Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has used the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Hanoi to expand on Australia’s vision for 2020 defence engagement.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds' media statement has emphasised Australia's commitment to working with its regional partners to support an "open, inclusive and prosperous" Indo-Pacific.
A key component of this was Minister Reynolds outlining a number of principles that should be used to help Australia and its ASEAN partners expand their shared interests, with Minister Reynolds stating: "Australia seeks to advance its shared interests with ASEAN in regional peace and stability, as enunciated in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper and 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
"ASEAN sits at the heart of the Indo-Pacific and we will work with our ASEAN partners to achieve common goals and priorities and reflect shared values."
Building on this, Minister Reynolds identified the following principles:
- Mutual respect: Engaging with ASEAN, and its members, as equal partners; valuing and welcoming their views and opinions, and respecting the rights of all states;
- ASEAN centrality: ASEAN plays a critical role in supporting an inclusive and rules-based approach to maintaining regional security and stability. Australia will continue to support a strong, cohesive and resilient ASEAN and its central role in regional architecture;
- Supporting sovereignty: Supporting resilience, independence and sovereignty to bolster each country’s freedom and capacity to shape its own future;
- Addressing areas of shared priority: Ensuring Australian engagement with ASEAN draws on the strengths of each partner and addresses areas of common importance;
- Transparency: Communicating openly and honestly with ASEAN partners on priorities, concerns and opportunities, particularly on regional security issues and the evolving strategic environment; and
- Respect for international law and norms: Australia’s defence engagement with ASEAN will seek to support an effective and equitable rules-based international order that protects the interests of all countries. It will promote the peaceful resolution of disputes, and adherence to international law, such as the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Additionally, Minister Reynolds sought to highlight additional areas of priorities for Australia's 2020 engagement with its ASEAN partners.
"Australia’s co-operation with defence organisations in south-east Asia is underpinned by close engagement with our ASEAN partners in support of our shared regional priorities.
"While Australian cooperation with the region is wide-ranging, we have identified eight priority areas for defence co-operation where we can work with ASEAN to deliver practical, effective and meaningful contributions in support of shared objectives," Minister Reynolds said.
These priorities include:
- Education and training: Sharing experience and expertise through diverse training opportunities to boost the capability of regional defence organisations;
- Women, peace and security: Working together to increase women’s participation in peace and security processes in the region, reflecting that women’s voices help prevent and resolve conflict and support economic recovery and growth;
- Peacekeeping: Providing practical support to help maintain or increase valued contributions from the region to United Nations peacekeeping missions;
- Countering terrorism: Building shared regional capability to address the evolving threat of terrorism;
- Maritime security: Supporting regional stability and prosperity by working together to address threats to the security of maritime activities, and maintaining free and open sea lines of communication;
- Military medicine: Boosting our respective capacity to address common health challenges, including through Australia’s co-chairmanship with Brunei of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Military Medicine 2020-2022;
- Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief: Ensuring our region is prepared and postured to work together to respond effectively to natural disasters; and
- Promoting communication, co-operation and interoperability: Reinforcing open lines of communication with regional defence organisations and developing greater capacity to co-operate by building relationships, habits of cooperation and a common understanding of methodologies required to work together.
21 FEBRUARY 2020
By: Stephen Kuper