Ensuring regional peace, security and cooperation is the major goal of politics-security cooperation among the ASEAN nations and between the bloc and its partners.

Pham Quang Vinh, Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of Vietnamese Senior Officials to ASEAN, made the comment in an article highlighting ASEAN’s politics-security cooperation in 2010 when Vietnam plays chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Politics-security cooperation is one of the three pillars in the roadmap towards the building of an ASEAN Community. Looking back the past year, it could be seen that politics-security cooperation within the ASEAN countries and between the group and its partners were strengthened in all aspects and reaped a wide range of significant results, thus promoting confidence building dialogues and practically contributing to the enhancement of regional peace, security, stability and cooperation as well as to effectively coping with emerging challenges, both traditional and non-traditional security.

Underlining the achievements, Vinh said politics-security cooperation has helped to further step up confidence building cooperation and dialogues for regional peace, stability and security through different cooperation frameworks, levels and forums within ASEAN and between the bloc and its partners.

During the year, ASEAN actively embarked on plans of action and cooperation programmes in various spheres, including politics-security, increasing dialogues and confidence building, boosting cooperative relations for mutual trust and understanding, and promoting the building and sharing of common conduct norms and rules based on the principle of respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference into each other’s internal affairs and peaceful settlement of regional disputes.

Politics-security cooperation has helped strengthen and uphold the values of the existing regional cooperation agreements, mechanisms and tools designed to ensure peace and security and peacefully solve disputes, especially the ASEAN Treaty for Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Non-nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on Conduct of Parties on the East Sea (DOC), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The past year also saw the building of new cooperation mechanisms to support the current cooperation frameworks and dialogues for regional peace and security. The most important move was the first ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), making it the top and regular strategic dialogue mechanism on national defence and security of Defence Ministers of the ASEAN nations and key partners.

The meeting agreed to set up five working groups to promote cooperation in responding to disasters , maritime security, military medicine, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping operations, and to organise the second ADMM+ in Brunei in 2013.

In 2010, ASEAN also convened the first Meeting of ASEAN Chiefs of Security Agencies (MACOSA), creating a new cooperation channel in the region to increase dialogues and sharing of information about security-related issues, thereby deepening friendly relations among the regional countries.

The official noted that ASEAN has further beefed up cooperation in coping with non-traditional security challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, maritime security and safety, counter-terrorism and combating crimes.

Cooperation in this field among the ASEAN nations and between the bloc and its partners were given top priority and reaped more practical results. The cooperation was deployed at regional, multilateral and bilateral levels and frameworks, including ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit (EAS), ARF, ADMM and ADMM+ as well as sub-regional frameworks, particularly the Mekong Sub-region and between ASEAN and the United Nations.

The 17 th ARF adopted a broad range of measures to enhance cooperation in natural disaster relief, combating terrorism and trans-national crimes, maritime security, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and peacekeeping operations.

One of the cooperation spheres that ASEAN and its partners gave priority in 2010 was maritime security, shipping security and safety, fighting piracy and preventing and mitigating maritime disasters within ASEAN as well as the frameworks of ASEAN+1, ARF and ADMM+.

Worthy of note was the launching of the ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) with its first meeting convened in Surabaya , Indonesia , in July 2010, forming a new regional cooperation framework on sea-related issues. The bloc also adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Cooperation in Search and Rescue of Persons and Vessels in Distress at Sea.

ASEAN agreed to settle arising complicated issues based on constructive dialogues, international law and the ASEAN Charter. In 2010, a number of matters emerged in the region, including those regarding relations between regional nations, Myanmar issue, unrest in Thailand , escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula .

In dealing with such issues, ASEAN persistently advocated dialogues, confidence building and peaceful settlement of disputes, firstly among concerned countries, maintaining a favourable atmosphere for cooperation, reliable and constructive dialogues covering issues of mutual concern for the sake of regional peace, security, stability and cooperation.

Accordingly, final documents and declarations on the relevant issues were adopted by ASEAN meetings with high consensus, especially from the concerned parties, helping ASEAN improve its dynamic, proactive and responsible role as well as its common voice.

The shaping of the regional cooperation architecture is of important and long-term significance to East Asia and a matter that has attracted different recommendations and opinions.

Along with strengthening and enhancing its centrality in the region, the bloc clearly demonstrated its leading role in shaping the regional cooperation architecture in accordance with East Asia ’s features and ASEAN’s interests. That is a multi-level architecture based on the existing regional cooperation processes, in which ASEAN holds the decisive role to strive for the shared target of regional peace, stability and development cooperation, while declining to support a single regional architecture covering the whole Asia-Pacific region.

ASEAN encouraged the wide and deep participation, and the constructive and positive contributions of its partners in building the ASEAN Community as well as in dealing with regional issues of mutual concern. The grouping’s central role and ways of approach were backed and highly valued by its partner nations both in and outside the region.

Looking at the said-above achievements, it could be seen that Vietnam had made important contributions as a dynamic, proactive, responsible and fair-minded Chair. In its capacity as ASEAN Chair, Vietnam was able to define suitable common priorities for 2010 and effectively coordinate operations throughout the year, in all frameworks and channels.

The achievements recorded in the implementation of the roadmap towards the ASEAN Politics-Security Community (APSC) as well as the expansion and deepening of ASEAN’s relations with partners in all spheres resulted in the greater efficiency in coping with emerging challenges, both traditional and non-traditional security, and elevating the bloc’s centrality in the region.

Vietnam proved to be an active and responsible ASEAN Chair when the nation recommended initiatives and measures, and held consultations with other ASEAN members and partners to promote confidence building dialogues, so that high consensus could be reached on issues of common concern, resulting in regional decisive policies and smooth dealing with emerging complicated matters.

Nations applauded Vietnam’s success in generating a high unanimity for the expansion of EAS by inviting Russia and the United States to participate in this summit as official members, the launching and holding of ADMM+, the hosting of the first MACOSA, as well as the approval of the ASEAN Declaration on Cooperation in Search and Rescue of Persons and Vessels in Distress at Sea, the Plan of Action to Implement the ARF Vision Statement to 2020 and many other documents, considering these important and long-term contributions to regional peace, stability and security./.