Ministers of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council convened the 16th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council meeting today, preceded by the 21st Senior Officials Committee for the ASCC (SOCA).

At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Lao PDR H.E. Dr Thongloun Sisoulith stressed that ASEAN, despite its great diversity, has successfully overcome challenges in various aspects to become 'One ASEAN' as manifested in the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015. He highlighted the importance of socio-cultural cooperation in addressing new issues and challenges in security, pandemic diseases, climate change, air pollution and natural disasters which cause enormous damage to human life, property and valuable historic cultural heritage.

Following Lao PDR's ASEAN Chairmanship theme of "Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community," the SOCA and ASCC Council meetings have endorsed several declarations and statements for adoption by the Leaders at the forthcoming 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits. These include declarations and statements that solidify commitment of member states in ASCC priorities such as ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One; Transition from Informal Employment to Formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotion in ASEAN; Strengthening Education for out-of-school Children and Youth; Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation in ASEAN; Fast tracking and sustaining HIV and AIDS responses to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030; Cooperation in Biological Diversity and Climate change; Transboundary Haze Pollution Control; and Culture and the Arts to Promote ASEAN's identity.

Chaired by Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of Lao PDR H.E. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, and attended by ASCC Ministers/Representatives from all ten ASEAN Member States and H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community, the 16th ASCC Council Meeting also exchanged views on socio-cultural issues and challenges, and the way forward to effectively implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASCC Blueprint.

Source: Association of SouthEast Asian Nation