Written by, H.E Samheng Boros
Cambodia assumed the role of ASEAN Chair in 2002, only three years after joining the Association, and the country demonstrated its ability and capacity to carry out its mandate.
Cambodia has helped to reduce tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) by successfully completing the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), a landmark document that embodies ASEAN and China’s collective commitment to promote peace, stability, mutual trust, and confidence in the region.
Cambodia hosted the first Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Summit to strengthen GMS cooperation. To enhance ASEAN-India cooperation, Cambodia hosted the first ASEAN-India Summit.
During its second chairmanship in 2012, Cambodia successfully hosted the 20th and 21st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh.
On the economic front, slowing economic growth in the United States, concern about the fiscal cliff, and the EU debt crisis added to the region’s economic and financial uncertainties.
In this context, it was the ASEAN Chair’s responsibility to ensure that ASEAN continued to move forward despite ongoing regional problems and disputes. Cambodia did this successfully in 2012 to boost ASEAN’s credibility and cohesiveness.
Cambodia, for example, presided over the long-awaited ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the Bali Concord III Plan of Action (2013-17), which outlined a common platform for ASEAN’s external relations.
Just after the 21st ASEAN Summit, Cambodia successfully hosted the first ASEAN Global Dialogue.
ASEAN also officially launched the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, agreed to establish the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre in Cambodia, and launched the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand, with Cambodia serving as chair.
Cambodia also convinced the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Brazil, the first Latin American country, to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).
Cambodia facilitated the adoption of the Joint Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the DOC, which reaffirms ASEAN and China’s joint commitment to promoting peace, stability, and mutual trust and confidence through the DOC’s continued implementation.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also approved ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the SCS, paving the way for ASEAN and China to begin negotiating a Code of Conduct (COC).
Cambodia officially assumed the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on October 28, 2021, for the third time since joining the group in 1999.
As ASEAN Chair in 2022, Cambodia has been actively involved in expanding and strengthening cooperation and partnership in all forms and fields, including socio-economics, trade, investment, and politics, with friendly countries, development partners, and international communities, in both national and regional frameworks, particularly by organizing dialogues involving all stakeholders.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has accepted Timor Leste as its 11th member in principle in Phnom Penh, under Cambodia’s chairmanship in 2022. The half-island country, officially known as Timor Leste, will also be granted observer status at high-level ASEAN meetings, the bloc announced after a regional leaders’ summit in Phnom Penh.
“In the future, ASEAN must strongly promote the values that have made ASEAN successful over the past five decades.” “It is the result of hard work and perseverance that we must all cherish in order to continue to record success in the future,” said Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, at the opening ceremony.
During the meeting in Cambodia’s capital, the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) adopted a number of statements aimed at further promoting cooperation for post-pandemic recovery and addressing key challenges together.
The three documents adopted at the meeting were the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on ASEAN’s 55th Anniversary, the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together, and the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on ASEAN Connectivity Post-2025 Agenda. The meeting was presided over by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen.
Under Cambodia’s chairmanship, ASEAN developed a number of frameworks, strategies, and policies, as well as expanded partnerships with countries other than the United States and China. ASEAN is remaining neutral in this competition and does not wish to take sides. ASEAN wishes to collaborate with all countries.
Cambodia wishes to see true sustainable and inclusive peace, stability, and prosperity in the ASEAN region and throughout the world, with respect for each country’s sovereignty, compliance with international laws and adherence to multilateral mechanisms based on dialogues with stakeholder participation and joint efforts to address challenges in a peaceful, open, understanding, and patient manner.
H.E Samheng Boros is Minister attached to the Prime Minister , Royal Government of Cambodia and Chairman of National Social Assistance Fund Board (NSAF) and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY).