Formation of CICA

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Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, better known by its abbreviated name of CICA, is a multilateral forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia....

Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, better known by its abbreviated name of CICA, is a multilateral forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. It is a forum based on the recognition that there is a close link between peace, security and stability in Asia and the rest of the world. The Member States, while affirming their commitment to the UN Charter, believe that peace and security in Asia can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation.

The idea of convening CICA was proposed by H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, on 5 October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This was his first appearance on the world stage as President of new independent Kazakhstan. Expounding his vision of CICA, President Nazarbayev said (and I quote) “The world has now come close to the threshold beyond which the visible disturbing challenges of the future compel us to adopt a new quality of coordination, a new way to organize our joint efforts.“

At that time Asia did not have any structure covering the entire continent for addressing the issues of peace, security and stability. Before the launch of the CICA process, the idea of creating a security structure in Asia had been floated several times but did not find adequate support because of mutual suspicions prevailing on account of the cold war and various other factors. With the end of cold war and fast changing geo-political and geo-economical scenarios, CICA received support from a number of Asian states that were playing significant role in defining political climate in the continent.

One of the reasons for this support was the fact that CICA aimed to strengthen mutual understanding and create harmoniously designed security system on the Asian continent. CICA offered an opportunity to all Asian states not only for better understanding of each other’s security concerns and to cooperate on monitoring and managing conflict issues, but also to help resolve some other problems by interaction in variety of areas.

States supporting the CICA process were acutely aware of the extremely difficult task of creating such a structure because Asia is the most diverse continent in all its manifestations – be it political, economic, religious, ethnic or cultural. Besides tensions were still running high in certain regions of Asia on account of long histories of conflicts and mistrust. There were also conceptual issues at the beginning of the CICA process. The administrative and conceptual principles of other regional security structures like OSCE could not be applied in a straight forward manner to the CICA process.



It was, therefore, necessary to have step by step and multi-level consultations to take the CICA process forward. Kazakhstan and other supporting states painstakingly took incremental steps starting with meetings at the level of representatives of the foreign ministries of the interested states. With every meeting the CICA process moved a step forward culminating in the First CICA Ministerial Meeting, at the level of Foreign Ministers, in Almaty on 14 September 1999. The first ministerial meeting adopted the Declaration on the Principles Guiding Relations among the CICA Member States, which became the stepping stone towards future evolution of the CICA process.

The First CICA Summit held in Almaty on 4 June 2002 marked the formal launch of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. The summit was attended by the Heads of States and Government or the Special envoys from sixteen countries. Almaty Act, the charter of CICA was adopted at the first Summit.

Opportunities and challenges of Asia

In the fast changing world of 21st century, Asia occupies a unique place. Asia has been showing remarkable economic growth over last few years and some 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. During the recent economic crisis, Asia not only emerged relatively unscathed but was also a stabilizing factor. 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. Centre of gravity of the world economy is slowly, but surely, moving towards 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. 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. As we approach the end of the first decade of the century, Asia continues to face multiple flash points with significant conflict potentials 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, now commonly known as New Threats and 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.

Globalisation has also been blamed for increasing economic and social inequalities and consequent tensions in certain parts of Asia. In spite of decades of positive macroeconomic development, nearly 900 million people in Asia continue to live on income under $ 1 a day. While poverty itself cannot be identified as a security challenge, it has certainly contributed to the rise of some of the new threats and challenges.

Most of the non-traditional challenges 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. New challenges like terrorism, international crime, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings are prospering on account of trans-national linkages. Emergence of new infectious diseases also has a spillover effect as demonstrated by spread of bird flu. 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.

Cooperative approach

CICA aims to address these concerns through cooperative and collaborative multilateral approach. CICA is seeking mutually acceptable measures for resolving problems and conflicts in the region through dialogue. Member States are exploring ways to keep peace and create greater security and stability through economic integration; cooperation in various spheres; and most notably through implementation of Confidence Building Measures. It is the endeavour of the Member States to create a common and indivisible area of security in Asia, where all states co-exist peacefully and their peoples live in conditions of peace, freedom and prosperity.

Right in the initial stages of negotiations for convening CICA, there was an understanding that existing discords in the region could not be an obstacle to finding common approaches to the problems concerning security and cooperation among the states. It is due to this cooperative approach that CICA is in a position to reconcile the diverse concerns is reflected in its ability to adopt a comprehensive set of documents and declarations and its ability to take tangible steps for implementation of confidence building measures. This bears testimony to the commitment of the Member States to the CICA process.

CICA’s experience is reflective of how Asian states perceive the issues that are relevant for their security. At the initial stage Member States benefited from lessons of other multilateral organizations and fora, including OSCE as well. However, it was obvious that CICA Member States needed to develop a new model that would be suitable for Asia taking into account its realities.

CICA today is one of the youngest, most diverse and promising groupings with twenty Member States accounting for nearly ninety percent of the area and population of Asia. Its reach extends from Turkey in the west to Republic of Korea in the east encompassing countries in Eurasia, Middle East, South, South East and East Asia. This is perhaps the only platform outside of United Nations where countries that do not have diplomatic relations, come together for exchange views and arrive at understandings on issues of common interest. There can not be a better example of cooperative approach than this.

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Confidence Building Measures

As I have just mentioned, CICA is exploring ways to create greater security and stability, inter alia, through implementation of Confidence Building Measures. The process of implementation of confidence building measures began with adoption of Catalogue of CICA CBMs at the Second Ministerial Meeting. It was for the first time in the history of the Asian continent that there was such a comprehensive document envisaging multilateral cooperation among states on wide range of issues relating to stability and security.

It may be mentioned that the CICA confidence building measures go beyond the traditional concepts of reducing tension and fear of war. The leaders of the CICA member states recognized that in the increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent world of 21st century, non-traditional security challenges were posing even greater threat than the traditional politico-military challenges. The CICA Catalogue, therefore, laid down five broad dimensions for realization of the confidence building measures: (I) military-political; (II.) fight against new challenges and threats; (III) economic; (IV) environmental; and (V) humanitarian.

Member States agreed that in view of the diverse profile of CICA and realities typical to the Asian continent, it would be best to take a step-by-step approach and start with the realization of confidence building measures in non-traditional security challenges which would create sufficient goodwill among the member states and would act as stepping stone for realization of confidence building measures in military-political dimensions.


Today, twelve Member States are coordinating confidence building measures in wide range of issues including interaction in cultural, religious and educational affairs, tourism, development of small and medium enterprises, information technology, energy security, development of secure transport corridors, environment, disaster management, drug trafficking and meeting new threats and challenges.

CICA has recently initiated deliberations on military-political issues which are vital for creating a common and indivisible area of security in Asia. Confidence building measures on military-political issues will help in accurate understanding of one another’s security concerns; hopefully, pave the way for stable political and diplomatic relations; and, most importantly, encourage moves to identify shared security needs.

Chairmanship

After coordinating the initial process of convening CICA, Republic of Kazakhstan assumed Chairmanship of CICA at the First CICA Summit in June 2002. During the last eight years, Kazakhstan successfully steered the CICA process through its formative years with adoption of basic documents and initiation of implementation of confidence building measures. In June this year, Republic of Turkey will assume the Chairmanship of CICA. Turkey has been one of the most active members of CICA and made valuable contributions to the CICA process in its formative years. Turkey is also coordinating one of the most important dimensions of confidence building measures, namely, New Threats and Challenges. We are confident that Turkish Chairmanship will bring new dynamism to the CICA process with speedy implementation of confidence building measures in all the dimensions including military-political dimension. Turkey has necessary experience and expertise in multilateral diplomacy to do so.

Way forward

It must be remembered that while proposal to convene CICA was made seventeen years ago, CICA was formally launched as a functioning forum only in June 2002 and its permanent body, the CICA Secretariat, was formed in June 2006. During this short period CICA has made big strides in its endeavour to find ways and means to eliminate the causes of mistrust, fear, tension, and hostility and create conditions for sustainable economic growth of Asian states and their peoples.

CICA is still in its initial stage of practical cooperation. It took some time to agree on the main parameters of cooperation. However, Member States now have a set of shared principles that is acceptable to them. Basic documents provide necessary structure and direction to the relationship among Member States. Interaction within the framework of CICA now gives a better understanding of their respective positions along with CICA CBMs that is beneficial for increasing trust and confidence among Member States.

As the current Chairman of the Conference, President Nursultan Nazarbayev stated (and I quote) “CICA is a young forum, often moving on unbeaten paths and therefore not possessing ready recipes for all cases and situations. The optimal solutions are developed through dialogue.“ Therefore, the credentials of the CICA are quite clear, which is that it represents the creation of a unique structure of regional security. With the collective will and understanding of the Member States, it will be possible to realize the CICA objectives. We are confident that in due course, CICA will emerge as one of the most important fora in the world community.

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