23rd ASCC Council Convenes to Further ASEAN’s Socio-Cultural Cooperation

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23rd ASCC Council Convenes to Further ASEAN’s Socio-Cultural Cooperation
Novia D. Rulistia and The ASEAN Editorial Team
28 Jul 2020
ASEAN Identity and Community Building

The ministers of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) gathered virtually for the 23rd ASCC Council meeting on 23 June 2020 to discuss developments in the socio-cultural sectors in the region, including ASEAN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viet Nam’s Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung, Chair of ASCC Council 2020, said that it is necessary for ASEAN governments to prepare plans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and ensure the welfare of the people.
The ministers will continue working together through regional cooperation to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and identify opportunities to revitalise affected sectors in the region.
With 15 specialised agencies covering various fields, joint intersectoral efforts will enable the potential development of a post-pandemic recovery plan to restore the employment and livelihoods of workers, as well as foster the social and economic recovery of vulnerable groups.
“These commendable joint efforts ensure that ASEAN maintains its course in realising an inclusive, resilient and sustainable ASEAN Community,” the ministers said in its Joint Statement.
Minister Dung said that the virtual senior officials’ meetings and summits were unprecedented in ASEAN’s history. The shift to a technology-mediated approach indicates how COVID-19 has transformed people’s lives, showcasing the value of digital technology in these challenging times. Several digital innovations, like online learning, virtual meetings and exhibitions, and e-commerce have gained popularity during the pandemic.
The ministers also noted Indonesia’s proposal to establish an ASEAN Plus Three Task Force on Pandemics. They also welcomed the proposal of Viet Nam and the ASEAN Secretariat to organise a series of webinars on ASCC-led efforts to address COVID-19.
The Council also discussed the progress of works in other ASCC sectors.
From the labour sector, the Council endorsed the Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work to be adopted by the Leaders at the 36th Summit. The Declaration reaffirms ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen ASEAN cooperation on labour, education, and business sectors, towards promoting new skills for the future, as well as advancing inclusive education and employment.
On ASEAN Identity, the ministers looked forward to the finalisation of “The Narrative of ASEAN Identity” that aimed to instill ASEAN Identity as an inseparable part of daily lives. They acknowledged all activities under the 2020 Year of ASEAN Identity that foster a sense of belonging in building a sharing and caring ASEAN Community.
The progress of the mid-term review of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 was also discussed. Most ASCC sectoral bodies have reviewed their work plans and are currently working on their next five-year plan of actions. The mid-term review is expected to provide recommendations for more effective implementation of the blueprint. The final report of the mid-term review will be submitted to the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020.
The meeting also noted the establishment of the ASEAN TVET Council, marine environment cooperation, and the empowerment of women. The schedule of the ASCC fact-finding mission to Timor Leste, as part of the country’s bid for ASEAN membership, and the progress of seconding ASCC officers to the permanent mission to ASEAN were also discussed.
The ministers will hold their 24th ASCC Council meeting in person this October 2020 in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.