The ASEAN-UN summit will be the first of its kind and will highlight future co-operation between the two organisations and top on the agenda will be co-operation in peace and security policy-making, human resource development and future role of the UN in the region.
The first ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok on Saturday would be the ideal occasion for the announcement of an ASEAN peace-building initiative in East Timor to create its infrastructure for peace, development and justice involving the combined efforts of governments and the civil society in ASEAN.
The current visit of East Timor independence leaders Xanana Gusmao and Nobel Peace prize laureate Jose Ramos-Harta to ASEAN countries should mark a new beginning in the relationship between ASEAN governments with East Timorese leaders, rising above the bitterness of the recent past as reflected in the earlier statement by Ramos Horta that East Timor was part of South Pacific nations, not part of Asean and that Asean members were not neutral but were accomplices of Indonesia.
The commitment by ASEAN governments at the ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok this Saturday to place the rebuilding of the East Timorese economy as an integral part of the ASEAN agenda can be given concrete shape and form when the ASEAN Finance Ministers meet in Brunei for their fourth official meeting on March 25 and 26, 2000.
The United Nations and World Bank have estimated that East Timor needs at least US$100 million a year over the next three years for reconstruction and development, primarily in infrastructure, health, and education.
ASEAN would be able to go a long way to restore its international standing if it could play an active role in the launching of an ASEAN peace-building initiative in East Timor to create its infrastructure for peace, development and justice to enable it to take its rightful place in the comity of nations.