusive and where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced.
ASCC is focused on nurturing the human, cultural and natural resources for sustained development in a harmonious and people-oriented ASEAN.
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint (2009-2015)
The ASCC Blueprint (2009-2015)  was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit on 1 March 2009 in Cha-am/Hua Hin, Thailand.
The ASCC Blueprint represents the human dimension of ASEAN cooperation and upholds ASEAN commitment to address the region’s aspiration to lift the quality of life of its peoples. The goals of the ASCC are envisaged to be achieved by implementing concrete and productive actions that are people-centred and socially responsible. This set of cooperative activities has been developed based on the assumption that the three pillars of the ASEAN Community are interdependent and interrelated and that linkages are imperative to ensure complementarity and unity of purpose.
With the aim of ASCC, we are trying to moving forward to be peaceful and prosperous ASEAN Community with the cooperation and coordination of other two pillars of APSC and AEC. Also within our ASCC Community, we are trying to moving to be people-centered and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN with the cooperation of among ourselves / AMS.
We are committed to build the ASEAN Community by 2015 and ASEAN is driven to be people centered community. In accordance with this aim/goal, we identify the priority areas to be discussed in every year agenda that focus on contributing to the realization of a people –centered and people-oriented ASEAN Community.
We all have witnessed how ASEAN has endured and overcome the regional issues and try its resilience and sustain its “ One Vision, One Identity and One Community” in its establishment of 48 years. That is why through its individual and collective efforts, ASEAN has become more united in striving for the establishment of an economically dynamic, politically peaceful, prosperous and stable, and socially caring community.
The challenges of ASEAN today are more complex, multifaceted and transnational in nature which calls for more coordinated and comprehensive solutions and we believe socio- cultural pillar is the one which can deviate and minimize the regional issues and promote more ASEAN identity among all member states. Nurturing the human, cultural and natural resources for sustained development in a harmonious and people-oriented ASEAN is which ASEAN Socio Cultural Pillar is focusing. Moreover, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community aims to contribute to realising an ASEAN Community that is people-oriented and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity.
We all ASEAN Member states are trying to promote cooperation in culture to help build an ASEAN identity. To promote ASEAN awareness and a sense of community, preserve and promote ASEAN cultural heritage, promote cultural creativity and industry, and engage with the community are the essence of ASCC Pillar.  Since ASEAN Leaders envision ASEAN as a community of caring societies, conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural heritage and bound by a common regional identity, the ASCC Community is to strive its objectives by strategies been mentioned in the ASCC Blueprint.
We also recognize that the long-term goal of ASCC is a people-centred and socially- responsible ASEAN Community that achieves enduring solidarity and unity among all nations and people in Southeast Asia since ASEAN is a region of immense and colourful cultural diversity, one that shares common historical threads.
Another achievement ASCC Pillar can make is the significance of the Mid-Term Review of the implementation of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint. ASEAN  sectoral bodies  and  ASCC  national focal  points can work closely  collaborate  in  the  mid-term  evaluation exercise and also submitted its Mid Term Review Report to the 24th ASEAN Summit. As we are aware, ASCC continues to focus on contributing to the realization of a people-centered community with almost 90% being addressed through the implementation of various activities of Science and Technology, Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Health, Environment, Culture and Information, Education, Youth and Sports, Labour and Migrant Workers, Women and Children, Poverty Eradication and Rural Development and Civil Service Matters.
With our consensus, mutual respect and assistance, focusing on harmonizing, we can also sustain the : “Unity in Diversity” and revive the “ASEAN Way”. We all have convinced these earned contributions and dedications made strong moves to strengthen cooperation and integration within ASEAN.
The ASEAN Community that we will launch on 31December 2015 is a community of opportunities, under three community pillars: Political-Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community. It identifies ASEAN as a community that aims to instil a sense of belonging and identity among its citizens, and that brings new opportunities to the people of ASEAN and the broader global community. The launch of the ASEAN Community is very significant as it signals to the rest of the world how far and how well the ASEAN Member States have achieved in coming together as one community.  It is a historic milestone for the region, and a culmination of ASEAN’s resilience and dynamism throughout a journey that spans nearly half a century. The ASEAN Community also brings a common identity for the people of ASEAN. This helps to build a caring and sharing society which is inclusive and where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced.
The community that creates new opportunities that continues to benefit its people, and bring them closer to each other. It is a historic achievement for the region throughout a journey that spans nearly half a century. Regarding to ASCC, these opportunities include better health for our children and women; more educational opportunities for young people; and a more sustainable environment that can provide the needs of our present and future generations, among others. These socio-cultural areas of work cover education, human rights, disaster relief, women and children, health and environmental sustainability. ASEAN collective actions have contributed to the promotion and protection of human rights of women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, migrant workers, the poor and other vulnerable groups.
Through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), the region has provided quick and tangible humanitarian assistance during times of disasters in a Member State as shown in the experiences of typhoon Nargis in Myanmar, the tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand, and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The AHA Centre is at the forefront of ASEAN’s strategy to put resilience at the centre of its key institutions and thereby meet the challenges faced by a region prone to natural disasters and highly vulnerable to climate change. Such institutions actively collaborate to address the region’s exposure and vulnerability to the risks.
As it is mentioned in above, the year 2015 is a watershed in building the ASEAN Community; it will mark the realization of the ASEAN Community and a demonstration of our commitment, and it is also an important time for us to shape the future of ASEAN to be people-centered and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN. Likewise, it is also a
starting point / first step to run for the Post-2015.
First priority of our target is building the ASEAN Community by 2015 and after that second priority is we need to consider and take action for Post-2015. So, it calls for cooperation and intensified efforts among ASEAN Member States to collaborate across sector on cross- cutting issues.
Regarding to the ASEAN Post-2015, we have already identified the central elements and action lines with the consultation with different ASCC sectoral bodies to be implemented for after 2015, and it is also assigned to all of us. ASCC sectoral bodies play a key role in implementation of ASCC action lines in accord with their respective timeline/work schedule. So, it calls for cooperation and intensified efforts among ASEAN Member States to collaborate across sector on cross-cutting issues.
Our vision of ASEAN for 2025 is that of a truly people-oriented, people-centred community that is responsive to and inclusive of our peoples and all relevant stakeholders. By being people-oriented, we see our citizens not just as beneficiaries but active partners in development. Therefore, we listen to our people and engage them in planning and implementing our development programmes. By being people-centred, we put our people’s needs and aspirations at the centre of our community-building efforts. Bringing peace, prosperity, and happiness to our people is what inspires our goals and actions.
The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community envisions enhancing the commitment, participation and social responsibility of ASEAN people; promoting equal access and opportunity for all, as well as promoting and protecting human rights; promoting balanced social development and sustainable environment that meet the current and future needs of the people; enhancing capacity and capability to collectively respond and adapt to emerging trends and challenges; and strengthening ability to continuously innovate and be a proactive member of the global community.
ASEAN Community Vision 2025 will continue to promote Southeast Asia as a region of peace, stability and prosperity, as well as an inter-connected, and a caring and sharing community with unity in diversity.
Therefore, here, we would like to draw your attention that we all must continue ASEAN to build up on capacity to promote regional peace, stability, prosperity and social harmony. We must continue to be outward looking by exerting greater efforts for more consolidated external relations and improved efficiency of ASEAN led processes and jointly work together for the Post 2015.

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