The ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus has published its latest declaration outlining agreed principles of co-operation in the region.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton joined counterparts via a video conference on Wednesday (16 June) for the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), after which a new declaration was affirmed by attendees.
Underpinning the Bandar Seri Begawan declaration is a recognition of the importance of “mutual trust and confidence, enhanced dialogue and co-operation” in addressing “unprecedented challenges” in the region.
The declaration acknowledged the implications of current and emerging traditional and non-traditional threats, including the “transboundary nature” of cyber security, chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) threats, terrorism, and public health emergencies.
ADMM Plus members have also reaffirmed principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN), the ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations (Bali Principles).
Members stressed that the ASEAN-centred regional architecture should be “open, transparent, inclusive, and based on international law”.
The declaration has recognised ASEAN as playing a leading role in shaping regional economic and security architecture, by promoting close cooperation through “ASEAN-led mechanisms”.
- Promote the pursuit of practical defence cooperation and initiatives that contribute to the defence and military establishments’ capacity to be future-ready for regional challenges, while caring for the well-being of the ASEAN people and ensuring shared prosperity for the region;
- Strengthen the ADMM-Plus as the main multilateral mechanism for defence cooperation within the ASEAN-centred regional architecture to advance the cause of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region based on the principles of ASEAN unity, solidarity, centrality, and upholding of international law, including the UN Charter which is the indispensable foundation of a more peaceful and prosperous world;
- Promote peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region, including through the deepening of relations and effective practical cooperation, the adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government, respect for and the promotion of fundamental freedoms, and the promotion and protection of human rights, the right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, settlement of disputes by peaceful means; renunciation of the threat or use of force, and noting that the political stability in ASEAN Member States is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable, and prosperous ASEAN Community;
- Welcome the consistent positive contributions made by the Plus Countries to support ASEAN Member States’ capacity and preparedness to address current and emerging challenges including natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, public health emergencies and pandemics, and in mitigating their social and economic consequences;
- Strengthen defence organisations’ contributions to preventing, detecting, controlling and responding to the spread of communicable and infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and emphasise the importance of utilising the capacity of ADMM-Plus EWG on Military Medicine, the ASEAN Center of Military Medicine, and the Network of ASEAN CBR Defence Experts;
- Maintain efforts aimed at strengthening the ASEAN-centered regional architecture based on the fundamental principles outlined in the TAC, signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976;
- Reaffirm the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes, without coercion, in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea;
- Maintain the importance of putting in place practical confidence-building measures, for maritime security by exercising the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and implementing the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 to ensure a peaceful environment conducive to sustainable development and prosperity in the region;
- Welcome the expansion of the ASEAN Direct Communications Infrastructure in the ADMM Process to the Plus Countries which will strengthen strategic cooperation as well as provide a platform for engagement in dialogue and enhancing transparency, regional confidence, and security building measures, especially in the time of the pandemic;
- Encourage the conduct of joint ADMM-Plus exercises amongst our militaries to build trust and confidence and to enhance our capability in addressing common security challenges;
- Strengthen women’s meaningful participation in peace and security cooperation, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325;
- Sustain the strategic dialogue and practical cooperation on regional defence and security issues among ASEAN Member States and the Plus Countries, including through the implementation of the ADMM Three-Year Work Programme 2020-2022 and the ADMM-Plus EWGs Work Plans for 2021-2023;
- Strengthen defence cooperation to overcome security challenges through the seven ADMM-Plus EWGs while upholding the principles of ASEAN Centrality, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consensus-based decision making, flexible, voluntary, non-binding and resource-efficient contributions with assets remaining under national command and control;
- Congratulate the ADMM in commemoration of its 15th anniversary and commend its contributions to the ASEAN Political-Security Community as well as its adoption of greater, outward-looking external relations strategies that subsequently established the ADMM-Plus;
- Welcome the convening of the 9th ADMM-Plus in the Kingdom of Cambodia in 2022.
The declaration was formally adopted in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on 16 June, 2021.