The Twenty-Sixth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post Ministerial Conference, which were held in Singapore on 23-25 July 1993, agreed to establish the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The inaugural meeting of the ARF was held in Bangkok on 25 July 1994.
The objectives of the ASEAN Regional Forum are outlined in the First ARF Chairman’s Statement (1994), namely:
to foster constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues of common interest and concern; and
to make significant contributions to efforts towards confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 27th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (1994) stated that “The ARF could become an effective consultative Asia-Pacific Forum for promoting open dialogue on political and security cooperation in the region. In this context, ASEAN should work with its ARF partners to bring about a more predictable and constructive pattern of relations in the Asia Pacific.”
On the tenth year of the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ARF Ministers met in Phnom Penh on 18 June 2003 and declared that “despite the great diversity of its membership, the forum had attained a record of achievements that have contributed to the maintenance of peace, security and cooperation in the region.” They cited in particular:
The usefulness of the ARF as a venue for multilateral and bilateral dialogue and consultations and the establishment of effective principles for dialogue and cooperation, featuring decision-making by consensus, non-interference, incremental progress and moving at a pace comfortable to all.
The willingness among ARF participants to discuss a wide range of security issues in a multilateral setting.
The mutual confidence gradually built by cooperative activities.
The cultivation of habits of dialogue and consultation on political and security issues.
The transparency promoted by such ARF measures as the exchange of information relating to defense policy and the publication of defense white papers and
The networking developed among national security, defense and military officials of ARF participants.
The current participants in the ARF are as follows: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, United States, and Vietnam.
The ASEAN Regional Forum adopted in July 1996 the following criteria for participation:
All new participants, who will all be sovereign states, must subscribe to, and work cooperatively to help achieve the ARF’s key goals. Prior to their admission, all new participants should agree to abide by and respect fully the decisions and statements already made by the ARF. All ASEAN members are automatically participants of ARF.
A new participant should be admitted only if it can be demonstrated that it has an impact on the peace and security of the “geographical footprint” of key ARF activities (i.e. Northeast and Southeast Asia as well as Oceania).
Efforts must be made to control the number of participants to a manageable level to ensure the effectiveness of the ARF.
All applications for participation should be submitted to the Chairman of the ARF, who will consult all the other ARF participants at the SOM and ascertain whether a consensus exists for the admission of the new participant. Actual decisions on participation will be approved by the Ministers.
In May 2013, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) members, including the ten ASEAN Member States, gathered for the third ARF Disaster Relief Exercise (DiREx) in Cha-am, Phetchaburi, Thailand. Using a scenario of 8.9-magnitude earthquake and typhoon, disaster management agencies and emergency responders from civil and military institutions of ARF members exercised their coordination and disaster relief mechanisms. Key actors in disaster relief operation in the Asia and Pacific region, including the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assitance on disaster management (AHA Centre), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, also actively participated in this event. #OneASEAN #OneResponse #asean #unocha #redcross #thailand