The International Social Security Association (ISSA) and ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will mark a significant milestone in the joint pursuit of inclusive, adequate, and sustainable social protection systems in the ASEAN region. The MoU signing ceremony took place on 20 November 2023 during the 40th ASSA Board Meeting and Seminar, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The MoU established a framework for cooperation between ISSA as the world’s leading international organization for social security institutions, government departments and agencies and ASSA, a forum of social security institutions from the ASEAN countries. This will be a vital partnership for the ASEAN member countries as the ASEAN region covers a combined population of more than 680 million people.
While extreme poverty in ASEAN is estimated to be below 10 percent, ISSA President Dr Mohammed Azman highlighted existing challenges in the region such as coverage gaps in the social protection system. An estimated 244 million people in the ASEAN region are in informal employment, facing limited labour rights and absence of labour protection. Furthermore, delivery and portability of social security protection for migrant workers have been a focus for institutions from both the host and home countries. Many migrant workers in the region do not receive equal and fair social protection compared to citizens of the receiving country.
Through this partnership, both organizations are committed to promoting knowledge sharing, as well as cultivate innovative approaches to solve these social security challenges. Representing 20 ISSA member and non-member institutions in 10 Southeast Asian countries, the MoU also serves to streamline resources and coordinate international social security activities in the ASEAN region.
The MoU was signed by ISSA President Dr. Mohammed Azman Bin Aziz Mohammed and ASSA Chair Keo Chanthavixay, with the presence of Jens Schremmer, Office of the ISSA Secretary General and Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan, incoming Chair of ASSA.