CICA: Looking Ahead
Asia is different from other regions of the world because of existence of a huge potential for development and a multitude of unresolved conflicts and possibility of being their eruption center.
Along with the traditional challenges, regional stability and security threats posed by so-called "new challenges and threats ", which are interconnected, there is an inextricable link between security and development. In this context, in our opinion, necessity of coordinating efforts was one of the factors for support by the Asian States of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), proposed by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1992.
Until 2007, Member States of the Conference did considerable hard work to identify its basic goals and objectives, and development of a strong legal base. At the First Ministerial Meeting of Foreign Affairs in 1999, the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations between the CICA Member States was adopted. In 2002 the Almaty Act was adopted at the First Summit of Heads of State and Government, which is the charter of the Forum. The Catalogue of CICA CBMs was adopted at the Second Ministerial Meeting in 2004.
These founding documents became the basis for adopting a comprehensive approach to current problems such as conflict resolution, combating international terrorism, disarmament and arms control; implementation of confidence-building measures; illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. In the economic and human spheres, measures aimed at development of trade and welfare of the peoples of Asia are being implemented.
The CICA evolved into a security structure of Asia as a new model for several reasons. Firstly, the CICA is the only security forum, which brings together most countries of the continent. The twenty Member States account for ninety percent of the territory and population of Asia. Secondly, it was created for dialogue, consultation and exchange of views, as well as relevant decisions taken by consensus. Practical experience has shown that multilateral agreements reached on the basis of goodwill and consensus are more acceptable for majority of the participants than others. We should take into account the important role of the preventive diplomacy. Asian countries have also come to understand the necessity of collective response to the existing challenges and threats.
The membership profile of the CICA is unique. For instance, countries with no diplomatic relations with each other participate in discussions and find understanding on actual issues of common interest to all members of the Forum.
Since last year, the CICA began an important step - implementation of Confidence Building Measures. Notably, in February this year in New Delhi (India), Member States agreed that the work would be undertaken on priority areas for all countries. CICA adopted the working plan for 2009 for implementation confidence-building measures in human dimension, as well as in the area of countering the new threats and challenges. Now CICA is developing documents that will define concrete joint actions in areas such as energy security, tourism, information technology, small and medium enterprise, development of secure transport corridors, etc.
Kazakhstan was the first country that expressed a desire to become coordinator for cooperation in human dimension. The role of co-coordinator is actively performed by Kyrgyzstan. In March 2009 Kyrgyzstan organized a seminar on interfaith harmony. A Forum of ethno-cultural associations was held in Astana on the 1st of May, in which representatives of CICA Member States participated. Communication between people of different nationalities and religions living in the CICA region promotes friendship and prosperity of the peoples of Asia.
Presently, twelve countries are coordinating implementation of confidence-building measures in various fields.
In current year, despite the financial and economic difficulties, a number of meetings are being held in accordance with the Calendar of events for 2009. These meetings are aimed at implementation of provisions of the basic documents.
Simultaneously, these measures will certainly ensure the further expansion of the activities of the Forum. In June 2009, a specialized Experts Meeting of the CICA will be held in Moscow. During this meeting, not only a draft of the action plan in the area of small and medium enterprise sector will be finalized, but also a presentation will be made on modern electronic systems for information exchange. It is important to know that in this event representatives of government departments of CICA Member States as well as members of the business community are expected to participate.
In September, the Republic of Korea will host two meetings on the development of information technology and energy security. In October, China will host regular meetings of the Special Working Group and Senior Officials Committee of the CICA. In the second half of the year, Turkey will organize two special events in the area of countering new challenges and threats. Several meetings will be held in Iran, Israel, Thailand and Kazakhstan.
During this year, the CICA will begin consideration of the military-political issues which are vital for creating a common and indivisible security space in Asia. Confidence building measures in military-political sphere will contribute to understanding concerns of each CICA Member State; pave the way for the establishment and stabilization of political and diplomatic relations; and most importantly, help to identify common problems in the area of security.
At the same time, the CICA is planning to publish “Annual Outlook on Economic, Social and Security Issues in the CICA Region”. This publication will allow the experts of Member States to carry out analysis of the problems faced by the CICA region, and propose a common vision for their possible resolution.
It is about a year before the Third CICA Summit. All these activities are being held in preparation for this important event. Governmental agencies of Member States have set out to hold practical work in priority areas and to report to the heads of state and government about the progress achieved.
Kazakhstan successfully performed the role of the Chairman during the previous years. Diligent work of Astana, carried out before starting the forum, and for all years of the presidency should be registered.
In 2010, there will be the first rotation of the Chairman of the CICA. A few days ago Turkey's candidacy to this position was accepted by the Member States. Experience shows that the new Chairman, as a rule, brings a new impetus and dynamism to the work. In the present case, the Turkish side has all the necessary resources, including personnel, and relevant experience.
Within a short time the CICA has become a real factor in international relations. However, forum also faces new challenges in the present environment. Of course some of the challenges, such as organizational issues, depend on the Chairman. However, responsibility for the content of the work and the future of the Forum is shared by all its members, because in the CICA decisions are taken by consensus. The CICA will bring maximum benefit only with the active involvement and continuous efforts by all the States.
We are confident that the Third CICA Summit will be an important milestone in realizing the enormous potential of the CICA and will make a practical contribution to peace and security in Asia.