JAKARTA: ASEAN defence ministers have urged for a swift finalisation of the comprehensive code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, in accordance with international laws, including UNCLOS.

The ministers emphasised the significance of full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties and commended confidence-building measures such as the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, Guidelines for Air Military Encounters, as well as ASEAN Direct Communications Infrastructure.

“These measures aim to enhance communication, mutual trust, and reduce tensions and incidents at air and sea,” they noted in the Jakarta Joint Declaration released after the 17th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (17th ADMM) here Wednesday.

The ministers highlighted the utmost importance of preserving regional peace, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as well as the need for self-restraint in activities that could escalate conflicts.

Acknowledging ongoing ASEAN initiatives and the leaders’ agreement on the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) in Myanmar, they emphasized the necessity for concrete indicators to facilitate its implementation, urging all parties involved to stop violence and exercise utmost restraint.

They acknowledged the potential threats to regional stability and peace amid the complex nature of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including the global economic slowdown and geopolitical shifts.

There is also a need for collective efforts to address these challenges, considering the evolving geopolitical landscape and the impact of major power rivalries on regional security and prosperity, the minister added.

The meeting chaired by Indonesia also adopted a number of key deliverables, including the ADMM Work Programme 2023-2026, Concept Paper on the Implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) from a Defence Perspective, Concept Paper on Harmonising ADMM and ADMM-Plus Initiatives.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan is leading the Malaysian delegation to the two-day 17th ADMM and 10th ADMM-Plus meetings, alongside the Ministry’s Secretary-General Datuk Seri Isham Ishak, Deputy Secretary-General (Policy) Mohamad Yani Daud, and other ministry officials. - Bernama

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