A formal ceremony was held at the ASEAN headquarters in the Indonesian capital city, Jakarta , on August 23 to mark the 46th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh was joined by Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana and representatives of ASEAN members and partner countries at the event.

Opening the ceremony, the ASEAN Secretary General said the event marked a milestone on the bloc’s path towards peace, security, stability, equality, democracy, development and prosperity.

Reviewing the association’s 46-year journey, ASEAN Secretary General Minh emphasised that people are the centre in building and developing the ASEAN Community, which he said, has been made clear in the group’s theme “Our People, Our Future Together” this year.

Apart from opportunities, ASEAN will have to face greater challenges when the target of forming the ASEAN Community by 2015 is nearing, Minh said.

Given this, he called on ASEAN member countries to increase intra-bloc solidarity and cooperation in order to cope with regional and global challenges, including those in food and energy security, climate change, maritime security, smuggling, and drug and trans-border crimes.

The move aims to ensure and maintain a peaceful environment, security, stability and cooperation in the region and the world at large with ASEAN as the centre of the evolving regional architecture, he noted.

Addressing the event, Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana said the ten-member group has shown off its enormous vitality through closer, more comprehensive and effective cooperation between the member countries.

The bloc’s common voice has been raised significantly in the world arena, he said, stressing ASEAN’s important and central role in ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.

President of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN Emaleen Abd Rahman Teo, who is also Brunei ’s Ambassador to ASEAN, said the bloc has proven itself as one of the most successful regional organisations in the world over the past 46 years.

She emphasised the need to encourage young generations to get involved in the group’s integration process and the formation of the ASEAN Community as the youth makes up 60 percent of the ASEAN population.

On behalf of dialogue partner countries, New Zealand Ambassador to ASEAN David Taylor reaffirmed their commitments to back ASEAN and its regional and global integration.

He voiced his hope for further cooperation between the two sides, both in depth and width.

Within the framework of the event, there was an array of activities such as a martial arts performance, the announcement of results of a photo contest designed for ASEAN’s young people, and the display of special dishes of ASEAN member countries.

On this occasion, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights organised a seminar on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh declaration on the AHRD.

Newly-published books on the AHRD and the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015 were also made public.-VNA