Statment at the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, New York, 29 September 2008




At the Informal
ASEAN Ministerial Meeting
New York, 29 September 2008

First of all I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Thailand for the excellent preparations and arrangements for this meeting. I also wish to congratulate Thailand on the passage of the ASEAN Charter by its House of Representatives on 10 September 10 and by its Senate on 16 September, which completes the ratification of the Charter in Thailand.

In Indonesia, my President has formally submitted the Charter submitted to the House of Representatives, which in turn established a Special Committee to deliberate on the Charter with the Government.
We have met twice with this Committee this September and we are scheduled to meet in series again in early October. We intend to conclude deliberations before the end of October. We are on track to ratifying the Charter before the middle of November 2008. That will allow its entry into force at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok this coming December.

There are many aspects of the Charter, however, that needs urgent follow up. One of them has to do with ASEAN’s legal personality, which we have envisioned would make a great deal of difference. I therefore look forward to the completion of the work of the High-level Legal Experts Group that has been tasked with elaborating on ASEAN’s legal personality and on various other legal aspects of the Charter.
We should continue to prepare for the establishment of the Committee of Permanent Representatives as another important follow-up to the Charter. In this regard, we should be discussing throughly the issue of immunities and privileges not only of the Permanent Rerpresentatives but also of officials of member states participating in ASEAN activities in ASEAN territories.
It is also high time for us to start discussing Laissez Passez, which is an ASEAN travel document that can greatly enhance mobility of our officials. Moreover, I would like to inform Colleagues that my delegation is formulating a draft Host Country Agreement in consultation with the ASEAN Secretariat.
As we prepare for the entry into force of the Charter, we need to discuss our external relations with dialogue partners and with those countries, regional organizations and international institutions that wish to enter into relations with ASEAN.
As there are many parties that wish to become partners of ASEAN, let us assign our officials to review and redefine our relationships with our partners and set up clear criteria that will guide us in deciding their status.
We should be clear as to what benefits we expect from these partners as we carry out our external relations. We should also set priorities for our external relations based on our interest. It should be in this spirit that we reassess our relations with SADC, Mercosur, GCC, the Rio Group and others that wish to enter into relations with ASEAN.
On the restructuring of the ASEAN Secretariat, I am heartened by the progress of the work on its new structure. Our officials have taken into account the three pillars of ASEAN community building in designing the proposed new structure.
However, I think the new structure needs to be more adapted to the Charter, to reflect the new dimensions of ASEAN after the Charter has entered into force. Hence, there is need for the establishment of a division that will demonstrate ASEAN’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. This division will support and facilitate the work of the ASEAN Human Rights body.
We should also ensure that the Secretariat’s new structure also take into account the need for ASEAN to be more people-centered. Another division should therefore be created to cater to civil societies.
As we deliberate on the new structure of the Secretariat, let us envision a Secretariat that is effective, efficient and accountable, one that can come to grips with new challenges. In this regard, we look forward to the study undertaken by the Secretariat on the financial requirements for staffing, performance indicators, and the privileges and immunities that the Secretariat’s staff should be entitled to.
As to the preparations for the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits as well as the preparations for the 3rd ASEAN-UN Summit, Indonesia commends the briefing by Thailand on these activities. We agree with the proposal for the arrangement of next year’s meetings on the basis of the new ASEAN structure.
In the preparation for the deliberations that will be held at the 14th Summit, our officials have done excellent work: they are about to complete the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint, the ASEAN Socio-cultural Blueprint and the Second Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan. All these will be submitted to the Summit for endorsement by our Leaders.
With regard to next year’s Summits, the Charter mandates that there will be two Summits in a year. There is, however, the question of when to hold the Community Council and Coordinating Council meetings. Indonesia is flexible with regard to proposals to convene the Community Council meetings in parallel and back-to-back with those of the Coordinating Council or for each Council to decide on when it will meet.
As a matter of principle, the Coordinating Council should schedule its meeting after the conclusion of the Community Council’s meeting so as to coordinate their report to the Summit.
As to the ASEAN-UN Summit, we should maintain the momentum gained from the successful collaboration of the UN and ASEAN in delivering humanitarian aid to Myanmar in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. The MOU signed between the UN Secretary-General and the ASEAN Secretary-General should be followed up with concrete activities that may involve relevant UN Funds and Programmes.
On other matters on the agenda, I am pleased to note the steady progress in the meetings between Thailand and Cambodia to peacefully resolve their territorial dispute. I hope that the meeting of the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation of Land Boundary in October 2008 will significantly advance their common efforts to find a just and peaceful solution acceptable to both sides. It is my sincere hope that ASEAN Member states will always be able to settle their differences in the framework of an ASEAN family.
In the context of APEC, Indonesia welcomes the draft comprehensive paper on the proposed appointment of a fixed-term executive director to head the APEC Secretariat. I hope that creation of the new position will improve APEC cooperation and coordination. It is important that the position of executive director will be filled on the basis of merit and professionalism.
I welcome the proposal to hold an ASEAN-MERCOSUR Ministerial Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on 24 November 2008. The meeting will strengthen cooperation between the two organizations. As this will be the first meeting between the two sides, we should focus on exploring possible areas of collaboration.
Certainly, we should not limit ourselves to trade and economic cooperation. We should also consider cooperation on climate change, promoting energy security and food security, and fighting transnational crime.
Since our two regions are both prone to natural disasters, it would be useful if we could also exchange views on emergency preparedness and disaster management.
Finally, as Colleagues are aware, Indonesia will be hosting the Bali Democracy Forum on 10-11 December 2008. In the forum, participants will share experiences and best practices in developing democratic institutions. In this regard, I do hope that ASEAN Colleagues will be able to actively participate in that forum.

Thank you.