Asean to back member candidates as UN representatives

national September 28, 2013 00:00

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Na

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New York - ASEAN FOREIGN ministers yesterday agreed to endorse potential representatives to the United Nations as "Asean candidates" with all Asean members throwing their support behind the chosen candidate.

 This means Thailand’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) would be made as a representative of Asean with all members throwing their support behind the bid, Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said yesterday.
Malaysia would be first to join the race for a seat as a UNSC non-permanent member for a two-year term from 2015 to 2016. Thailand would then seek election to the UNSC as a representative of Asean in 2017 and 2018.
Asean members would help the two countries campaign for their candidacies respectively, Surapong said. “It is a tradition that we [Asean] do not compete with each other, but instead help members have a role on such UN bodies,” he said.
This principle would be applied to all members seeking elected positions on UN bodies. Thailand and Vietnam would also apply for membership of the UN Human Rights Council for different terms.
However, members would not take Asean assistance for granted, but would also work to ensure the success of the candidates. Surapong led the Thai delegation this week to meet bilateral and multilateral counterparts in a bid to seek support for its UNSC bid.
Yesterday, Surapong met leaders from Guatemala, Ecuador and Kosovo at the UN to seek their support. On Tuesday, the Thai cabinet threw its support behind Kosovo and officially endorsed it as an independent state. 
Surapong also signed a memorandum of understanding with Ecuador on visa exemptions for diplomats and officials as well as a document to boost diplomatic ties with the South American country.
Asean ministers also met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss the UN Millennium Development Goal and post-goal vision. Ban raised the issue of human rights, heathcare and climate change with Asean ministers, Surapong said.
Surapong will be in New York this week and the next, representing Thailand at the UN General Assembly. He will also hold a number of sideline meetings with other member states during his visit. In addition to meetings with other Asean members, he also attended the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) ministerial meeting, which yesterday agreed to Kuwait’s proposal to establish a secretariat office in Kuwait and the first secretary-general position to the ACD, which would be held by Thailand.
Established in 2002, the ACD has 33 members across Asia. During the meeting yesterday, Turkey was endorsed as the newest member. Thailand has acted as ACD coordinator since the body was set up.
During the meeting, Surapong said he had raised the issue of food and energy security, as well as proposed the exchange of food and energy security assistance among ACD members. “We could have food and energy security among our members like Middle Eastern countries have oil,” he said.

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