Event Reports

ASEAN Security Connectivity: Second Workshop

by Dr. Frederick Kliem

“Concept and Practice”

Building on the great success of the inaugural workshop on ASEAN Security Connectivity (ASC) in Singapore, KASPDA proceeded with the second edition from March 19 to 21 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Together with our valued partner, the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) and the KAS Vietnam country office, we brought the ASC core group together again, in order to develop a way forward for ASEAN security cooperation.

We had the great pleasure of hosting Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, responsible of the country’s ASEAN affairs. The intended outcome of the ASC project line, consisting of three workshops and one public presentation in 2019, are an extensive publication as well as a clear set of policy recommendations for ASEAN security cooperation, which we aim to feed into the coming two chairmanships of ASEAN. Vietnam will chair the regional organisation in 2020. In this light, Minister Nguyễn’s participation in this workshop and his articulated keen interest in the recommendations are of great significance to the project and validate our efforts. The Minister spoke about Vietnam’s role in ASEAN, their security policy preferences as well as Hanoi’s expectations from its ASEAN partners. As long as ASEAN cooperation will not directly contradict Vietnam’s essential security interests, Hanoi is ready to go along with, and further deepen security multilateralism within ASEAN, the Minister remarked, and the government was open to recommendations and detailed proposals as to how ASEAN could proceed. “ASEAN can and must serve as a medium for greater integration, which must be based on rules and mutual understanding”, he added.

In their respective opening remarks, the President of the DAV, Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Vu Tung, KASPDA Director Christian Echle and KAS Vietnam Director Peter Girke all stressed that regional integration is key to an ever growing number of transnational security challenges. Such challenges are beyond nation states’ capacities and require regional solutions. The participants agreed and gave their input from a variety of angels. His Excellency Kasit Piromya, former Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand provided some first-hand insights on ASEAN security cooperation. During his time at the Thai Foreign Ministry, ASEAN could shine with successful ASEAN-initiated conflict resolution in Southeast Asia. H.E. Kasit shared his experience with ASEAN’s regional diplomacy during the Thai- Cambodian border conflict, where he himself represented one of the warring parties. The reason it worked successfully, he believed, was a proactive Indonesian ASEAN Chair in the person of Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister at the time. H.E. Kasit also felt that because the ASEAN Chair took the initiative, other member states felt they could exercise social pressure on Thailand and Cambodia to end their quarrels in a diplomatic manner to the good of the region.

Buoyed by the positive opening, the second of three workshops identified the main constituents of ASC. To that end, the working group listened to and discussed the necessities of ASEAN based security cooperation from different angles. Prof. Leszek Buszynski for instance analysed vertical connectivity from the regional – national as well as public – private nexus, while following participants discussed multi-stakeholder horizontal connectivity. Dr. Vannarith Chheang for example defined relevant regional and national stakeholders and their roles, while Hoang Thi Ha explained how ASEAN could establish connectivity across different ASEAN departments and institutions. The following day, the working group finalised the ASC strategy and named several possibilities, prerequisites as well as a multi-step implementation approach for future ASEAN security cooperation, which will be published in form of a book as well as a set of policy recommendations, to be published and presented in early 2019. Please refer to our website as well as to our coordinator for this project for updates and results.

KASPDA is looking forward to the third and final ASC Workshop in late September 2018. There, the ASC publication draft will be discussed and a set of policy recommendations drafted. The entire KAS team as well as our partner DAV would express deepest gratitude to our distinguished guests and dear friends. See you all in September.