DND Sustains Engagement in ARF Meetings

The Philippines’ Department of National Defense sustained its participation in the Defense Officials Dialogue (DOD) and the meeting of Inter-sessional Support Group (ISG) on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and Preventive Diplomacy (PD) of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Held in Phom Penh, Cambodia on 8 December 2011 and co-chaired by Cambodia and New Zealand, the DOD focused on strengthening cooperation on peacekeeping operations and maritime security, two issues which the Philippines attaches great importance.

The Philippines co-chairs with New Zealand the working group on peacekeeping operations of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus (see related release). Recent developments in the West Philippine Sea highlight the importance of maritime security cooperation.

The ISG on CBMs and PD held on 9 December 2011 reviewed the progress of the ARF in building confidence among regional states and undertaking preventive diplomacy measures where necessary and appropriate. More importantly, the meeting considered proposals forfurther enhancing the ARF's capacity to undertake preventive diplomacy. In 1995, a year after the ARF first met, the foreign ministers envisioned a three-stage development for the forum: confidence building, preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution.

With the launching of the ADMM-Plus in October 2010, there is now a need to clearly chart the roles for both the ARF and the ADMM-Plus in the regional security architecture, an issue which was also taken up in the ISG meeting. This is to ensure that the two bodies complement one another and overlaps are minimized, if not avoided. Also discussed was the need to streamline the DOD and ISG meetings given that defense officials now meet through the ADMM-Plus. Such streamlining are expected to be finalized when the ISG and DOD meets in New Zealand in May 2012 prior to the ARF meeting in July.