VietNamNet Bridge – Leaders from ASEAN countries yesterday officially established the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights at the opening of the 15th ASEAN Summit in Thailand.

ASEAN leaders mark their 15th Summit with the opening of a joint commission on human rights.

The leaders said the establishment of the commission was a milestone in the construction of the ASEAN community and would commit each member to the promotion and protection of human rights.

In meetings with representatives of youth and ASEAN civil society organisations, the leaders stressed the importance of two-way dialogues and the contributions of these bodies in policymaking and implementation of the ASEAN Charter.

Speaking to representatives of young people, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hailed them as “the future of the ASEAN community” and asked them to work closely on regional issues, namely education, environment protection, economic integration and sustainable development.

In his talks with the civil society organisations, Dung said ASEAN was working hard to build an incorporated community as laid down in the ASEAN Charter, so it would be up to civil organisations to inform and advise their governments in making important decisions.

He pledged that Viet Nam, in the position of ASEAN’s chair next year, would support all practical efforts of civil society organisations.

The ASEAN leaders also worked with ASEAN Business Advisory Council before joining a painting exhibition featuring the bloc’s community.

Yesterday Dung also expressed his delight at the increasing co-operation between the parliaments of ASEAN member countries and the activities and achievements of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly over recent years.

Dung made the comments at a meeting with his ASEAN counterparts in an unofficial dialogue with representatives from the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

At the meeting, ASEAN leaders underscored the importance of bilateral dialogue and called upon the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly to contribute to making policies, implementing the ASEAN Charter and building the ASEAN Community by 2015 based on the three pillars of politics-security, economy and society and culture.

Dung stressed the increasing role of the Inter-Parliamentary General Assembly and member parliaments in implementing the target of building the ASEAN Community.

He said he hoped Viet Nam would receive the support and assistance from other countries in its hosting of ASEAN events and the 31st Inter-Parliamentary General Assembly in September next year.

Also at the meeting, vice Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly Tong Thi Phong, on behalf of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly delegation, said it was an important forum for the two organisations of the region to exchange opinions in order to reach common ground in dealing with regional issues, and to further co-ordination on implementing targets set by the ASEAN Charter.

She suggested promoting regular interaction between the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, member parliaments and between the Assembly and ASEAN in building legislative initiatives in order to harmonise ASEAN countries’ laws.

Aside from the main summit, Dung will attend concurrent summits for ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit, which will be attended by leaders from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The 15th ASEAN Summit is the second event to take place after the ASEAN Charter took effect in order to make the organisation’s operations more effective, contributing to enhancing the alliance between the community’s members and co-operation with non-bloc partners.

Speaking at the opening of the summit, Thai PM Abhisit Veijjajiva said the ASEAN bloc, with its solidarity, had succeeded in weathering global and regional challenges such as the financial crisis, climate change, food security, natural disasters and epidemics. He showed his confidence that the bloc would continue developing prosperously toward becoming a comprehensive community by 2015.

On the sidelines of the summit, Dung received Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long yesterday and the two agreed measures should be worked out to develop their bilateral ties in a stable and sustainable manner.

Dung said he was pleased with the effective co-operation between the two countries, especially in trade and investment.

Industrial zones invested in by Singaporean businesses had been spreading quickly in the port city of Hai Phong and the northern province of Bac Ninh, Dung said.

The two sides spoke highly of the Viet Nam-Singapore Connection Framework and planned to have it cover more areas of co-operation next year when Lee Hsien Loong was planning to visit Viet Nam.

Lee Hsien Loong welcomed Viet Nam’s admission to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a special observer and pledged support for Viet Nam’s bid to join as an official member.

Dung asked Singapore to provide more scholarships to Vietnamese students and expand education co-operation.

The two sides acknowledged the recently signed memorandum of understanding on defence co-operation played a significant role in boosting trust and friendship between the two countries.

They shared the view that the building of an ASEAN economic community was a priority and that members of the ASEAN block needed to build compatible infrastructure for road, waterway and railway transport as well as a communication system good enough for regional reception.

They agreed that the East Sea issue had to be handled through peaceful negotiations in accordance with international conventions and the Code of Conduct of involved parties signed between ASEAN and China in 2002.

Lee Hsien Loong was confident Viet Nam would do well as the chair of ASEAN next year and offered any assistance needed.

Also yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who doubles as Foreign Minister, met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman.

Both sides identified trade and investment co-operation as priorities together with tourism, education and oil and gas exploration.

The two also discussed ways to boost fishing co-operation and sea patrol. –VietNamNet/VNS