INDONESIA: Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have unanimously decided to change the name of the ASEAN Secretariat to the ASEAN Headquarters.
This historic decision was reached during the 43rd ASEAN Summit held in Jakarta on Tuesday (5 Sep).
“All leaders have agreed to change the nomenclature because, once again, the leaders are united in strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat,” stated Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi during a media briefing.
This name change is in line with ASEAN’s ongoing efforts to reinforce its Secretariat. Foreign Minister Retno emphasized that the alteration aims to bolster the ASEAN Secretariat and enhance decision-making mechanisms.
ASEAN has traditionally employed a consensus-based system for decision-making, requiring unanimous agreement from all member states.
In addition, Retno noted that ASEAN leaders discussed the vision for the ASEAN Community 2045. Retno announced that ASEAN leaders have approved decision-making mechanisms related to the establishment of this vision.
“Leaders acknowledged that the decision-making mechanism aligns with the priority of strengthening ASEAN leaders,” she said.
In detail, Retno counted 11 documents adopted during the plenary session of the 43rd ASEAN Summit. One of the core documents is the use of ASEAN Concord IV as the foundation for the formulation of the ASEAN 2045 Vision.
Among the other documents was the adoption of the declaration on the ASEAN Human Rights Dialog. Retno viewed this document as a new development within ASEAN and an achievement of the Indonesian government.
Therefore, Retno conveyed the government’s commitment to advance, promote and protect human rights， “Hence, we aspire to have regular ASEAN human rights dialogues, which ASEAN leaders adopted,” Retno said.
The ASEAN Secretariat was established in February 1976 by ASEAN Foreign Ministers. According to an agreement between the Indonesian government and ASEAN, Indonesia provided the location for the ASEAN Secretariat’s office in South Jakarta, officially inaugurated in 1981 by then-Indonesian President Soeharto.
The ASEAN Secretariat functions as an organ of ASEAN dedicated to enhancing coordination among ASEAN bodies and implementing various activities and projects within the framework of ASEAN cooperation. The Secretariat is led by the Secretary-General.
Regarding the renaming of the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Director-General for Cooperation Sidharto R. Suryodipuro explained that it represents ASEAN leaders’ commitment to strengthening the ASEAN diplomatic process.
“In light of the increasing number of key meetings taking place there, but also in the context of strengthening the role of ASEAN ambassadors and the East Asia Summit,” Sidharto said during the same occasion.
Furthermore, Sidharto noted that East Asian countries have their ambassadors in Jakarta who regularly convene to discuss various issues. Therefore, strengthening the Secretariat will also serve to enhance diplomatic facilities in support of ASEAN.
“In essence, the strengthening of the ASEAN diplomatic process is necessary amid the escalating turmoil in the region,” he stated.