In the post-Cold War era, there has been a notable emphasis on studying and evaluating international and regional organizations. Such organizations have the potential to address the security threats faced by their member states and to promote the development of underprivileged regions.
Additionally, by increasing trade volumes, member states can become mutually interdependent, which can in turn facilitate the resolution of outstanding conflicts. This is particularly important, as unresolved conflicts can hinder not only the economic development of member states but also that of the wider region. The member states of CICA are currently grappling with various challenges, including extremism, economic difficulties, insurgencies, a lack of cooperation, and longstanding conflicts that have the potential to escalate into armed conflict.
Regional bodies promote integration and help achieve foreign policy goals. The 21st century has seen the rise of “regionalism” in global politics, with a focus on trade and markets. Economic issues are paramount, but strategic and military concerns also play a role. Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech delayed Asian cooperation during the Cold War. Power struggles persist in Asia, but the region has experienced resurgence, contributing substantially to the world’s GDP. Asian states are creating their organization, inspired by the EU’s progress.
The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) wields a significant influence in the domain of regional security and peace-building, through the prism of complex interdependence and liberal institutionalism theory. The intergovernmental forum, which consists of 27 member states, is dedicated to fortifying confidence and instilling a spirit of dialogue amongst nations in Asia. Its primary objective is to cultivate trust among member states, by fostering a conducive environment for effective and fruitful discussions.
CICA’s importance is underscored by its significant contributions to regional peace and stability. The organization provides a platform for member states to engage in meaningful deliberations on crucial security concerns, such as the advocacy of nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, and confidence-boosting measures. The organization also encourages cooperation on issues related to terrorism, extremism, and transnational crime.
The role of Kazakhstan’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was also crucial in the formation of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). In 1992, President Nazarbayev supported the proposal to create the CICA, and Kazakhstan hosted the first CICA meeting in Almaty that same year. The organization’s founding was based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter, which emphasized the importance of dialogue, cooperation, and confidence-building among nations.
As the host country of the first CICA meeting, Kazakhstan played a significant role in shaping the agenda of the organization and ensuring its success. In subsequent years, Kazakhstan continued to play an active role in promoting the goals and objectives of the CICA. In 2002, the second CICA summit was held in Almaty, which resulted in the adoption of the Almaty Act on the Achievement of the Goals of the CICA, reaffirming the commitment of member states to the principles of the organization.
The CICA has provided a platform for Asian nations to engage in constructive dialogue and build mutual trust and confidence. For example, the CICA has hosted regular meetings and discussions among member states to address key security issues, such as terrorism and regional conflicts. The CICA has worked closely with member states to develop effective strategies to counter the threat of terrorism and promote regional security. For example, the CICA has facilitated the exchange of information and intelligence among member states to enhance cooperation in this area.
The CICA has supported global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote the elimination of existing nuclear arsenals. For example, the organization has encouraged member states to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The CICA has also worked towards promoting confidence-building measures in this area, such as the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.
The CICA has helped to facilitate dialogue and cooperation among member states to address the issue of transnational crime. For example, the organization has launched initiatives to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking, and cybercrime. The CICA has played a key role in facilitating conflict resolution and preventing the escalation of violence in the region. For example, the organization has helped to facilitate peace talks between warring factions in Afghanistan and has also contributed to the resolution of conflicts in other parts of the region.
CICA has limited involvement in Pakistan and India relations, but its platform has enabled dialogue and confidence-building. In 2015, the two countries had their first high-level meeting at the CICA summit in Beijing. CICA’s emphasis on trust and cooperation in Asia can indirectly reduce tensions and promote regional stability.
From a theoretical lens, there are certain limitations of this infant organization that require reforms such as CICA’s lack of a clear mandate and limited resources. The organization does not have the mandate to intervene directly in the bilateral conflicts of its member states. This means that it can only provide a platform for dialogue and confidence-building, but it cannot take concrete actions to resolve conflicts.
As an intergovernmental forum, CICA’s mandate is relatively broad and lacks a clear mechanism for implementing policies and initiatives. Additionally, the organization’s limited financial resources have made it difficult to effectively implement its programs and projects. Finally, CICA is still a relatively new organization, and it may take some time to establish its credibility and effectiveness in the region.
In a nutshell, CICA is the future of Asia as it is playing an eminent role in promoting peace and security through its focus on building trust and promoting dialogue among member states. While it has faced limitations in its mandate and resources, the organization has made valuable contributions to regional stability and security. By promoting cooperation on key security issues and providing a platform for engagement and dialogue, CICA has the potential to further enhance regional security and contribute to the broader global peace and security agenda.
Zaman Bajwa is Islamabad based Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist