ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus

5th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM Plus), now an annual event was held in Singapore on 20 October 2018 under the chairmanship of Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, Singapore with this year’s theme of “Strengthening Cooperation, Building Resilience”. This was the first time since inauguration that all the 18 Defence Ministers from the ten ASEAN Member States and Plus, the eight ASEAN Dialogue Partners attended the Meeting. The 12th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) was held on 19 October 2018 prior to the 5th ADMM Plus. The dialogue at the 5th ADMM Plus adopted two resolutions on:

  • ‘Preventing and Countering the Threat of Terrorism’ and
  • ‘Practical Confidence Building Measures.’

India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while speaking on the occasion emphasized India’s concern on the grave challenges to international peace and stability due to the threat of terrorism. Condemning the use of terror as an instrument to further state policies, she said that the interplay between states and non-state actors used as proxies to foment violence had worsened this menace. She also emphasised India’s commitment to a rules based international order that was inclusive and democratic. She reiterated India’s desire to work both bilaterally with ASEAN member states as well as institutionally and welcomed Thailand’s taking over the chairmanship of the ADMM Plus. Sitharaman complimented the ADMM Plus for emerging as a credible and effective platform forging practical cooperation among the members of the armed forces and assured the partners of India’s active participation in all the ADMM Plus mechanism contributing effectively to their success.

ADMM (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting) that had its inaugural meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 9 May 2006 is the highest defence consultative and cooperative mechanism in ASEAN and aims to promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defence and security challenges as well as enhancement of transparency and openness. All the ASEAN Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam are members of the ADMM

ADMM-Plus, a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners (Plus) to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region, was established the 2nd ADMM in Singapore in 2007, in consistence with the ADMM guiding principles of open and outward looking. Inaugural ADMM-Plus was convened in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, on 12 October 2010. The Defence Ministers then agreed on five areas of practical cooperation to pursue under this new mechanism, namely Maritime Security, Counter-Terrorism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Peacekeeping Operations and Military Medicine. Humanitarian Mine Action as the 6th priority area was established following the endorsement of the 7th ADMM in Brunei Darussalam on 7 May 2013. Cyber Security was included as the 7th priority area following the endorsement of the 10th ADMM in Vientiane, Lao PDR, on 25 May 2016. The ADMM-Plus countries include ten ASEAN Member States and eight Plus countries, the eight ASEAN Dialogue Partners, namely Australia, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America

2nd ADMM-Plus was convened in Bandar Seri Begawan on 29 August 2013.

3rd ADMM-Plus was convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 4 November 2015.

4th ADMM-Plus was convened in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines, on 24 October 2017.

At the 5th ADMM Plus, the Defence Ministers affirmed the ADMM-Plus as the de facto multilateral security mechanism in the Asia-Pacific and affirmed ASEAN’s centrality in the regional security architecture. Experts’ Working Groups for the seven domains (priority areas) of maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, military medicine, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian mine action, and cyber security provided for military-to-military interactions and cooperation.

During the 5th ADMM-Plus, the Defence Ministers:

  • Agreed for specific initiatives to deal with terrorism and prevention of mishaps in the air for military aircraft.
  • Proposed and supported a common information-sharing platform.
  • Agreed to step up practical military-to-military cooperation through the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter-Terrorism (EWG on CT).
  • Agreed to promote communication, mutual trust and confidence and reduce miscalculations and mishaps in the region.
  • Proposed and supported a set of guidelines on air military encounters to promote a safe operating environment which represented the first such agreement in a multilateral defence establishment.
  • Exchanged views on other common security challenges, including the situation in the Korean Peninsula, recent developments in the South China Sea, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and cyber threats.
  • Emphasised the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Expressed the hope for the good progress and expeditious conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The Defence Ministers also witnessed the ADMM Chairmanship Handover Ceremony from Singapore to Thailand and expressed full support for the upcoming 6th ADMM-Plus and 13th ADMM in Thailand in 2019.


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