Vietnamese Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung, who chairs the ASCC Council in 2020, noted that COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic that has seriously affected people’s health and healthcare systems and caused substantial impacts on socio-economic aspects of all countries around the world, including in ASEAN.
Challenges posed by this outbreak require countries’ governments respond to emergencies to protect people’s lives, stabilise economies, and ensure social security, according to him.
Dung said regarding ASCC activities during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, Vietnam has proposed initiatives and priorities relevant to the development of human resources, enhancement of social work, information and communications, settlement of fake news, COVID-19 response, and post-pandemic recovery.
At the session, participants carried out mid-term review of the implementation of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 so as to identify achievements, challenges, lessons, and solutions to improve the effectiveness of regional cooperation in related fields.
They shared viewpoints on areas needing more attention and promotion in the ASCC as well as anti-COVID-19 efforts, including the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and the post-COVID-19 recovery plan of the ASEAN Community. They pledged to boost support for the ACRF implementation and work out a united strategy for sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
Concluding the meeting, the ministers issued a joint statement and reached consensus on 12 documents and declarations, including two to be submitted to the 37th ASEAN Summit for approval next week, namely the Hanoi declaration on promoting social work towards a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community, and the Narrative of ASEAN Identity.
Meetings of the ASCC Council are biannual events of ministers in charge of relevant areas in the ASCC. They take place right before ASEAN summits to review the implementation of activities and prepare the ASCC’s documents on related cooperation areas for submission to ASEAN summits for approval.