On April 4, the 20 th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh came to an end after adopting various joint declarations aimed at fostering ASEAN cooperation in the future.

The two-day summit included many important decisions, confirming the strong determination of member countries to enhance community building, bringing the region closer together and promoting sustainable and development across the board. It also advocated stepping up foreign relations and maintaining its central role in the evolving regional structure.

The heads of the member nations unanimously stated that ASEAN should promote dialogue to build up trust within the region and improve standards of conduct as well bring into full play tools and mechanisms on political security cooperation. These included the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

They agreed to boost foreign relations through ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit (EAS), ARF and ADMM+, as well as encourage their partners to play a more pro-active role to foster peace, security, cooperation and development within the region.

The leaders hailed the result of parliamentary by-elections in Myanmar and affirmed the group’s continued support for the country.

They also expressed their concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ’s satellite launch plan and called on concerned parties to soon resume talks and strictly abide by related resolutions of the UN.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the assembled leaders emphasised the importance of ensuring peace, stability and maritime security and safety. They also recognised the importance of respecting the principles of international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and adhering to the DOC so a Code of Conduct (COC) for the East Sea can be agreed upon.

At the 20 th ASEAN Summit Retreat, Vietnam ’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung tabled many important proposals, focusing on regional issues of common concern. Amongst them were the East Sea issue, sub-regional cooperation and measures to strength ASEAN’s role when dealing with newly emerging challenges such as natural disasters, climate change and maritime security.-VNA

He also suggested that ASEAN should put together a declaration on the security of water resources in the region and enhance the bloc’s moves to further foreign relations.

According to the Vietnamese Government leader, peace and stability in the East Sea , including maritime security and safety, is a common concern for the entire region and every member country.

All parties concerned should get together to solve the East Sea dispute by coming up with peaceful solutions in accordance with international laws, particularly the UNCLOS and step up the full implementation of the DOC and the building of the COC, he stressed.

He finished up by saying that the ASEAN Global Dialogue in November 2012, will further enhance cooperation between ASEAN and global financial institutions to deal with emerging economic and financial challenges.