Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on other ASEAN member states to avoid wars “in which no one wins and no one loses”, saying they only bring destruction and the loss of people’s lives.

Hun Sen was speaking at the ASEAN Partnership and Leadership Forum 2022 – themed “Partnership for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN – and the official launch of the ASEAN Economic Club (AEC), held on September 12 in Phnom Penh.

“Socio-economic development cannot be achieved unless there is complete stability and peace. In this sense, we must extinguish the flames of war in which no one wins and no one loses,” he said.

The premier cited the prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has disrupted socio-economic activities in the region and beyond. In addition, tensions due to geopolitical competition in some strategic regions, including on the Asian continent, will also continue to pose a risk to stability and prosperity in the region and the world.

He recalled that Cambodia has gone through many wars in its bitter history, but the peaceful resolution of conflicts, mutual understanding and making people’s welfare the main priority are win-win policies that bring about genuine peace and prosperity.

As geopolitical rivalry becomes heated, Hun Sen called on ASEAN to be a model region and work together to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity. He urged the bloc to strengthen unity and centrality by consistently adhering to partnerships and multilateral mechanisms to resolve challenging problems of common concerns.

“We must also take the middle route and play the role of a forum for dialogue and cooperation by strengthening regional architecture that is open, transparent and inclusive and has the rule of law as its basis,” he continued.

He emphasised that Cambodia wants to see the regions in ASEAN and beyond enjoy peace, stability and prosperity through respect for national sovereignty, international law, consistent adherence to multilateral mechanisms and the participation of all parties in dialogue to come up with peaceful solutions to challenging problems in an open manner with mutual understanding and patience.

Michael Yeoh, president of Malaysia’s KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, said at the forum that ASEAN must prioritise community, connectivity, centrality and constitution as the key and important points for the bloc to achieve peace and prosperity.

“On the journey towards prosperity, we must maintain the centrality of people in technology, trust and capacities,” Yeoh, who is also founder and chairman of the ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum, was quoted as saying through an interpreter.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that preventing wars and maintaining peace was important for governments in the region and around the world.

He said maintaining peace allows for development, increases respect for human rights and facilitates human resource development.

“If there is no peace, no political stability, then we can’t talk about development, human rights, democracy or the rule of law. Maintaining peace is crucial, because once a war breaks out, stopping it isn’t easy,” he said.