Institiutionalized Security Cooperation Is the Key!

Our region has gone through different challenges coming from different sources and actors. Traditional and non-traditional security threats are no longer separated but integrated as a comprehensive human security issues. Comprehensive security is the holistic product generated from political, economic, security, cultural, social, and environmental realms.

The increasing level of security interdependence demands us to keep changing our tailored approaches based on new realities. We need cooperative efforts and activities to address the issues together.

As we are living in a multi-polar world, multilateralism is our guiding philosophy and principle of international relations and defense diplomacy.

The new emerging security issues require us to work hard to facilitate and accelerate reforms in regional institutional structures with more action-oriented mechanisms.

State and non-state actors need to work together to determine common root causes and find appropriate solutions to the emerging issues and uncertainties. Civil society organizations (CSOs)-State partnership is important in security sector governance and comprehensive regional security cooperation in the region.

Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), as part of the Peacekeeping Operations, is emerging to be our core value and principle in protecting civilians. We need to work in cooperation with the United Nations to ensure that the four RtoP crimes namely genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes will not occur in our region.

We need to work harder to strengthen our regional security institution. Only through regional institution, we can maintain peace and stability.  But the institution itself needs to be based on certain values. Security governance, democracy, and human rights should be the foundation of security cooperation in our region.

Confidence building measures, preventive diplomacy, and approaches to conflict need to go hand in hand. We need to integrate these three aspects into the institutionalization process of security cooperation. Without strong institution, we the small and medium sized states in Southeast Asia will be shaken by superpowers’ strategic competition and rivalry.

ASEAN has pursued open regionalism with inclusiveness to all relevant countries in the region and beyond. It is believed that through such expanded regionalism, ASEAN can exert and maximize its strategic and economic interests particularly can absorb the resources for the dialogue partners in strengthening internal integration within ASEAN.

Security multilateralism can be at risk if ASEAN cannot prove resilient and effective in managing conflict of interest and power rivalry among the superpowers. It is therefore the matter of survival of ASEAN in staying united with one voice. Good governance and rules based security institutionalization can further strengthen the role of ASEAN.

In the field of security cooperation especially within the framework of ADMM and ADMM Plus, ASEAN has played central role in navigating for change in security mindsets and cooperation. It’s the first time in ASEAN history that many chiefs of defense from the big and medium powers come together under the ASEAN umbrella to exchange views and discuss issues openly.

ASEAN’s relations with dialogue partners especially China and US have undergone smoothly with intimacy. We can see the continuous trend of security development and cooperation towards maturity. The culture of security cooperation has been nurtured gradually with promising trend.

Our new security is a plus positive sum game which means no one loose no one win. We win together (large or small) when we expand and deepen our security cooperation. For instance, ASEAN and China have organized different security dialogue meetings at different levels in order to build a stockpile of security confidence and trust. After the first ASEAN-China Defense and Security Dialogue in March 2010, in December last year, we had a second meeting focusing on emerging security issues and adaptive mechanisms.

With the United States, ASEAN as an institution and each member state of ASEAN have actively cooperate and conduct joint military exercises and trainings at different levels in order to build trust and capacity of the security forces. We have witnessed positive engagement of the US in our region in recent years. We welcome such role played by the US in making sure our region is safe from both traditional and non-traditional threats.

Having said that, ASEAN needs to work more to internalize its strength while externalize its proactive engagement with the dialogue partners. Enhancing institutionalized security cooperation is the answer to the future security in our region.

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