Territorial disputes in the South China Sea put Asia at risk, says UN Secretary General

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea are putting at risk Asia’s global goals of prosperity, stability, and dignity for all.

Ban, who was in San Francisco over the weekend to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter, said these include competing territorial or maritime claims, political and communal tensions, and non-traditional security threats such as transnational organized crime and terrorism.

He has consistently called on all parties to resolve their disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful and amicable manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law, including the UN Charter.

“It is now more important than ever to avoid actions that would provoke or exacerbate tensions,” he said.

On the migration crisis in Southeast Asia, Ban said people in search of asylum are being left trapped at sea and saving lives must be the number one priority.

“Resolving this complex situation also requires addressing the root causes of migration, which include human rights violations and lack of economic opportunities,” he said.

On the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, Ban said three years after the inter-communal violence in western Rakhine state, some 130,000 still remain in camps requiring urgent humanitarian assistance.

“The United Nations has, through various channels, strongly urged the government of Myanmar to ensure that the human rights of the Rohingya and other Muslim populations are fully respected and that the longer-term issues of citizenship, identity permits, work permits, and birth registration are properly addressed,” he said.

Ban noted that the “engines of growth and economic power continue to shift with the rise of the Asia-Pacific region as a center of dynamism and influence.”

He said the year 2015 is a “key year” for efforts to establish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community.

“I look forward to seeing regional economic integration, including free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and a freer flow of capital,” he said.

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