Chairman's Statement: The Tenth ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 18 June 2003Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
June 18, 2003
1. The Tenth ASEAN Regional Forum convened in Phnom Penh on 18 June 2003 under the chairmanship of H. E. Mr. HOR Namhong, Senior Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
2. The Ministers commemorated the ten years of the ARF as having great significance for the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific, observing that, despite the great diversity of its membership, the forum had attained a record of achievements that have contributed to the maintenance of peace, security and cooperation in the region. They cited in particular:
- The usefulness of the ARF as a venue for multilateral and bilateral dialogue and consultations and the establishment of effective principles for dialogue and cooperation, featuring decision-making by consensus, non-interference, incremental progress and moving at a pace comfortable to all;
- The willingness among ARF participants to discuss a wide range of security issues in a multilateral setting;
- The mutual confidence gradually built by cooperative activities;
- The cultivation of habits of dialogue and consultation on political and security issues;
- The transparency promoted by such ARF measures as the exchange of information relating to defense policy and the publication of defense white papers; and
- The networking developed among national-security, defense and military officials of ARF participants.
3. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that mutual confidence within the region had been significantly strengthened through the ARF’s confidence-building measures and that the ARF had initiated exploratory work on preventive diplomacy. The Ministers reaffirmed the key role of the ARF for security dialogue and cooperation with respect to the security situation in the Asia-Pacific. However, they stressed that the ARF must keep pace with the times by adapting itself to the evolving situation, develop a greater sense of common security and build a more effective regional security framework, thus contributing to lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. Toward this end, they placed importance on:
- Strengthening the implementation of the nine recommendations endorsed at the 9th ARF Ministerial Meeting on 31 July 2002;
- Continuing work on confidence-building measures as the foundation of the ARF process;
- Implementing the “Concept and Principles of Preventive Diplomacy”;
- Acting on ARF principles of peaceful settlement of differences and conflicts between states through dialogue and negotiations;
- Making the fight against international terrorism and transnational crime a priority of current ARF cooperation;
- Addressing non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament issues, including small arms and light weapons;
- Enhancing the role of the ARF Chair, including interaction with other regional and international organizations;
- Utilizing the services of the ARF experts and eminent persons (EEPs);
- Encouraging greater participation by defense and military officials; and
- Enhancing linkages between Track I and Track II ARF processes.
4. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Chairman for the initiatives that he had undertaken in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the paper “Enhanced Role of the ARF Chair,” which the ARF adopted in Ha Noi in July 2001. They noted the Chairman’s discussions with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union and his consultations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other ARF participants on the Korean issue. They agreed that the ARF should play a constructive role in seeking a peaceful resolution of the issue.
Discussion of Regional and International Issues
5. The Ministers exchanged views on the regional and international situation and emphasized the key role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. They reaffirmed that regional dialogue and cooperation are essential to regional and international peace and stability. The Ministers maintained their view that the ARF remains the principal consultative and cooperative forum for political and security matters in the Asia-Pacific. This view was confirmed by today’s meeting, which held extremely useful discussions on critical developments unfolding in the region.
6. Views were expressed on the situation on the Korean peninsula. The Ministers supported the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. They urged DPRK to resume its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to reverse its decision to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They called for a peaceful solution of the nuclear problem there for the sake of durable peace and security in the region. In this regard, the Ministers were of the view that the ARF has played a useful and constructive role and agreed to support further efforts by the ARF Chair to help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The Ministers welcomed the resumption of high-level inter-Korean talks held in Pyongyang on 28-29 April 2003 and recognized the importance of inter-Korean dialogues and exchange at various levels as a channel to pursue peaceful resolution of outstanding security concerns. They welcomed the talks held in Beijing on 23-24 April 2003 among the People’s Republic of China, the DPRK and the United States of America as a good start in the right direction. The Ministers were also of the view that outstanding security and humanitarian issues should be addressed through increased dialogues.
7. The Ministers reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen further the cooperation among their countries in the fight against international terrorism, which continued to menace the security of nations and peoples around the world, including those in the Asia-Pacific region. They deplored the terrorist bombing attacks in Bali, Riyadh and Casablanca. They reiterated their condemnation of terrorism and expressed their determination to take all necessary steps in order to raise public awareness and take effective action against terrorism. At the same time, they rejected any attempt to associate terrorism with any religion, race, nationality or ethnic group. They reaffirmed the significance of enhancing capability in the region to counter terrorism effectively, and the importance of cooperation and coordination by participants in building capacity for those who need assistance, within the framework established by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373.
8. The Ministers welcomed the Declaration on Terrorism issued by the 8th ASEAN Summit in November 2002, which called for intensified regional cooperative measures against terrorism and for support for them by the international community. They reviewed the implementation of their commitment to take specific and concrete measures to stop the financing of terrorism, as embodied in the ARF Statement on Measures against Terrorist Financing of 31 July 2002, and resolved to carry out those measures with ever-stronger determination. They welcomed the joint declarations that ASEAN had issued with the United States of America and the European Union on 1 August 2002 and 28 January 2003, respectively, pledging closer and more resolute cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
9. The Ministers noted the ongoing work of other international organizations on counter-terrorism and welcomed the continuing work of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee, the G8 Roma/Lyon Group, including the creation of the Counter-Terrorism Action Group, and the establishment of the APEC Counter-Terrorism Task Force as well as the cooperation Program on Fighting International terrorism approved in the context of ASEM. The Ministers also welcomed the Pacific Leaders’ commitment at the 2002 Pacific Islands Forum to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 and the Financial Action Task Force 8 Special Recommendations on terrorist financing and to put in place law-enforcement legislation. The Ministers noted that, with support from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, experts from the region are working on developing a legal framework for addressing terrorism and transnational crime in the Pacific.
10. The Ministers were gratified by the conduct and outcome of the Inter-sessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (ISM on CT-TC) in Karambunai, Sabah, Malaysia, on 21-22 March 2003. They expressed their appreciation for the work of Malaysia and the United States as co-chairmen of that meeting. The Ministers agreed that the ISM on CT-TC should continue its work and welcomed the offer of the Philippines and Russia to co-host the ISM on CT-TC in the next inter-sessional year. The Ministers adopted the ARF Statement on Cooperative Counter-Terrorist Actions on Border Security, as proposed by the ISM. The statement expressed the ARF participants’ determination to take concrete, cooperative measures to strengthen security at their borders against terrorist threats.
11. The Ministers took note of the results of the International Conference on Anti-Terrorism and Tourism Recovery in Manila in November 2002 and the Regional Conference on Combating Money-Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Bali in December 2002. The Ministers expressed their commitment to facilitate the reinvigoration of tourism in the Asia-Pacific by enhancing cooperation to maintain regional peace and security. They reaffirmed the need to fully combat money-laundering and terrorist financing.
12. The Ministers noted the concerns expressed about the threat posed to commercial and general aviation by man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) in terrorist hands and the importance of curbing the proliferation of these weapons. The Ministers took note of the MANPADS initiative agreed upon at the G8 Summit in Evian, France, on 2 June 2003.
13. The Ministers also welcomed of the establishment of the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
14. Deeply concerned about the rising incidence of piracy at sea in the Asia-Pacific region, the Ministers adopted an ARF Statement on Cooperation Against Piracy and Other Threats to Maritime Security, committing their countries to undertake concrete cooperative measures for combating piracy and other maritime crimes. The Ministers recognized the significant work being undertaken by ARF participants in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and pledged their continuing support for this work.
15. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the growing cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, including cooperation within ASEAN, in dealing with transnational crime, money-laundering, cyber-crime, drug- and arms-trafficking and trafficking in persons, as well as piracy at sea. They welcomed the issuance in Phnom Penh last November of the Joint Declaration of ASEAN and China on Cooperation in the Field of Non-Traditional Security Issues.
16. The Ministers welcomed the Second Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime held in Bali in April 2003 and encouraged participants to continue their cooperative efforts, primarily by implementing the action plans developed by the two ad hoc expert groups established by the First Conference in February 2002.
17. The Ministers welcomed the results of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime and those officials’ meetings with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (SOMTC+3), with the European Union and with the United States on 9-13 June 2003 in Ha Noi. They were encouraged by the fruitful discussions on the implementation of the Declaration and Statements with China, the EU and the US. The Ministers expressed their determination to implement the joint Declarations and Statements.
18. The Ministers welcomed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which ASEAN and China signed in Phnom Penh on 4 November 2002. They expressed their confidence that efforts made by ASEAN and China in compliance with the Declaration’s provisions and commitments would contribute valuably to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific and would help create the conditions for the peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea.
19. The Ministers congratulated the Government of Timor-Leste on its progress since independence. In particular, the Ministers noted the positive relationship developing between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. They noted that a number of ARF participants continued to make major contributions to the post-independence, multilateral effort in Timor-Leste. The Ministers stressed that, as part of the Asia-Pacific, Timor-Leste’s future was reliant on the development of economic, political and security ties with its neighbors.
20. Noting the importance of strengthening democracy as a fundamental element of regional security, the Ministers were briefed about the current situation in Myanmar. They urged Myanmar to resume its efforts of national reconciliation and dialogue among all parties concerned leading to a peaceful transition to democracy. They welcomed the assurances given by Myanmar that the measures taken were temporary and looked forward to the early lifting of restrictions placed on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD members. They reaffirmed their support for the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative Tan Sri Razali Ismail to assist in this regard.
21. The Ministers re-affirmed their support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Indonesia. They recognized the efforts of the Indonesian Government to restore peace and order in Aceh. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Philippines and Thailand for their contribution in providing monitoring teams as requested by Indonesia in the recent efforts to resolve the Aceh problem through dialogue. They also pledged their support to deny the separatist movement access to means of violence through, among all, preventing arms smuggling into the Aceh province. The Ministers hoped that peaceful solution can be found based on special autonomy as the final solution for Aceh.
22. The Ministers welcomed the recent positive developments in the relations between India and Pakistan, particularly the peaceful initiatives by the Indian Prime Minister. They expressed the hope that the two sides would continue their dialogue and cooperation and resolve their differences through peaceful means in the interests of the two peoples and for the sake of peace and stability in South Asia and the world.
23. The Ministers welcomed the peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which were hosted by Thailand and outcome of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka, which was held on 9-10 June 2003. They encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to further their efforts to achieve a durable peace, which safeguards the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and is satisfactory to all its communities. The significant pledges in Tokyo are evidence of a strong commitment by the international community to support the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
24. The Ministers welcomed the continue progress in the peace process in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, now leading towards the preparations for the election of an autonomous government
25. The Ministers noted the deteriorating security and economic conditions in the Solomon Islands and the efforts of partner-countries to provide assistance to the Solomon Islands Government.
26. The Ministers recognized the growing danger posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and reaffirmed their commitment to make further joint efforts to tackle the problem. Ministers reaffirmed that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remained the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. They emphasized the importance of promoting the universalization of non-proliferation and disarmament agreements, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocols, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and expressed concern about actions which damage global non-proliferation efforts and undermine mutual trust and confidence. Ministers called for the maintenance of the existing moratorium on nuclear testing. Ministers welcomed the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which came into effect in November 2002, as an important milestone in the effort to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and encouraged increased adherence by ARF countries.
27. In the area of small arms and light weapons, the Ministers underlined the importance of contributing to a successful first UN Biennial Meeting in July 2003 and encouraged all ARF participants to report to the United Nations on the implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. In reaffirming their commitment to addressing the multiplicity of concerns generated by and contributing to the proliferation and availability of small arms and light weapons, the Ministers commended participants on their efforts to follow up on the recommendations made at the regional seminar in Manila in July 2002.
28. The ARF defense and military officials attending the Tenth ARF met among themselves on 17 June 2003. The Ministers concluded that the conduct and outcome of the defense and military officials’ meeting reaffirmed the importance of these officials’ active participation in the ARF process. This was in line with the endorsed recommendation of the 9th ARF to widen their engagement and involvement, building upon Singapore’s Concept Paper on Defense Dialogue within the ARF.
29. The Ministers took note of the need of developing a habit of dialogue among the Northeast Asian countries on security issues at Track I level starting with a free exchange of views.
30. The Ministers were pleased with the success of the Track I and Track II activities that had taken place during the current inter-sessional year (July 2002 to June 2003). They received with appreciation the summary report on the meetings of the Inter-sessional Group on Confidence-Building Measures, which New Zealand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic co-chaired in Wellington on 20-22 November 2002 and in Vientiane on 26-28 March 2003. The Ministers commended the work of the ISG on CBMs in advancing the ARF process, noted the summary report of the co-chairmen, and endorsed its recommendations.
31. The Ministers took note of the following activities that had taken place under the auspices of the ISG on CBMs:
- ARF Workshop on Defense/Military Officials’ Cooperation, Seoul, 28-30 August 2002;a
- 6th ARF Workshop of Heads of National Defense Colleges/Institutions, Moscow, 16-20 September 2002;
- ARF Workshop on Military Logistics Outsourcing Support, Beijing, 25-27 September 2002;
- ARF Workshop on Counter-Terrorism, Tokyo, 1-2 October 2002;
- ARF Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Seminar, Singapore, 4-6 December 2002;
- ARF Workshop on Maritime Security Challenges, Mumbai, India, 27 February - 1 March 2003; and
- ARF CBM Workshop on Managing Consequences of a Major Terrorist Attack, Darwin, Australia, 3-5 June 2003.
32. The Ministers agreed that the ISG on CBMs should continue its work and welcomed the offer of Myanmar and China to co-chair the Inter-sessional Group on Confidence-Building Measures in the next inter-sessional year. They noted that the next meetings of the ISG on CBMs would take place in Beijing on 20-22 November 2003 and in Yangon in April 2004.
33. The Ministers welcomed the offer of Cambodia and the European Union to co-chair the Inter-sessional Support Group on Confidence-Building Measures (ISG on CBMs) in the next inter-sessional year 2004-2005.
34. The Ministers took note with appreciation the offer by Mongolia to host an ARF workshop in Ulaanbaatar in 2004-2005 inter-sessional year to discuss the changing security perceptions of the ARF countries.
35. The Ministers approved the work program for the next inter-sessional year (July 2003 to June 2004).
Linkages Between Track I and Track II
36. The Ministers stressed the importance of strong linkages between Track I (official) and Track II (non-governmental) activities. In this regard, they took note of the ongoing discussions on this issue based on Canada’s concept paper “Strengthening Linkages between Track I and Track II in the ARF Context.” The Ministers noted the conclusions of the Track II Workshop on Counter-Terrorism organized by the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies of Singapore and the Council on Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific – Canada (CSCAP Canada) in Vientiane on 25 March 2003. They agreed that efforts should continue to enhance Track I and Track II interaction, as recommended in the 2002 Brunei Darussalam Stocktaking Paper endorsed by the Ministers.
The ARF Process and Its Future Direction
37. The Ministers reviewed the nine recommendations endorsed by the 9th ARF Ministerial Meeting in Brunei Darussalam on 31 July 2002 and expressed satisfaction with the progress made so far, especially in the areas of counter-terrorist cooperation and the enhancement of the role of the ARF Chair. They were of the view that the ARF’s work in these areas could contribute to the development of the ARF towards preventive diplomacy and, therefore, should be continued and strengthened. They called for the continued cooperation and support of ARF participants and the ASEAN Secretariat’s assistance for the ARF Chair in carrying out the mandates outlined in the paper on the “Enhanced Role of the ARF Chair.”
38. The Ministers agreed to support the ARF Chair to have Friends of the chair to assist the Chair in dealing with international situations, which affect the peace and security of the region.
39. The Ministers were satisfied with the level of confidence and trust that had been developed under ARF auspices and with the activities in the overlapping areas between CBMs and preventive diplomacy that ARF had begun to undertake. They resolved to further strengthen ARF confidence-building measures, which they considered as vital for the maintenance of regional peace and stability. While emphasizing the need for further consolidating CBMs, the Ministers underlined the significance of enhancing the role of the ARF Chair and advancing the ARF process. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the offer by Japan to host an ARF workshop on preventive diplomacy in February 2004.
40. The Ministers considered that the ARF’s work on preventive diplomacy was being advanced through, among other measures, the actions that it had taken to address the situation on the Korean peninsula and to enhance confidence and cooperation in addressing common security threats, including international terrorism, transnational crime, piracy and other maritime crimes, and the support given to the ARF Chairman in carrying out the enhanced role of the Chair.
41. The Ministers welcomed the issuance of another volume of the Annual Security Outlook (ASO). The publication, they observed, was an important contribution to transparency, and therefore to confidence-building, in regional security affairs.
42. The Ministers appreciated the publication of an updated Register of Experts/Eminent Persons and took note of the efforts to finalize the Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF EEP by the ISG on CBMs and the ARF Senior Officials’ Meeting. They urged further discussion on this issue and looked forward to the activation of the experts and eminent persons in helping to advance the work of the ARF. They commended the work of the ISG on CBMs and the ARF Senior Officials’ Meeting in considering Guidelines for the Operation of the ARF EEP, and encouraged further consultations to finalize the Guidelines.
43. The Ministers noted that applications to participate in the ARF had been received from the Bangladesh, Pakistan and Timor-Leste. They also noted that ASEAN countries agreed to lift the moratorium and to consider the application of new participants of ARF on a case-by-case basis. They received the communication that ASEAN Foreign Ministers had reached a consensus to accept a new participant in the ARF. They agreed to keep these two inter-linked issues for further consideration.
44. The Ministers welcomed the proposal by China on convening an “ARF Security Policy Conference” in which high military officials as well as government officers will be invited to take part. They looked forward to the concept paper to be circulated to the ARF participants in due course.
45. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the general progress of the ARF process and with the increasing usefulness of the forum for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
46. In advancing the development of the ARF process, the Ministers acknowledged ASEAN’s continued leading role in the ARF and the need proceed at a pace comfortable to all.