Defence ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries signed the 13th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Joint Declaration on Sustainable Security on 11 Jul during the 13th ADMM in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Joint Declaration underscores the ASEAN countries' commitment to promote sustainable security cooperation. The defence ministers also exchanged views on regional security challenges and discussed the need to deepen cooperation to address shared challenges during the ADMM.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen commended the good progress of ASEAN since its inception.
He said, "Over the years, we have been coming up with more initiatives and that is a good sign… the overall picture is that this is a security grouping that is dealing with challenges that individual countries or all countries face and then over the years promulgating measures to deal with them and I think that is a very good sign for ASEAN."
The leaders also acknowledged the importance of initiatives adopted by the ADMM in recent years, such as confidence-building measures that enhance information sharing and help to reduce the risk of miscalculations.
These include the Terms of Reference for the ASEAN Our Eyes initiative, a collaborative platform for information exchange; and the Guidelines for Maritime Interaction, an initiative to facilitate the peaceful management of tensions that could arise at sea which was adopted in 2017. The leaders also agreed to expand the ASEAN Direct Communications Infrastructure (ADI), adopted in 2014, to the ADMM-Plus countries.
Dr Ng added that by working together, these initiatives benefit the ASEAN member states' peoples. "Ultimately, all that the security agencies do are for their own people whether it is to protect their rights, their lives, or their livelihoods.
"And the more coordinated we are, the more we work together, I think the more the people of ASEAN, our people in individual countries, benefit," he said.
While in Thailand, the ASEAN defence ministers also called on Thailand Prime Minister General (GEN) Prayut Chan-o-cha before the ADMM. In addition, Dr Ng met with Thailand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence GEN Prawit Wongsuwan.