Prime Minister Hun Sen has just returned from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where he attended the Fifth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) on 15 June 2019. Undoubtedly, under the theme of “Shared Vision for a Secure and More Prosperous CICA region,” this summit was a significant diplomatic event of the year.
According the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prime Minister Hun Sen, delivered his remarks “stressing on several important fields of common challenge to the Asian region, and share his insightful views on how Asia could collectively tackle security, economic and political issues through strengthening trust and relations among the CICA member states.”
CICA is a multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security, and stability in Asia. In fact, it is considered to be a pan-Asian confidence-building mechanism, which was established in 1992. Today, it consists of 27 member states, which collectively account for about 90 percent of the territory and population of Asia. There are 8 countries and 5 international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), have observer status. Cambodia became the member of CICA in 2011.
After a long period of maturing, its first meeting took place in 2002. Since then, CICA has experienced many transformations, which have enabled this forum to contribute to the promotion of confidence building and cooperation among members states.
Arguably, CICA has emerged as an integral part of the evolving regional security regime of Asia based on: (1) the principles of inclusiveness and representativeness; (2) the enhancement of peace and security through development and connectivity; (3) the five principles of peaceful-coexistence; and (4) the promotion of multilateralism through strategic partnerships but not alliances.
Obviously, these principles can be seen as an alternative approach to Western security regime, which is generally based on political liberalism and security alliances for four main reasons, as following:
Firstly, CICA represents a new regional security regime which emphasizes on the significance inclusiveness and representativeness in the promotion of regional cooperation and peace. In fact, CICA accommodates multiple sets of bilateral relations. CICA’s member states represented by major global powers like China, India, and Russia, regional powers and small states that are willing and able to build a security cooperation platform to meet the security needs of Asia. At this year summit, CICA leaders emphasized “the need for developing dialogue on a regional security architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive, evolutionary and based on universally recognized principles of international law.”
Secondly, CICA has promoted not only confidence-building measures towards promoting security and stability but also peace through development and connectivity. At the Forth CICA Summit in Shanghai in May 2014, CICA leaders declared that “… in the context of globalisation, security has become an all-encompassing concept with increasingly prominent transnational, comprehensive and inter-connected features.”
More importantly, the host of the Shanghai Summit, President Xi Jinping, proposed “the Asian New Security Concept” of “common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security”. He emphasised that, “sustainable security means that we need to focus on both development and security so that security would be durable.”
Thirdly, CICA member states have always stressed the importance of the five principles of peaceful co-existence in international relations, which include mutual respect for sovereignty and independence, non-interference in one another domestic affairs. The Declaration of the Fifth CICA Summit emphasizes that “… cooperation in the CICA region will based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence, mutual benefit and refraining from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any state…”
Forthly, CICA member states are committed to a new security regime based on partnership and reject military alliances. At the 2010 CICA summit, the leaders stated that “[CICA member states] stay committed to building a security environment in Asia based on confidence, mutual trust, good neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation among all states deeply rooted in the heart of the Asian people.” CICA member states are also strong supporters of multilateral institutions, including the UN. At this year summit, CICA leaders reaffirmed their “commitment to effective multilateralism with the UN at its centre as the universal multilateral organization entrusted with the purposes to maintain international peace and security…”
Clearly, the four key elements of the evolving regional security regime in Asia are compatible with the foreign policy principles of Cambodia. At the Fifth CICA Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen emphasized that “peace and development and win-win cooperation have always been the cornerstone of Cambodia’s policy as we fully uphold the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.”
He also stated that “Cambodia stands ready to work with all member states in pushing the CICA process to build security architecture that fits our Asian regional conditions along our ASEAN way of mutual respect, consensus-building and mutual understanding in order to protect global peace and stability as well as to promote sustainable development.”
Cheunboran Chanborey is Member of Board of Director of the Asian Vision Institute.