Cooperative security mechanism in Asia

Muhammad Munir

THE recent geopolitical processes show that no country can stay immune in the face of emerging security threats especially illegal activities of terrorist groups and the influence of negative economic processes. Today Asian Continent is facing multifarious traditional and non-traditional challenges such as interstate territorial disputes, arms build-up including nuclear capacity-building and delivery systems, illegal migration, expansion of international criminal networks such as drugs and human trafficking. In order to ensure regional security and stability, there is a need to find an effective mechanism for cooperation.
One such mechanism developed by Kazakhstan in 1992 is the establishment of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The platform is actively involved in the development of multilateral confidence-building measures aimed at strengthening peace, security and stability in Asia. Today, the CICA has 26 states and 12 observers. The summit of Heads of State and Government of its members is held every four years. It takes advisory decisions on multidimensional security issues to undertakes confidence building measures covering military, political economic, environmental, humanitarian, fight against new challenges and threats.
Regional organizations such as CICIA form an integral part of the UN Charter. Specifically, Chapter VIII of the UN Charter implicitly endorses the principle of subsidiary by identifying and encouraging ‘regional arrangements or agencies’ as appropriate initial actors in seeking to defuse tensions and resolve local disputes within the region before any reference to the Security Council. Indeed, all options must be exhausted before coercive action is to be considered under the UN Charter; it is thus implicit (and sensible) that more effective regional regimes are encouraged under the Charter. Moreover, for member States of such regional arrangements or agencies, Article 52(2) of the UN Charter requires them to ‘make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or such regional agencies before referring them to the Security Council’.
It is interesting to note that the Kazakhstan’s initiative – CICA after twenty-four has emerged as an efficiently-functioning forum in Asia. There is a positive experience of the Confidence, when in the course of meetings at the highest level at the same table could sit the representatives of the different parties to the conflict of Israel and Palestine, Pakistan and India. Undoubtedly, these perennial conflicts can only be resolved through negotiations. On the sidelines of the CICA summits the leaders of rival states may interact with each other to find some common grounds for cooperation. Fourth CICA Summit held in Shanghai in May 2014 has demonstrated that the member countries of organization considered CICA not only a platform for dialogue, but also a mechanism to launch new global initiatives and projects.
The summit was quite interesting in terms of its outcome. China emphasized the necessity of forming a new Asian security concept- universal integrated sustainable security with new approaches, free from the shackles of the “cold war” and the “bloc.” In its capacity as chairman of CICA, China has introduced several innovative ideas. For example, in the framework of the CICA the work of business and youth councils have started their work. One of the key events of the summit was Kazakhstan’s initiative of transforming CICA by giving it a new status with new name Organization of Security and Development in Asia (OSDA), which could become a kind of analogue of the OSCE in Asia. According to Astana, during the global crisis, the West could not sustain its development in isolation from the East. In the future, it is necessary to strengthen and increase the practical component of the CICA activities for effective implementation of confidence-building measures in all areas of cooperation. As declared by CICA, today the security has become an all-encompassing concept with increasingly prominent transnational, comprehensive and interconnected features. The countries in the region share common interests and security concerns. They should seek common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustained security based on the common understanding that has been reached so far.
The Asian countries cooperative framework in the form of CICA, shows a single disposition of building a cooperative security mechanism in Asia to carry forward the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance; respect each other’s sovereignty; seek common development and progress; and stay committed to building a security environment in the region based on confidence, mutual trust, good neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation among all States deeply rooted in the heart of the Asian people.
— The writer is Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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