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PM: ASEAN, BRICS must restore unity

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Prime Minister Hun Sen gives a speech during the BRICS forum on May 19. SPM

PM: ASEAN, BRICS must restore unity

Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged ASEAN and BRICS – the five major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – to urgently restore multilateralism, which prioritises unity when addressing challenges, especially given recent troubling and rapid developments in global affairs.

He said this at the Second Forum of Political Parties, Research Groups and Civil Society Organisations from BRICS Countries on May 19-20, held under the theme of “solidarity and cooperation towards development together with a bright future”.

Hun Sen said the forum’s theme was a timely response to both traditional and non-traditional challenges that the international community is currently facing.

“In a context where the world is rapidly changing, uncertain and complex, we cannot give up or turn away from multilateral mechanisms if we really intend to address common challenges,” he said. “ASEAN and BRICS, as well as the international community as a whole, need to redouble their efforts to restore multilateralism, which prioritises unity in addressing challenges.”

At the forum, the Prime Minister called on the two groups of countries, as well as the international community as a whole, to continue to pay more attention to the UN rules-based international order, and to promote cooperation rather than confrontation.

“We should not restrain other countries by imposing unilateral sanctions, economic sanctions or other sanctions that violate international law, as well as the core principles and objectives set out in the UN Charter,” said Hun Sen.

Regarding the Covid-19 crisis, he said that ASEAN and BRICS need to encourage closer cooperation to ensure that their member countries are on the right path towards meeting the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

He singled out BRICS member state China for praise, saying he “fully supports” its global development initiatives, “which include international cooperation and efforts to help the least developed countries, especially those that have been seriously affected by the pandemic,” he said.

Hun Sen said all ASEAN member states will redouble their joint efforts to strengthen the bloc’s centrality and resilience. He added that they were also promoting the effective implementation of all agreed initiatives and measures, including the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the Free Trade Agreement, and the capacity of small and medium enterprises and human resource development to meet the needs of the digital age.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said that Hun Sen’s comments reflected the current situation as regards many issues of concern in the world, and that they “require solidarity and cooperation within the framework of multilateralism.”

“Because of [the multinational nature of] security issues, environmental issues and the Covid-19 pandemic, [issues] do not stop at the borders of any one country; they have a global impact. Therefore, the promotion of multilateralism is very important, especially for small countries as well as regional organisations,” he said.

Phea stressed that Cambodia has always needed to depend on the cooperation of other countries in the region and the world to maintain its own peace, stability, security and prosperity, and lamented a slight decline in recent years in such cooperation due to what he noted as the emergence of a unilateral or protectionist trend notably affecting free trade and security.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun noted that the Cambodian leader expressing high regard for the UN-led international system was “an effective way and strategy to increase opportunities for Cambodia to cooperate both economically and politically, and to ensure a strong defence system [for itself] as a small country in Southeast Asia,” he said.

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