The region’s premier security forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), today adopted a Plan of Action aimed at making the forum more action-oriented in the future. The Ha Noi Plan of Action to Implement the ARF Vision Statement, which contains policy guidance for the ARF to develop and implement concrete and practical actions toward the year 2020, was adopted by the 17th ARF Meeting in Ha Noi.

The Plan of Action represents an evolution in the ARF, aimed at making the forum more action-oriented in addressing multi-dimensional challenges, especially the non-traditional security threats that have direct impact on peace and security in the region. Six areas of cooperation are identified in the Plan of Action as the basis for future ARF work, namely disaster relief; counter terror and transnational crime; maritime security; non-proliferation and disarmament; peacekeeping operations; and defence dialogue. The way forward for the ARF to implement preventive diplomacy and the enhancement of ARF’s institutional features are also given primary attention in the Plan of Action.

The Plan of Action is based on the ARF Vision Statement which was adopted at the 16th ARF in Phuket, Thailand, in July 2009. The Vision Statement aimed to enhance cooperation and promote a more effective security partnership among the ARF participants.

Noting the going discussions on the various proposals on the regional architecture in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific, the ARF Ministers reiterated support for ASEAN’s central role in the existing regional mechanisms as well as in an evolving regional architecture. The Meeting welcomed the convening of the 1st ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) to be held in October 2010 in Viet Nam and underscored the importance of the envisaged ADMM Plus complementing the work of the ARF.

The 17th ARF wrapped up the series of week-long meetings held here in Ha Noi. A Signing Ceremony was held for Canada and Turkey to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of 1976. In addition, the Third Protocol to Amend the TAC, which would allow the accession of international organisations, whose members are sovereign states to the TAC, was also inked. The Protocol would facilitate the accession of the EU/EC to the TAC.