Kazakhstan is the current chairman of in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The initiative to establish CICA was first “proposed” by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the plenary session of the UN General Assembly in 1992, almost 30 years ago.
The CICA is an “intergovernmental” forum aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and ensuring “peace”, “security”, and “stability” in Asia. CICA members include 27 Asian countries, including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Russia, South Korea, and Turkey, eight observer countries, and five international organizations. The Member States (MS) have their own unique historical and cultural backgrounds, but crucially share a common goal of peace and cooperation which is the real essence of CICA.
It has “holistic’ spirits of consensus, to promote peace, harmony, stability, positivity, productivity, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and dialogue and development orientations among the member states. It ensures that through constructive dialogue and multilateralism CICA Member States may also fulfill their commitment to the UN Charter. It was firmly established in the CICA Charter of 2002, also known as the Almaty Act.
Since its independence and especially in the past decade, Kazakhstan has emerged as an “important” player in the world of “mediation” of international “disputes”. It has now become a “value-addition” to its multi-vector foreign policy alongside its high profile in multilateral organizations. Thus CICA was the brainchild of Kazakhstan which desired to resolve the conflicts through resolution, dialogue, diplomacy and development. Now CICA has become a success story.
Immediately upon independence, first president Nursultan Nazarbayev initiated the idea of a Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building in Asia, which materialized in the decade that followed an important building block of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy has been its active role in multilateral diplomacy.
In his first speech to the UN General Assembly on October 5, 1992, President Nazarbayev put forward the idea of a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.
His vision was based on the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, (OSCE). He sought to build a similar structure for the Asian continent to ensure peace and security in Asia, where such structures were lacking.
Critical analysis revealed that initial responses to CICA were weak from other Asian states with skeptics thinking “the idea was not workable because of the extreme diversity of the continent and existence of multiple flash points with significant conflict potential.
It was meant to an effective platform for multilateral cooperation, preventive diplomacy and peaceful settlement of disputes. It succeeded to achieve this strategic goal by expanding the common ground between member states to create intra-regional interaction. It helps to foster trust which is the most important factor in facilitating cooperation.
But due to rigorous striving and systematic efforts of Nazarbayev the first meeting of deputy foreign ministers from fifteen countries was held in Almaty in 1996. Three years later, a first meeting of CICA Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held, and in 2002 the First CICA Summit convened in Almaty and adopted the CICA Charter. CICA was a bold and unlikely initiative.
|Important Dates||Major Events|
|1999||First Ministerial meeting|
|2004||2nd Ministerial meeting|
|2008||3rd Ministerial meeting|
|2012||4th Ministerial meeting|
It provided practical ways and means and a comprehensive holistic approach for member states to more effectively work towards these goals. It is based on dozens of confidence-building measures, which are divided into five dimensions of cooperation: Human, economic, environmental, military-political, and new challenges and threats.
Today CICA includes 27 member states and eight observers, and pursues confidence building measures in the spheres of economic cooperation and trade, environmental issues, human security, conventional military-political issues, the management of borders, and such non-traditional security threats as organized crime and terrorism.
Countries in Asia may have different history, national realities, social systems, cultures and traditions, and are faced with multiple hotspot issues, disagreements and differences. Yet, the broader common visions and common interests have enabled us to rise above differences, enhance solidarity, build mutual trust and expand cooperation.
In this regard, the CICA catalogue of Confidence Building Measures is a unique instrument which enables member states to build trust, cooperation and security through specific practical actions. It represents a dynamic and forward-looking road map for coordinated activities of member states.
As the founding Member State of CICA, Kazakhstan and now current chairman it has set forth a cluster of ambitious and forward-thinking priorities.
In this regard, transformation of CICA into a full-fledged international organization is one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship. To achieve this goal, it has all the vertical and horizontal hierarchical expertise, coordination and important integrated mechanism and elements of an international organization pertaining to foundational documents, decision-making bodies with regular meetings such as the Summit, Ministerial Meetings, and Senior Officials Committee; the working body of the Special Working Group; an allocated operational budget; and a permanent Secretariat.
It has distinctive dimensions i.e. to further enhance the role of Asia on the global stage because 21th century belongs to Asia. Hopefully its transformative expansion will significantly enhance the canvas of opportunities and tools to the member states for practical cooperation and mutual benefit, and it will be reinforced with a strong and stable institutional framework for the promotion of trust.
For the further strengthening of its functional capacity and progressive orientation, the Kazakhstan desires to establish the CICA Council of Eminent Persons. It will have an advisory role consisting of former heads of state, prominent public personas, accomplished and leading figures in their fields, which will provide member states with valuable advisory outcomes thanks to their decades of experience and leadership.
It is indeed strategic vision of Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart to facilitate expert support for the organization, strengthen its think tanks by transforming them into a permanent expert platform, and create a council of wise men that will generate proposals for the organization.
Kazakhstan also plans to form the “CICA Think Tank Forum” which is another notable initiative. Hopefully it will bring together prominent think-tanks and analytical research centers from across Asia for exchange of expertise and sharing of insights, as well as facilitating joint multilateral research projects. It is an innovative idea of forming a “Corridor of Knowledge” among the member states of CICA.
The Kazakh Chairmanship has also initiated the establishment of the CICA Fund. It will finance CICA-backed projects in official development assistance, or for emergency situations. It will be a value-addition in the capacity building drive of all the member states.
Last but not least, during the chairmanship of CICA, the member states adopted a new confidence building measure in the field of Epidemiological Safety and Pharmaceuticals (ESPs) to combat the new challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It seems that Kazakhstan as CICA Chairman has set forwarding looking, befitting propositions and beneficial targets to further strengthen the existing mechanism of CICA and equip it with significant new tools.
Undoubtedly, the 21st century brings immense challenges and opportunities to the global order in which Asia the power house and economic stimulator of the world embraces its huge economic potential and rich multiculturalism. In this regard, CICA unites 27 member states and over half of the world’s population and GDP. It aims to strengthen stability, cooperation, and connectivity in Asia by its pursuing holistic approach of befitting and binding multilateralism, free consensus, and comprehensive inclusiveness.
Being prominent regional expert of Kazakhstan & CIS I foresee that the CICA Chairmanship of Kazakhstan, will definitely achieve these goals as dynamic, diverse and development oriented regions come together towards resolving the issues.
Pakistan has regularly participated in CICA Summits and contributed significantly to its deliberations. Pakistan’s participation in the 5th Summit in Dushanbe is illustrative of its commitment to the realization of CICA’s vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asia.
Study of various research papers, scientific publications and reports indicate that in the past two decades, CICA has developed itself into the most representative and inclusive pan-Asian forum on regional security and cooperation, making steady progress on confidence building and regional cooperation, as well as promoting ideas of comprehensive, common, cooperative, and sustainable security which is commendable and great achievement on part of Kazakhstan.
CICA has played a unique role in gradually raising Asia’s self-awareness on a regional security agenda and regional architecture building. However, CICA’s overall influence on Asia’s security agenda is still limited, its potential is far from being fully realized and last but not least its long term goal of upgrading into an organization of security and cooperation in Asia (OSCA) has not yet been materialized.
Having said that it still has great opportunities and huge challenges further development and transformation.
Being prominent regional expert of Kazakhstan & CIS I, would like to submit my suggestions to make CICA a more interactive, effective, transformative, and forward looking forum/organization in the future.
CICA stands for the common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security mechanism which was synthesized as the new Asian security concept. It is a systematic and profound elaboration of Asia’s security issues highlighting the principles of cooperation, openness, and inclusiveness.
- Kazakhstan being chairman of CICA should chalk out strategic road map for its transformation, by enhancing its functional and administrative capacity and institutional building, improving the efficacy of CBMs for regional security, and helping build its overall capability of delivering more regional security public goods. In this connection, Kazakhstan should not only work more closely with the core members of CICA, but also engage well with extra-regional powers, in the area of regional security architecture building.
- Non-state security threats are on the rise due to which there is an urgent need to form a working group to tackle it. Climate change, water shortage, food & energy security and elements of xenophobia are the potential security threats to Asia which should be tackled under the umbrella of CICA to make its more relevant, productive and effective in the days to come.
- The security environment in the Asian region is complex and complicated due to which there is an urgent need to overhaul the basic structure, aims and objectives of CICA through diversified but integrated transformation both exogenously and endogenously, for upgrading and transformation of CICA into OSCA as its inevitable trajectory.
- A strategic regional security institution featuring both representativeness and inclusiveness, providing Asian countries the key role in addressing regional security as well as in the building of regional security architecture should be formed as soon as possible in which Kazakhstan should also a leading role.
- Careful strategic expansion may be initiated as soon as possible to make it the most inclusive security mechanism in Asia.
- Rigorous media advocacy campaigns should be systematically pursued for the further strengthening of CICA’s soft image in the region and beyond.
- Rigorous diplomatic efforts should be initiated to resolve the security issues in Asia through pursuing and implementing its own devised domestic models instead of replicating any other module of conflict resolution because all member states of CICA has enough capacity to manage it. Thus CICA led action should be pursued and implemented.
- With in-depth cooperation among Asian countries as the basis, CICA is able to tap its potential of building itself into the new platform of regional security cooperation, realizing the mechanism’s transformation and development, and ultimately achieving the goal of making Asia counties assume a leadership role in Asian security. Thus main focus should be on transformation and development.
- All member states should show solidarity to defeat COVID-19. In this regard, member states must strengthen solidarity, firmly support the WHO in playing its leading and coordinating role, and oppose politicizing the issue and stigmatizing specific countries. All CICA member states may chalk out its own comprehensive strategy to combat against COVID-19 pandemic through effective vaccine diplomacy.
- There is need to promote strategic trust to maintain peace and stability among the CICA member states. Stay highly alert, and firmly oppose actions to instigate and engineer a so-called “new Cold War” should be over mantra and motto.
- All CICA member states should strengthen communication and dialogue to build up and consolidate strategic trust. We should continue to advocate and act on the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and focus in promoting peace and stability in Asia and beyond.
- Persuasion of mutual benefit to achieve common development should be implemented. Synergizing of development strategies, advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, reopen economies in a systematic way, and open more fast tracks and green channel to facilitate the flow of people and goods should be initiated as soon as possible.
- Pure, diversified, dynamic yet simple multilateralism is the need of the hour to defend international equity and justice. All member states must oppose unilateralism economic protectionism and false propaganda in order to defend the international law and norms governing international relations.
- There is an urgent need to safeguard the legitimate development rights and interests of all member states; and to further improve and strengthen the regional as well as global governance system, and promote a more equitable and reasonable international order. Thus further transformation of CICA is must.
- CICA an Asian community with a shared future is the route towards development and prosperity in the region and beyond which should be holistic, comprehensive and effective in the days to come.
- Close connectivity through corridor of knowledge, culture diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy are the basis of CICA which should be implemented through collective persuasion of regional peace, security, stability, prosperity and sustainable development.
- There is an urgent need to have more financial and banking integration among all the member states of CICA which would definitely further enhance its financial & banking security in the times of crises.
- CICA Development Bank may be an innovative idea to eradicate poverty, generation of new jobs, women empowerment, development of SMEs and Micro-financing in the member states of CICA which would further enhance spirits of social security in the days to come.
- Formation of CICA Crisis Management Bank may also be effective to mitigate spillover repercussions of global warming and persuasion of green development in all the member states.
- Formation of CICA Media Bank is the need of the hour to soft image projection and disseminating its strategic importance among the people and policy makers alike.
- Formation of permanent CICA Corridor of Knowledge should be established which would be a value-addition in the days to come. In this regard role of Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) Islamabad would be very vital because of its rich experience and expertise on Eurasia. It has already prepared a comprehensive road map for the further strengthening of bilateral relations with Kazakhstan and is ready to work under the umbrella of CICA in the days to come.
To conclude being Asian we all believe in diversity and equality of civilizations. All member states of CICA as descendants of ancient Asian civilizations, believe in equality and tranquility. No civilization is superior to others, and no one should intentionally provoke clashes among civilizations. CICA member states should transcend differences in ideologies and social systems. All member states of CICA should respect, appreciate and learn from each other, and help each other succeed.