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Strengthening inter-regional diplomacy

By Ioan Voicu - posted Monday, 3 October 2022

We are in the midle of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly which started its proceedings on 13 September with a provisional agenda of 180 items covering all major global problems of humanity to be considered by 193 member states.

Australia was represented at a high level in this diplomatic event by Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs. She declared inter alia the following :

Australia seeks a region that is peaceful and predictable, that is governed by accepted rules and norms, where all our countries and peoples can cooperate, trade and thrive.Where our relations are based on respect and partnership, and guided by the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.Where all states can contribute to a strategic equilibrium in a regional order in which countries are not required to choose sides, but can make their own sovereign choices.


One of the less known and modestly publicized participant in this event , without legal status with the world organization, is the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) established in 1994.

In fact, ARF is an important iner-regional platform for promoting security dialogue in Asia and the Pacific. It provides a setting in which members can discuss current international security issues and develop cooperative measures to enhance peace and security.

The ARF is characterised by consensus-based decision-making and frank dialogue. It comprises 27 members: the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam); 10 ASEAN Dialogue Partners (Australia, Canada, China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea , Russia and the United States), as well as Bangladesh, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste.

The 29th ASEAN Regional Forum was held on 5 August 2022, in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, under the Kingdom of Cambodia's 2022 ASEAN Chairmanship.

Its main diplomatic document is ASEAN Regional Forum Statement to promote peace, stability, and prosperity through confidence building measures and preventing diplomacy.

As a result of diplomatic negotiations and drafting efforts, this document adopted by two regional organizations and by an impressive list of countries mentioned above cannot be ignored or condemned to obscurity. A short analysis of its content deserves to be shared with readers of On Line Opinion.


The document is fundamentally focused on peace and starts by reaffirming the responsibility of all members to uphold the principles of mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and equal rights of all nations as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. It calls on all nations to exercise maximum self-restraint and make utmost efforts to pursue peaceful dialogue through all channels, including diplomatic means to reduce tensions and mitigate conflicts.

It recognizes the impacts and uncertainties posed by the growing complexities of regional and global security challenges, including traditional and non-traditional security issues, and acknowledges that such challenges require a holistic and comprehensive approach to address them.

An important provision deals with the continued relevance of the ARF and the commitment of its members in promoting and maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and its vital role in building confidence and trust amongst its participants.

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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