‘Asean needs to develop solutions to resolve disputes’

SINGAPORE: Asean needs to deve­lop a more comprehensive way to resolve disputes, said senior Singa­pore diplomat and former Asean chief Ong Keng Yong.

These include reviewing and making recommendations to im­prove a 2004 protocol, which covered enhanced dispute settlement mechanisms to resolve economic disputes, said the former secretary-general of Asean from 2003 to 2008.

Another way is to ensure a 2010 protocol to the Asean Charter on dispute-settlement mechanisms would apply in future instruments, so as to encourage its use in resolving non-economic disputes, he added.

Speaking at a regional forum yesterday, Ong made the suggestions as part of his call to turn the South-East Asian grouping, which is known for the “Asean way” of making regional decisions based on consensus, into a more rules-based body.

“To move forward to become a more rules-based Asean, it is important to see the Asean way as having a symbiotic relationship with a rules-based Asean. Achieving consensus and adhering to international law are both critical aspects of maintaining regional cooperation,” said Ong, who is an ambassador-at-large.

He was speaking to more than 70 academics and experts from the region, including Walter Douglas, the United States Department of State deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs, public diplomacy and regional and security policy in East Asia and the Pacific. The two-day conference focuses on legal issues of importance to the Asean region. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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