First ASEAN-US Defense Forum Held in Hawaii

Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin joins the other ASEAN defense ministers in an informal meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Held in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 1-3 and dubbed as US-ASEAN Defense Forum, the meeting of the 11 defense ministers in an informal meeting enabled them to exchange views on pressing global and regional issues to include maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as discuss ways on how to further move forward ASEAN and the US cooperation in the field of defense.

Noting that it has been 12 years since the Declaration of Parties in the South China came about, Secretary Gazmin emphasized the urgency of having the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at the soonest possible time. It is now time to move past the declaration to an actual code of conduct, Secretary Gazmin stressed.

A day prior to the informal meeting on April 3, the eleven ministers also had a roundtable discussion on the matter of humanitarian assistance and disaster response. With Secretary Gazmin jumpstarting the discussions by sharing the Philippines experience and lessons learned with Super Typhoon Haiyan, the defense ministers together with non-governmental experts on HA/DR explored ways on how to enhance the capacity of ASEAN as a collective to respond and mitigate the effects of similar occurrences in the future.

The 2-day interaction among the ministers culminated with Secretary Hagel suggesting that such informal meeting between the US and the ASEAN defense ministers be sustained and held regularly.