MANILA, 24 OCTOBER 2017
- The Fourth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (4th ADMM-Plus) was held on 24 October 2017 in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines. The Meeting was chaired by Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Secretary of National Defence, Philippines.
- The Meeting was attended by the ten ASEAN Member States and eight ASEAN Dialogue Partners, namely: Australia, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. The Secretary-General of ASEAN also attended the Meeting.
Report on Recent Developments in ASEAN by ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General
- The Meeting was first presented with the recent developments in ASEAN by the Secretary General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh. The Meeting was provided with updates on the progress of cooperation under ASEAN across different ASEAN Community pillars, namely ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). The meeting commended the initiatives under these pillars which reaffirmed the growing importance of the region and the need to deepen cooperation for the mutual benefit of ASEAN and its partners.
- The Meeting noted the various activities undertaken under the ADMM and ADMM-Plus platforms such as the ASEAN Peacekeeping Centers Network, Logistics Support Frameworks, ASEAN Direct Communication Infrastructure (ADI), ASEAN Defence Industry Collaboration, ASEAN Militaries Ready Group (AMRG) on HA/DR and ASEAN Center for Military Medicine and the ADMM-Plus Experts Working Groups (EWGs). These initiatives are not only opportunities for cooperation and collaboration but are also mechanisms to address existing and emerging security challenges in the region.
Briefing on the Progress of ADMM-Plus by ADSOM-Plus Chairman
- The Meeting was briefed on the progress of the ADMM-Plus by Undersecretary Ricardo A. David, Jr., ADSOM-Plus Chairman and Philippines’ Undersecretary for Defence Policy, Department of National Defence. The work plans for 2017-2020 of the seven (7) EWGs on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Maritime Security (MS), Military Medicine (MM), Counter-terrorism (CT), Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA), peacekeeping operations (PKO) and cybersecurity (CS) were presented with updates on the work of said working groups for the past three years except for the EWG on CS which was recently established last 25 May 2016 during 10th ADMM in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
- The Meeting also noted the various activities carried out and planned in 2017 for each EWG which include seminars, workshops, exercises, and conferences. The Meeting commended the developments and initiatives under the EWGs and also encouraged more activities to be conducted in the future. The ADMM expressed its appreciation to the Plus Partners for their cooperation and contributions to the EWGs.
Exchange of Views on Regional and International Security and Defence Issues
- Members of the Meeting exchanged views on regional and international security and defence issues. Some of the main focus during the exchange of views were on terrorism and violent extremism, maritime security, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, cyber security, and HADR.
- The Meeting agreed that the emergence of extremist and terrorist groups is not only a problem of few countries but the whole region. The Meeting also expressed strong commitment to contribute in eradicating extremist groups and in the de-radicalization efforts to prevent proliferation of such groups.
- The Meeting manifested support for the Philippines’ fight against terrorism in Mindanao and some countries expressed willingness to provide assistance when necessary and if warranted. The Philippines expressed appreciation for the ADMM-Plus for the support.
- The meeting was informed of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Joint Statement on Countering Violent Extremism, Radicalization and Terrorism issued during a Special Meeting held on October 23, 2017 where the ministers agreed to explore creative approaches to combat such challenges, encourage stronger intelligence sharing on movement of terrorists and terrorist financing as well as develop and enhance collaboration with civil society and other institutions to promote moderation and tolerance as an integral component of a comprehensive approach in combatting terrorism and violent extremism.
- The Meeting noted the joint efforts of the ADMM-Plus countries in promoting practical cooperation and collaboration on maritime security. The Meeting also noted the importance of the effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), in order to build mutual trust and confidence and maintain peace, security and stability in the region. The Meeting welcomed the Framework for the COC as an indication that the region has become closer to finally concluding the COC.
- The Meeting also expressed commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states and ensuring safety and freedom of navigation and overflight were also highlighted.
- The Meeting likewise expressed concerns on the escalation of tension in the Korean Peninsula and called for peaceful conflict resolution through diplomatic means. Some countries condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its multiple ballistic missile launches which violates UN Security Council Resolutions. The Meeting also joined the region and the rest of the world in calling for DPRK’s abandonment of nuclear weapons program and urged the DPRK to comply with its obligation under the UN Security Council Resolutions. Reaffirmed in the meeting is the common goal of achieving a complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as the resumption of dialogue to achieve this.
- Also discussed during the meeting is the situation in Myanmar’s State of Rakhine and the implications to regional stability of the migration of people thereat to neighboring countries to include Southeast Asian states.
- The Meeting also acknowledged that cooperation on HADR should be sustained and intensified given the more devastating disasters brought by climate change. The Meeting also took note that cyber security has become a concern of the region as cyber-attacks and cyber threats transcend boundaries and could damage both critical and non-critical infrastructures.
- The Meeting agreed that cooperation within ASEAN and with its dialogue partners are necessary in order to address these issues, especially through the ADMM-Plus framework.
- The Meeting also agreed that there is a need to intensify efforts at realizing an ASEAN Community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible in order to take advantage of current and future opportunities and to equip the region with the necessary capabilities to respond effectively to regional and global issues.
- The meeting reaffirmed ADMM’s commitment to enhance practical cooperation and reiterated that participation of ASEAN defence forces in collective ASEAN initiatives is flexible, voluntary, and non-binding, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, with assets remaining under national command and control.
- Due to the growing complexity of regional and international security challenges, the Meeting recognized that ASEAN must continue to engage its external partners through various ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the ADMM-Plus and the ASEAN Regional forum (ARF) while maintaining ASEAN centrality. The Meeting also took note of the need to streamline meetings and initiatives under the ASEAN to optimize use of resources and avoid duplication of efforts.
Updates on ADMM’s Decisions on New Initiatives
- The Chairman provided updates on the new initiatives and cooperation activities approved by the 11th ADMM on 23 October 2017, particularly the initiatives that would involve the Plus countries. The said initiatives include the annualisation of the ADMM-Plus, the guidelines regarding the conduct of informal meetings with Plus countries, streamlining of EWGs’ activities and the participation as observers of Non-Plus countries in EWGs’ workshops, seminars and exercises. These initiatives aim to enhance and rationalize engagement with Plus Partners and involve non-Plus countries in promoting regional cooperation.
- The Meeting took note of the following Philippines’ initiatives for the 11th ADMM, which have been adopted during the said meeting:
- Development of the ADMM Three Year Work Program (2017-2019);
- Taking Stock and Assessment of ADMM and ADMM-Plus Initiatives with proposals on how to promote synergy and avoid duplication of efforts;
- Streamlining ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Groups;
- Principles for ADMM-Wide Education and Training Exchanges;
- Guidelines for Maritime Interaction;
- Guidelines Regarding the Conduct of ADMM’s Informal Engagements or Meetings with Plus Countries;
- 2nd Additional Protocol to the Concept Papers on the Establishment of ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM-Plus providing for participation of observers in ADMM-Plus EWG activities; and
- Enhancing Linkages between the ADMM and the Network of ASEAN Defense and Security Institutions (NADI).
- After the 4th ADMM-Plus meeting, Brunei Darussalam, together with the Chair, launched the ASEAN Direct Communication Infrastructure (ADI), which will serve as the direct hotline for communication among the ASEAN Defense Ministers.
Hand Over Ceremony of ADMM Chairmanship to Singapore
- The Hand-over Ceremony of ADMM Chairmanship from the Philippines to Singapore took place after the 4th ADMM-Plus meeting. In his Hand Over remarks, the Philippines’ Secretary of National Defence discussed the initiatives of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus during the Philippines’ Chairmanship and congratulated Singapore as the next ADMM Chair. He encouraged all ASEAN Member States to support Singapore in carrying out its responsibilities as the incoming Chair while maintaining ASEAN Centrality.