The 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits officially kicked off in Phnom Penh today, with Prime Minister Hun Sen, the current ASEAN chair, calling for increased vigilance on the current socio-economic situation and for commitment to ASEAN’s Motto “ASEAN: One Vision, One Identity, One Community”. The summits will run through November 13, with related meetings to follow.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the summit on the morning of November 11, Hun Sen said that a long list of over 100 outcome documents will be adopted to guide actions and cooperation for the coming years.

The summit will also issue the ASEAN Leaders' Statement on the 55th Anniversary of ASEAN, to be complimented by two others – the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together and the ASEAN Leaders' Statement on ASEAN Connectivity Post-2025 Agenda, to be adopted later today.

“These policy guides affirm our resolve to building the future of ASEAN as a community that is united, inclusive, resilient and rules-based; a community that abounds with opportunities, where all people enjoy seamless connectivity, equitable economic development, a healthy environment and equal social protection.

“A community that remains central to the evolving regional architecture and one that forges external partnerships based on mutual trust and respect for regional and global peace, security and sustainable growth,” he said.

He stated that ASEAN and its individual member states can now declare that they have overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office's October projections, each member state will record a positive economic growth rate, with the ASEAN region as a whole projected to achieve growth rates of 5.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

However, he cautioned: “While we are now enjoying the fruits of our efforts and moving towards sustainable growth, we must remain vigilant, as the current socio-economic situation in ASEAN – as well as the whole world – remains fragile and divided.”

“We are now at the most uncertain juncture; the lives of millions in our region depend on our wisdom and far sightedness, the correct decisions and policies, and a realistic approach to addressing the strategic challenges we all face,” he added.

Hun Sen also called for upholding to the values that ASEAN had built and stood for, with the motto “ASEAN: One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.

“Let us focus on the common goal of mutual development for peace, stability and the betterment of the region. Our close relationships were not created by chance, but through years of hard work, commitment and perseverance.

“We must treasure and be grateful of what we have built, and therefore, maintaining our unity, solidarity and centrality is of utmost priority in order for our region to remain sustainable and resilient through what is to come,” he said.