ASEAN will continue to seriously engage in dialogues with other UN members and friendly organisations, including the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) for the enhanced role of international law in international affairs.

Chargé d’Affaires of Vietnam to the UN, Ambassador Bui The Giang delivered this statement while speaking on behalf of the ASEAN New York Committee on the bloc’s legal development process at the AALCO meeting in New York on Nov. 1.

“We are firmly convinced that, committed to realising a community of Southeast Asian nations that is rule-based, people-oriented and closely integrated, ASEAN is well-positioned to better serve as the key promoter of perpetual peace, everlasting amity, cooperation and prosperity among the peoples in Southeast Asia, as well as an effective partner of the United Nations and countries outside the region,” Giang said.

The ambassador highlighted the ASEAN legal development process in the recent past, stressing that on December 15, 2008, the ASEAN Charter entered into force, marking a momentous development of ASEAN in its endeavor to consolidate, integrate and transform itself into a community.

“From a legal perspective, the Charter has brought ASEAN to a turning point by providing the organisation with a legal personality and various legal and institutional frameworks as an international organsation to act on its own.”

“Under the Charter, ASEAN will transform into a rule-based, people-oriented and closely integrated Community by 2015, based on three pillars: the political and security community, the economic community and the socio-cultural community.”

He went on to say that for the past two years, earnest efforts have been made to put in place the ASEAN Charter which in turn provides the legal basis and institutional framework for the ASEAN Community.

As a result, legal documents necessary for the implementation of the Charter have been issued, including the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of ASEAN (2009), the Protocol to the ASEAN Charter on Dispute Settlement Mechanisms and the Rules of Good Offices, Rules of Mediation, Rules of Conciliation and Rules of Arbitration to be annexed to the Protocol.

Also in April 2010, the ASEAN Coordinating Council adopted the Guidelines on the Use of the “ASEAN” name, Guidelines on the Use of ASEAN Emblem, Guidelines on the use of the ASEAN Anthem and the ASEAN Secretariat Financial Rules and Procedure.

Most recently, the Rules for Reference of Unresolved Disputes to the Summit and the Rules of Authorisation for Legal Transactions under Domestic Laws were adopted at the 17 th ASEAN Summit.

Relevant ASEAN bodies are now tasked to expeditiously finalise the remaining guidelines, terms of references, and rules of procedures, including especially the Rules for Conclusion of Agreements under International Law and the Rules of Procedures for External Parties’ Involvement in ASEAN Meetings or Cooperative Activities.

Giang noted that “To ensure the people-oriented nature and demonstrate collective commitment to good governance of the organisation, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was inaugurated on October 23 last year and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) came into being on April 7 this year, both mandated to promote and protect human rights in accordance with domestic laws of each ASEAN country and relevant international instruments to which ASEAN member states are parties.”

Regarding ASEAN’s achievements in strengthening the rule of law and promoting legal and law enforcement cooperation among ASEAN member states, the diplomat said with the signing of the ASEAN Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in 2004 and the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism in 2007, ASEAN has achieved very important frameworks for legal and law enforcement cooperation.

ASEAN is currently working on two more important instruments, namely the ASEAN Extradition Treaty and the ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons.

To join other Asian countries to fight piracy and armed robbery at sea, 16 Asian states including the 10 ASEAN countries adopted the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia .

To ensure a healthy ASEAN, the ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime was signed in 1997, followed by the adoption of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime in 1999. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers advanced their vision on a “Drug Free ASEAN by 2015” and signed the ASEAN Declaration against Trafficking in Persons, Particularly Women and Children.

On counter-terrorism, ASEAN concluded Joint Declarations to Combat International Terrorism with all its dialogue partners and sectoral partners. It also established joint consultative mechanisms with Dialogue Partners to implement their Joint Declarations, such as the ASEAN – Russia Working Group on Counter Terrorism, ASEAN – Japan Dialogue on Counter Terrorism, the ambassador said./.