The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs acting as Foreign Minister, Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, has suggested that ASEAN focus on a thematic approach rather than pillar based approach in formulating overarching vision to address cross-cutting issues in the ASEAN Community building process.
Mr. Sihasak made his comment at the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and other related meetings in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting discussed the ASEAN Community building efforts and emphasized the need to intensify the implementation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint. It also discussed the setting of the vision of post-2015 ASEAN.
A report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Permanent Secretary expressed his views that the regional landscape is still being influenced by shifting geo-politics especially relations among the major powers: the US-China relation, relations between China, Japan and Republic of Korea and tensions in the South China Sea.
With regard to the issue of South China Sea, ASEAN Member States expressed their appreciation to Thailand for being the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations. There seems to be a positive development with China calling for an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Regarding developments outside the region, which include the downing of MH17, the situation in Ukraine and Gaza Strip where innocents have died including one Thai worker, the Permanent Secretary stressed that ASEAN cannot be idle. He expressed the need to come up with common position on global issues in order for ASEAN’s voice to be heard and respected in the international community.
In the meeting between ASEAN Foreign Ministers and representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Thailand called on AICHR to continue constructive engagement with its stakeholders, including civil society, to ensure a people-centered community and to use the Guidelines on the AICHR’s Relations Civil Society Organization (CSO), which will provide a framework for future cooperation between ASEAN and CSOs.
In addition, Thailand is of the view that human development and human rights agenda must be cultivated in all three pillars in order to guarantee a people-centered ASEAN community. It would also like to see AICHR play a protection role of human rights.