Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Le Luong Minh (Photo: VNA)

Geneva (VNA) – Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Le Luong Minh held working sessions at the United Nations Office in Geneva and met with Swiss leaders during a working visit to Switzerland from September 11-15.

Meeting with leaders of the Geneva-based UN Office, ASEAN Secretary-General Minh informed them about the recent development in Southeast Asia, including the bloc’s political and economic achievements, challenges facing the ASEAN Community and the region’s future.

He also introduced ASEAN’s commitments to the UN, especially the ASEAN-UN plan of action until 2020 with the implementation of a joint statement on the ASEAN-UN comprehensive partnership in various fields such as political security, economy, and culture-society.

At the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Secretary-General stressed that human rights are an important content of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Encouraging and protecting human rights and fundamental rights of people are basic principles of the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Blueprint 2025 and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2015.

Notably, the APSC Blueprint 2025 will promote a people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN in which all components of society, regardless of gender, race, religion, language, or social and cultural background, are encouraged to participate in and benefit from the process of ASEAN integration and community building, he said.

Minh added that the grouping established an ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), a regional mechanism to promote and protect human rights and people’s basic freedom rights.

He also underlined significant outcomes in promoting social changes in the ASEAN region, including maternal deaths per 100,000 live births falling by over one-third from 371.2 in 1990 to 103.7 in 2012. The rate of urban population living in slums declined from 40 percent in 2000 to 31 percent in 2012.

On this occasion, a photo exhibition marking ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary was held at the UN Office in Geneva, demonstrating the bloc’s development, diversity and dynamism of the 10-member bloc with a population of over 630 million.

During his trip, the Secretary-General made his first-ever official visit to Berne capital within the framework of ASEAN’s cooperation with Switzerland, one year after ASEAN granted the European nation with the status of dialogue partner.

At his meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, the two sides assessed cooperation outcomes and discussed regional and global economic and geostrategic issues. The meeting was a chance to reiterate Switzerland and ASEAN’s commitments to enhancing bilateral ties, particularly in responding to climate change, preventing natural disaster risks and promoting sustainable development.

On this occasion, an ASEAN Committee was set up in Berne, gathering six diplomatic representative agencies of ASEAN countries in the city.-VNA