By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
NEW DELHI, India—”There can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.”
This was affirmed in the Delhi Declaration adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Republic of India, highlighting the two parties’ vow to strengthen maritime security and cooperation in the region to combat terrorism and transnational crimes.
The 10 leaders of ASEAN met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi for the 2018 India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, the first related summit for the 32nd Summit this year.
The signing of the Delhi Declaration marked the 25th anniversary of the robust ties of the regional bloc and the sub-continent.
In the declaration, the leaders of the 50-year-old bloc and India agreed to strengthen and deepen their strategic partnership in the fields of political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation, through further strengthening of relevant institutional mechanisms.
They also agreed to broaden network between government institutions, parliamentarians, business circles, scientists, academicians, think-tanks, media, youth and other stakeholders, for the building of a peaceful, harmonious, caring and sharing community in our regions.
Political and Security Cooperation
In the field of political and security cooperation, ASEAN and India reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together on common regional and international security issues of mutual concern and ensure an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture.
Both parties also reaffirmed to maintain and promote peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and over-flight in the region; strengthen maritime cooperation; and unite to prevent and manage accidents and incidents at the sea.
They also pledged to deepen cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, violent extremism and radicalization through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation and capacity building.
Both parties vowed to strengthen cooperation and collaboration to combating other transnational crimes, including people smuggling, trafficking in persons, illicit drug trafficking, cybercrime, and piracy and armed robbery against ships.
They reiterated their commitment to promote comprehensive approach to combat terrorism through close cooperation by disrupting and countering terrorists, terrorist groups, and networks. These include countering cross-border movement of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters, and misuse of the Internet, including social media, by terror entities.
They vowed to strengthen cooperation to stop terrorism financing efforts, and prevent recruitment of members of terrorist groups, and take further urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism while stressing that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.
Aside from enhancing political and security cooperation in the region, ASEAN and India vowed to strengthen ASEAN-India economic relations; and intensify efforts in 2018 toward the swift conclusion of a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
They also agreed to cooperate for conservation and sustainable use of marine resources in the Indian and Pacific Oceans in accordance with international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and address threats to these resources.
Both parties agreed to deepen cooperation in the area of aviation through the convening of air services consultations and the establishment of air transport cooperation on technical, economic, and regulatory matters between ASEAN and India. They expressed a desire to establish closer ASEAN-India air links to promote tourism, trade, and enhance greater connectivity between ASEAN and India.
Both parties agreed to promote maritime transport cooperation and encourage potential private sector participation in the development of seaports.
They agreed to strengthen cooperation in information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance ICT policies, build capacity, improve digital connectivity, infrastructure and services and develop ICT human resources.
Both parties want to further promote stable and sustainable growth for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through enhancing capacity building, technical assistance, distribution channels, financing facilities, access to innovation, and opportunities.
ASEAN and India agreed to cooperate on the promotion of their civilizational and historical links by providing platforms for knowledge exchanges among policy-makers, managers, and the academicians concerned.
They also agreed to intensify efforts to preserve, protect and restore cultural and historical symbols and structures which are of mutual interest in reflecting the ASEAN-India cultural and historical connection.
Both parties agreed to encourage health cooperation in several areas, particularly in the area of strengthening health system and access to care, as well as safe and good quality medical products and affordable quality medicines, including traditional and complementary medicines. They also agreed to strengthen ASEAN-India cooperation in disaster management and humanitarian assistance.
They also agreed to promote dialogue between government officials and relevant stakeholders on empowerment of women, the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children, the elimination of all forms of violence against them, and promotion of women.