Leaders to promote drug-free ASEAN

The Philippine Star

VIENTIANE – Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to work together toward a drug-free region and reaffirmed their commitment to fight terrorism and other security threats.

In the chairman’s statement released upon the conclusion of the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits, the leaders cited previous meetings in Malaysia, Austria and the United States that tackled the drug problem in the region.

“The statements reaffirmed ASEAN’s joint commitment to a zero-tolerance approach in realizing the regional vision of a drug-free ASEAN,” the statement read.

Philippine officials previously said President Duterte would push for a drug-free ASEAN during the conference, his first international engagement since he assumed office last June 30.

The ASEAN leaders also vowed to strengthen cooperation on information sharing and intelligence exchange among drug control and law enforcement agencies in the region.

Members of the regional bloc are also looking to adopt an ASEAN Plan of Action in Combating Transnational Crime in 10 priority areas: terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms smuggling and sea piracy, money laundering, international economic crime, cybercrime, wildlife and timber trafficking. 

“We reaffirmed our commitment to respond to the threats posed by transnational crimes and emerging transboundary challenges in an effective and timely manner,” the ASEAN leaders said.

On countering extremism and terrorism, the ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen coordination and cooperation in countering terrorism through, among others, the implementation of the ASEAN Convention on Counterterrorism and the ASEAN Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counterterrorism, and addressing the root causes of and conditions conducive for terrorism including violent extremism, including through the promotion of the Global Movement of Moderates.

The leaders also expressed their deepest concerns over the recent terrorist attacks in the region and beyond.

“In this regard, we extended our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims of the attacks. We strongly condemn extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations…,” the leaders said.

The ASEAN also adopted nine documents during the three-day summit: the One ASEAN, One Response declaration on disasters; declarations on the adoption of the initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan, master plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, decent work promotion, reinforcing cultural heritage cooperation and strengthening education for out-of-school children and youth; joint statements on biodiversity conservation and climate change, and a declaration of commitment on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which highlighted a commitment to end the epidemic by 2030. 

The leaders also cited the need to achieve the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasized inclusive and people-centered community.

They also committed to strengthen economic ties and improve business environment, including facilitating investment and increasing transparency in the region.

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