The activities of the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community (ASCC) in 2010 have distinctly reflected Vietnam’s role in orienting priorities for the Community and formulating a roadmap to implement these priorities with regard to ASEAN member countries’ benefits and interests.
“Through ASEAN Socio-cultural Community’s activities in 2010, Vietnam has contributed to asserting the Socio-cultural Community’s position in the process of building the ASEAN Community and its coordinating role in specialised areas in order to realise ASEAN member countries’ priorities,” Vietnamese Minister of Labour, War Invalids, and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said.
Ngan, who held the Chair of the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community in 2010, made these assessments while reviewing the ASCC’s performance in the past year.
ASEAN operated successfully under Vietnam ’s presidency in 2010, with its power and central position being a driving force in a strengthened cooperative regional architecture, Ngan said.
She said the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community’s major goal was to contribute to building the people-centred ASEAN Community, equipped with social responsibilities that aim to establish a long-lasting solidarity and unity among ASEAN countries and nations, to advance towards a common identity and a mutual, cooperative and open society where people enjoyed improved living standards and social welfare.
To realise the above goal, ASEAN leaders in March, 2009 adopted a master plan for the ASCC designed to concentrate on promoting human development, ensure social welfare and insurance, enhance rights and social equality, ensure sustainable environment, create an ASEAN identity and narrow development gaps, Ngan recalled, noting that 340 activities in 40 components of the plan will be carried out through 2015.
As the ASCC Chair in 2010, Vietnam generated initiatives and defined priorities for the community’s operation and cooperation in labour and social affairs, dealing with global challenges, developing human resources in the economic recovery, enhancing social welfare and development for ASEAN women and children, and boosting cultural cooperation to raise public awareness of ASEAN and the building of the ASEAN Community.
The country has actively coordinated with local ministries and sectors while consulting as well as lobbying ASEAN member countries to agree on the contents and drafts of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources and Skills Development for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth, and the Hanoi Declaration on the Enhancement of Welfare and Development for ASEAN Women and Children, before submitting them to the 17 th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi for approval, Ngan said.
Besides successfully organising a host of conferences and forums on labour, human resources and development for ASEAN women and children, Vietnam enthusiastically promoted cooperation in healthcare, education and labour environments.
Regarding climate change, Ngan said, ASEAN Environment Ministers gave the nod to correlations to the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative (ACCI), agreeing to establish an ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change and coordinate with dialogue partners and international organizations in tackling current issues relating to climate change.
On the management of natural disasters and humanitarian aid, the Vietnamese minister, said ASEAN would continue to play the major role in coordinating aid in the aftermath of typhoon Nargis, implement the ASEAN agreement on natural disaster management and response to emergency cases, which took effect from Dec. 24, 2009, and establish the ASEAN centre for coordinating humanitarian aid in natural disaster management.
Touching upon healthcare, Ngan said, ASEAN had developed a website and communication network on newly emerging contagious diseases in the region and at the same time was intensifying surveillance and preparedness to any epidemics that may occur, and strengthening the responsive system through multi-sectoral collaboration, the sharing of information and the promotion of multinational accessibility.
The promotion and defence of the rights of women, children and migrant labourers has seen remarkable advancements, with the establishment of the Committee on Promotion and Protection of Rights of Women and Children in Hanoi in April, 2010 and the compilation of documents on protecting and enforcing the rights of migrated labourers, according to Ngan.
Reviewing problems and challenges, Minister Ngan emphasised that the implementation of the ASCC Master Plan needed to be sped up by raising the sense of self-control among ASEAN member countries, actively carrying out agreed decisions and ensuring ASEAN initiatives were implemented in each of the group’s members.
From now to 2015, ASEAN needs to solidify its strategy, use a better mechanism to mobilise and effectively manage all resources from its member countries as well as from its partners, and better its monitoring mechanism, Ngan said.
“The implementation of commitments set forth within the framework of ASCC at both national and regional levels will create important advancements in carrying out the ASCC Master Plan in service of the realisation of an ASEAN Community by 2015,” Ngan said./.