The fifth ASEAN Defense Minister Meeting (ADMM) issued on Thursday a joint declaration that called for cooperation on peacekeeping and military procurement
The call came in the form of backing the adoption of concept papers on an ASEAN Peacekeeping Center Network and an ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration (ADIC).
Delegates also accepted the results of the second workshop of the Use of ASEAN Military Assets and Capacities in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
Riefqi Muna, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the joint declaration demonstrated substantial progress in the security sector at ASEAN’s higher levels.
“ASEAN has started to move forward in the right direction,” he told The Jakarta Post over the telephone.
However ASEAN still had many challenges to overcome, Riefqi added, saying that implementing the ADIC initiative faced several obstacles, including the diversity of member nations, which required confidence-building measures.
“We must also build a commitment at the political and operational levels to implement the collaboration and buy the products,” he said.
Riefqi said many suppliers were interested in bidding on a portion of ASEAN’s US$25 billion annual defense expenditures.
Another issue was standardization, which would require a long term commitment to reduce multiple sources for military equipment, he added.
Riefqi said that peacekeeping would help professionalize ASEAN’s militaries although defense cooperation would be influenced by the attitude of individual nations.
“Peacekeeping operations under the United Nations do not make distinction whether you are from a democratic country or not,” he said.
He said it was easy to set up such concepts on paper but implementtion would take a long time.