The Thai-Cambodian border dispute, China’s dispute with Asean states over claims in the South China Sea and tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and the widely discredited elections in Myanmar, Asean’s foreign ministers will meet in Jakarta next week.
They are seeking to enhance their ability to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts while joining forces in peacekeeping operations and building peace in post-conflict areas.
Building on Asean’s recent defense ministers’ meeting in Jakarta , foreign ministers are set to agree on unprecedented statements on closer security and military cooperation to avoid misunderstandings and suspicion.
“We emphasized the importance of institutionalizing expertise and capacities in areas of conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building in order to strengthen the vital role of ASEAN member states in supporting… the maintenance of regional peace and security,” a draft of the ministers’ joint communiqué to be released next Tuesday read.
At the Asean Summit in Jakarta in May, leaders agreed to form the Asean Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), as a starting point for a more powerful body to help resolve intraregional conflicts.
Coupled with the defense ministers’ plan to establish an Asean peacekeeping center network, which will pool the grouping’s military and civilian resources to tackle disasters and conflicts, Asean may be beginning to move toward a genuine security community.
“It is a priority for us to make sure Asia Pacific remains a peaceful, secure and stable region. These are the conditions that enable us to develop. We have enjoyed a peace dividend,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.
Despite enjoying peace for the last 40 years – which certainly justifies Asean’s existence – the escalating conflict between Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year emphasized the need to step up confidence building measures, conflict prevention efforts and conflict resolution, he said.
On the South China Sea issue, Asean ministers vowed to persuade China to agree on the establishment of a stronger code of conduct (COC) rather than a mere declaration of code of conduct (DOC), which remains stalled since 2002.
“We have commenced the discussion on a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea. We look forward to its finalization before the 19th ASEAN Summit [in November this year]” the draft of the joint communiqué read.
On the Korean Peninsula issue, the ASEAN ministers “reiterated that the ASEAN Regional Forum [ARF], of which six participants are all members of the Six Party Talks, could explore to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue and consultation among parties concerned.”
Top News from Southeast Asia
July 17 , 2011
These were the most significant stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of July 9- 15.