Is CICA a new ray of hope for regional prosperity?
By Zaman Bajwa
One of the most significant political events of this year will undoubtedly be the Fifth Summit of Heads of State of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which will be held on June 15 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The CICA is an International forum established to strengthen cooperation, to ensure peace, security and stability in Asia.
The CICA is an organization which has 27 member states that cover about 90 per cent of the territory and population of Asia, 8 non-member states and 5 international organizations, including the UN, have observer status.
The interesting thing about CICA creation is that the initiative was announced on 5 October 1992 at the 47th session of the UN General Assembly by Nursultan Nazarbayev the president of Kazakhstan, a state which gained independence few months ago from the former Soviet Union.
“The second aspect on which I would like to dwell is the problem of peace and security on our continent Asia, or even wider intercontinental region known as Eurasia. We are talking about the initiative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to hold the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The idea of creating on the continent structures of security and cooperation in Asia (CBSA) in the style of the OSCE in Europe has long been in the air, but has not yet received wide support, ” said Nazarbayev.
It should be noted that already in his first speech on the CICA, the Kazakh president clearly outlined his vision of the phased creation of an OSCE counterpart in Asia. His plan was implemented thanks to the tremendous work carried out by the diplomatic corps of Kazakhstan under the leadership of Nazarbayev, with the help of other countries of the continent, who were more eager to participate interested in this project. Nazarbayev indicated an approximate time frame for the creation of the Conference and the mechanism for its continuous interaction with other continental collective security systems – 2000-2005.
On June 4, 2002 in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan opened the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, which received delegates from 16 countries. Following the summit, the Almaty Act was adopted the CICA Charter, and the Declaration on the elimination of terrorism and the promotion of dialogue among civilizations.
At that time, the Western world did not pay much attention to this event, but the mass media did its magic and drew attention to the fact that the leaders of India and Pakistan, who traditionally stayed in different hotels, somewhat softened their positions in their speeches: “It seems that the summit in Almaty has already proved useful, that it has somewhat reduced the bellicose level of rhetoric between the two states.”
While speaking at the Summit plenary session president Nazarbayev said “In modern conditions it is impossible to speak with confidence about the economic prosperity of our continent without protective mechanisms that could contribute to a safer existence of the peoples of Asia. Therefore, I believe that this forum is extremely important not only from the point of view of discussing pressing political problems, but also in terms of the necessary guarantees to ensure sustainable economic growth of our countries.”
The Kazakh leader noted that the signing of the Almaty Act does not mean that tomorrow a structure like the OSCE will be ready. But this document makes it possible to conduct specific negotiations and consultations to create the organizational foundations of the CICA.
Currently, the CICA, whose secretariat is located in Kazakhstan, seeks to strengthen contacts and ties with the UN, regional and international organizations to support its efforts to strengthen peace, security and economic development in Asia. Within the framework of the Meeting, there is a special document the Catalog of Confidence Building Measures, which contains a list of confidence building measures in five main dimensions: economic, environmental, humanitarian, New Challenges and Threats (terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, trans-border crime, human trafficking, money laundering, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons), and military and political dimensions . In general, work has begun on all five dimensions.
At the Fourth CICA Summit, held on May 21, 2014 in Shanghai, Nursultan Nazarbayev took the initiative to create the Organization for Security and Development of Asia (OSDA).
“The global crisis in which the world is plunged is a general civilization crisis that is systemic. Therefore, we, the countries of Asia, need to take up the peaceful development of the continent ourselves, The Organization for Security and Development in Asia (OSDA) can play an important role in that”.
By this time, many Asian leaders already had an understanding of the need to reformat CICA activities, which successfully functioned as an International forum and dialogue platform. We need an organization that will be able to deal with urgent intergovernmental problems, primarily economic cooperation and the resolution of existing conflicts. All previous work on the development of the CICA gives grounds to consider the new project to be quite realistic.
Assessing the colossal work that resulted in the emergence of a new authoritative organization, including the states in which half the population of the Earth lives, one should not forget how this process began.
Back in 1992, the leader of one of the newly formed states of the post-communist era comes to the podium of the United Nations and proposes the creation of an Asian OSCE. What made the representatives of Asian countries interested in the said idea? Of course, one of Nazarbayev’s decisions to close the largest nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, which was made before its independence, a known fact that everybody knew off, would have attracted the attention of this speaker. But apparently not only that, The speech of the Kazakh leader containing a brief but in-depth analysis of global and continental politics, succinct and persuasive language, completely built around the core issue of security in the world, made us seriously think about the problems that Nazarbayev offered to consider.
Today it is necessary to recognize that the CICA, to a large extent – the creation of Nazarbayev, as well as the Eurasian Economic Union. The idea of creating the CICA arose thanks to his great political foresight, his sense of duty in ensuring regional security and stability in the world as a whole.
The upcoming Fifth CICA Summit is expected to be attended by top officials from 20 countries. Taking into account the previous developments and the high level of participation of the CICA member states, it can be expected that the Summit will be able to give new impetus to the further promotion of confidence building measures, will be an effective platform for discussing the most pressing issues of concern to all members of the meeting.
The writer is Islamabad-based social activist and freelance journalist. He tweets @Zamanbajwaa