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Posted on: March 03, 2020 | Back | Print

Role of CICA in contemporary geopolitical situation

It must be mentioned at the outset that CICA is a forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. While focus of CICA is on Asia, its activities and role are based on the recognition that there is a close link between peace, security and stability in Asia and the rest of the world.

In the fast changing globalised world of 21st century, Asia occupies a unique place. Asia has been showing remarkable economic growth over last few decades and many quarters are already calling 21st Century as the Asian Century. Asia is bringing new innovations to the world community, which was earlier an exclusive preserve of the west. With its rising military, economic and political clout, Asia is playing an increasingly important role in the world community. For these reasons as well as on account of changing demography, future lies with Asia.

At the same time, Asia continues to face numerous security challenges which threaten not only the economic gains but also the peace and stability of the continent with implications on the global peace and security. Asia has experienced some of the most disastrous conflicts of the post second world war era. It is an extremely diverse region having some of the largest and the smallest countries with significantly different levels of development and aspirations. There are also cultural, ethnic, religious and historical differences to overcome. Today, Asia is facing conflict situations in some parts; and multiple flash points with significant conflict potentials in other parts that have been in existence for historical and other reasons. Any of these flashpoints could spark conflagration that could undermine the peace and prosperity of the region.

In addition to the traditional military flashpoints, Asia also faces a number of non-traditional security challenges. While globalisation has brought unprecedented benefits in the form of rapid economic, technological and social changes, these changes have also spawned the much more sinister by-product of non-traditional security challenges. Some of the major non-traditional challenges faced by Asia today are terrorism, trans-national crime, environmental degradation, spread of infectious diseases and trafficking in human beings, illicit drugs and arms.

Non-traditional challenges faced by Asia have trans-national linkages aided by the ease of communications and transportation. Increasingly wired and connected world has enabled collaboration not only among the companies and communities but also among the terrorist and criminal groups. Emergence of new infectious diseases also has a spillover effect because of the ease of travel. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that both traditional and non-traditional security challenges cannot be addressed in isolation and require collaborative multilateral responses for their resolution.

CICA aims to address these challenges through a collaborative multilateral approach towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. It is the only Pan-Asian structure for dialogue and consultations on security issues and implementation of confidence building measures. Security dialogue and confidence building measures help in accurate understanding of one another’s perception of security issues; pave way for stable political and diplomatic relations; and encourage moves to identify shared security needs.

CICA is taking holistic view of the security environment. Ethno-religious, socio-economic and environmental factors have great impact on security and stability in the region. CICA is addressing these factors through implementation of confidence building measures in human, economic and environmental dimensions in addition to military-political dimension and new threats and challenges. CICA has been able to reconcile diverse interests and differences among to member states and find common approaches for implementation of confidence building measures.

The fact that membership of CICA has increased from 16 to 26 between 2002 and 2014, covering nearly ninety percent of the area and population of Asia, bears a testimony to the important role it is playing in the contemporary world. During the short period since its inception, CICA has made big strides in its endeavour to find ways and means to eliminate the causes of mistrust, tension and hostility and create conditions for sustainable peace in Asia and economic growth of Asian states and their peoples.

Aims and priorities of Chinese Chairmanship

People’s Republic of China assumed CICA Chairmanship at the Fourth Summit in Shanghai on 21 May 2014. Chinese Chairmanship is fully committed to the CICA process and aims to further enhance dialogue, trust and coordination for a New Asia of Peace, Stability and Cooperation. It will promote discussion on the important subject of security cooperation, explore policies for long-term peace and stability, and promote development and prosperity jointly with other member states for cooperative and sustainable security of individual countries and region as a whole. It will be endeavour of Chinese Chairmanship to build on the past achievements and strive for new progress in security cooperation and further promote the already existing vibrant cooperation in the economic field to create a win-win situation for all.

Chinese Chairmanship proposes to adopt a multi-pronged approach and enhance regional security governance in a coordinated way while taking into account the historical background and reality of Asia's security issues; make plans for addressing potential security threats; and avoid a fragmented and palliative approach that only treats the symptoms. Strengthening international and regional cooperation to step up fight against the three scourges of terrorism, separatism and extremism will be a priority area for the Chinese Chairmanship.

New Concept of Asian Security, its basic directions and priorities

In his address to the Fourth CICA Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a new Asian Security Concept. The new security concept is a very significant development taking into account the present international situation. It aims at building a new international political and economic order that is fair and equitable. Today, security has become a comprehensive, cross-border and cross-sector issue. It is no longer akin to building up military capabilities to deter other countries. Security of one country is intrinsically linked to security of other countries. The new security concept takes this reality into account and encompasses the four basic principles of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. The concept espouses that countries should recognise and respect each other’s security concerns; and cooperate in addressing both, the symptoms and root causes of common security challenges like terrorism. Since there is undeniable linkage between development and security, countries should adopt a coordinated approach towards economic development to ensure sustainable security. It is hoped that all CICA Member States will work together to make the new security concept a reality during the Chinese Chairmanship to achieve the ultimate aim of CICA to form in Asia a common and indivisible area of security, where all states peacefully co-exist, and their peoples live in conditions of peace, freedom and prosperity.

Implementation of CICA Confidence Building Measures: key directions

As mentioned earlier, CICA is implementing confidence building measures (CBMs) in five broad dimensions, namely, military-political dimension, economic dimension, environmental dimension, human dimension and fight against new threats and challenges. CBMs in military-political dimension aim to understand one-another’s security concerns, create trust, avoid misunderstanding and resolve ongoing and potential disputes. Member states are exchanging information on their top military personnel and accession to or ratification of multilateral instruments on arms control and disarmament and outer space. Member states are also organising visits of defence personnel and diplomats to military facilities in the initial stage. In next stages, it is proposed to extend these measures on gradual and voluntary basis to include exchange of information on components of armed forces, defence budgets, presence of foreign military contingents, planned military exercises, and inviting observers from member states to military exercises.

CBMs in economic dimension cover a large area of economic cooperation and include development of small and medium enterprises, development of secure and effective systems of transportation corridors, tourism, information technology and energy security. Meetings of experts and training programmes in these areas are being held and CICA Business Forums are being held on regular basis. It has been decided to establish a CICA Business Council to promote trade and economic relations among the member states.

CBMs in human dimension aim to promote human rights, cultural relations, people to people contacts, dialogue between different ethnic and religious groups, and contacts among the youth. Seminars and workshops are being held on regular basis in these areas. Youth camps for CICA member states are being held to promote contacts and interaction among youth. A book containing short stories, poems and folktales from member states has been published. To further promote contacts and cooperation among youth, A CICA Youth Council has been established.

In environmental dimension, focus is on combating desertification and water management. Meetings of experts in these areas have been held. Turkey has announced that it will establish an International Research and Training Centre on Combating Desertification in Asia for the benefit of CICA member states.

In fight against new threats and challenges, member states are implementing CBMs in the areas of illicit drugs, terrorism, trans-national crime, human trafficking, etc. Training programmes, seminars and workshops in these areas are being held for experts, law enforcement agencies and consular officers. Data bases of contact persons in the member states in the areas of illicit drugs, police related issues and border management have been established for better coordination. Member states are also considering a CICA Action Plan for implementation UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.