Asia’s Largest Security Group Secures Peace Over 25 Years

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) has come an incredibly long way since President Nursultan Nazarbayev stood before his fellow world leaders at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on October 5, 1992 and told them of his proposal. In an opinion published Oct. 5 in The Global Times, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov argues that in the 25 years since then, the initiative has brought about tangible fruits and promising prospects.

“Through the unfaltering determination of the region and the resolute support of the international community, CICA has blossomed over the last quarter century to become what it is today”, said Abdrakhmanov. Representing 26 member states, and covering nearly 90 percent of the area and population of Asia, CICA is now an effective platform, capable of fulfilling its objective of nurturing a confident, secure and peaceful regional environment.

According to Abdrakhmanov, a number of factors have contributed to its prominence as an effective platform. The specific codification of its confidence-building measures, for example, has allowed CICA to ensure that there are concrete principles and procedures for member states to respect and adhere to. The CICA Catalogue of Confidence-Building Measures outlines five key areas of cooperation, acknowledging the complexity that security issues have in the modern world. This includes traditional security issues, such as matters concerning military power, but also acknowledges the role of economic, environmental, human, cultural, humanitarian, and civil society cooperation, in the realm of regional security.

The Foreign Minister reminded that during CICA’s establishment the signatories of the principles included states that did not even have established diplomatic relations with each other. In contributing to this platform whilst setting aside their differences, these states have given CICA legitimacy as a respectable forum with the tenet of diplomacy and dialogue at its very core.

“Within seven years of the idea being proposed by President Nazarbayev at the UN General Assembly, the first CICA Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs was taking place in Almaty, with the involvement of the 15 founding members. Within a decade, the idea had materialised into the first ever CICA Summit in Kazakhstan in 2002 and the Almaty Act – a constitutive document outlining collective security challenges, confidence building measures, and the basic institutional structure of CICA”, writes Abdrakhmanov.

Within a decade, the idea had materialised into the first ever CICA Summit in Kazakhstan in 2002 and the Almaty Act – a constitutive document outlining collective security challenges, confidence building measures, and the basic institutional structure of CICA. Within 12 years, the second meeting of CICA Ministers of Foreign Affairs produced the CICA Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures and CICA Rules of Procedure, which still guide the operations of the conference today.

Abdrakhmanov pointed out the establishment of institutions such as the CICA Secretariat in Astana, CICA Youth Council, the CICA Business Council, the CICA Non-Governmental Forum, and the CICA Think-Tank Forum as the testament of the successful development of the forum.

According to Abdrakhmanov, President Nazarbayev’s initiative has since found strong support from numerous parties, as exemplified by its wide and growing membership spanning from Cairo to Seoul and from Moscow to Phnom Penh.

Abdrakhmanov correctly points out that when considering CICA, parallels and comparisons with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), are inevitable. The CICA has many common elements with the OSCE. However, one must admit that Asia is more complex and diverse in political, civilizational, economic and geographical terms. It is the huge complexity of this part of the world that makes the CICA unique and in demand.

On the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, the foreign ministers of CICA congregated at an informal meeting to mark the 25th Anniversary of the forum and reinforce the organisations our commitment to peace and diplomacy, and our faith in dialogue.

Abdrakhmanov is hopeful despite many complex challenges CICA members can definitely be sure that they are on the right track, pursuing effective multilateral approaches to promote peace, security and stability in Asia.