Presidents pose for a picture during the 16-nation Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, in Almaty, June 4, 2002. From left: Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf , Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev.
The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev first presented the initiative to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at the UN General Assembly in October 1992. Aimed the creation of a security framework for Asia this initiative received solid support from many Asian nations as well as from a number of international bodies, first of all, the United Nations and the OSCE.
On 14 September 1999, at their meeting in Almaty Foreign Ministers of the CICA Member States signed the Declaration on the Principles Guiding Relations among the CICA states. With the signing of the Declaration which laid the legal basis of a system of security for Asia, the CICA has become a unique forum for establishing such a system.
The signatories of the Declaration confirmed their determination to respect and put into practice in their relations with each other the following principles: sovereign equality, respect for rights inherent in sovereignty; refraining from the threat or use of force Territorial integrity of the Member States; peaceful settlement of disputes; non-intervention in internal affairs; economic, social and cultural cooperation; human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Conference is particularly important in terms that it potentially can become such a structure for Asia that would allow its members both to broaden the sphere of joint interests among the states with various foreign policy priorities and to resolve issues important for all the Asian nations.
The membership of the Conference is diverse, and includes Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine National Administration, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. In October 2004, a new member, Thailand, joined the CICA. The UN, the OSCE, as well as the number of countries including the United States have the observer status in this Conference.
The First CICA Summit provided a timely opportunity for the Asian nations to address modern challenges to the international peace and stability and set out the vision to tackle them. The 16 nations signed the Almaty Act, establishing the CICA and pledging to work "towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia."
The Summit adopted the CICA Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue among Civilizations: "We underline that terrorism cannot be attributed to religion, nationality, or civilization," the leaders said. "We consider as one of the primary tasks of the international community to strengthen efforts to eliminate poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, extremism, intolerance, entrenched hatred and all forms of discrimination."
"We consider CICA as a unique Asian forum which comprises states of different cultures and traditions making it one of the most important mechanisms to promote dialogue among civilizations and cultures," the leaders declared.
On 22-23 October, 2004 the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the CICA member-states was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Delegations from Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, United States, Vietnam, Ukraine, Philippines, Singapore, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sri-Lanka as well as the United Nations, OSCE and European Union have participated as the observers.
On the margins of the meeting the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand H.E. Dr Surakiart Sathirathai has signed the basic CICA documents and thereby Thailand has become a full member of the CICA.
Mr. Surakiart Sathirathai stated that Thailand initiated the new pan-Asia cooperation, called the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, or ACD. The objectives of CICA and those of ACD are meant to complement each other. While the ACD concentrates on the development agenda and CICA on security and confidence-building measures, both could help bring about the ultimate goal: the emergence of the new Asia. That is an “Asian Community.”
The main outcome of the CICA Ministerial meeting is the adoption of the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures (CBM), the Rules of Procedure and Ministerial Declaration which reflects a consolidated vision and positions of the CICA member-states on key issues of regional and global security.
The CICA CBM Catalogue has become the first wide scale document in Asia which envisaged a multilateral cooperation of countries on a wide spectrum of stability and security issues. Representatives of the participating states have stressed that as the forum for dialogue the CICA perfectly responds to the political realities of the CICA field of responsibility.
The success of the CICA is also proven by the growing interest of a number Southeast Asian countries to it. Representatives of Singapore and Sri-Lanka at the Ministerial meeting have expressed their intention to participate in the CICA process as observers. The head of delegation of the Republic of Korea has informed that official Seoul is seriously considering applying for a full membership of the CICA prior to the CICA Summit in 2006.
The meetings of Senior Officials and Special Working Groups of the CICA took place in Kazakhstan on 2-5 August 2005 to discuss various issues, including implementation of confidence building measures in the military-political, economic, humanitarian and ecological dimensions, as well as terms of reference for a permanent CICA Secretariat to be based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Second Summit of the organizations will take place in Kazakhstan next year.