The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is a multilateral forum for dialogue bringing together Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Israel, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
The idea of creating the CICA was put forward by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1992 at the 47th United Nations General Assembly. The aim was to create a pan-Asian forum along the lines of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to discuss and resolve key regional problems and foster cooperation among the member countries.
A meeting of the foreign ministers of the CICA founder countries, which was also attended by observers (from the USA, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Australia and a number of other countries, and from international organisations, including the UN and the OSCE), adopted a declaration of principles regulating the relations between the CICA member states – the prototype legal base for creating an Asian system of security and cooperation.
The First CICA summit took place on June 4, 2002. The summit adopted a final document – the Almaty Act – and also the Declaration on Suppressing Terrorism and Facilitating Dialogue between Civilisations. The leaders of the member states approved a decision to draw up a catalogue of CICA confidence-building measures and proposed the creation of a permanent secretariat for the CICA with headquarters in Almaty.
At their meeting in 2004, the CICA foreign ministers approved the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures and adopted the CICA Rules of Procedure.
According to the Rules of Procedure, all questions related to the conference’s activities are decided at meetings that take place in the following formats: meetings of heads of state and/or government (summits) (held once every four years); meetings of foreign ministers (held once every two years); meetings of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) (held not less than once a year); meetings of the special working groups held on decision of the CSO to examine issues concerning different areas of the CICA’s activities.
The member state hosting the summit of heads of state and/or government holds the presidency of the CICA until the next summit. Kazakhstan currently holds the presidency.
The CICA’s working languages are English and Russian, and the language of its official documents is English.
The special working groups held meetings in 2005–2006 to draft an agreement (statute) on the CICA secretariat.
The special working group on developing confidence building measures in the economic, environmental and humanitarian spheres and also in combating new threats and challenges held its first meeting in 2005. This exchange of views resulted in a decision to summarise the ideas and proposals put forward about priority areas and forms of cooperation and set them out in a separate document under the title ‘Cooperative Approaches Towards Implementing the CICA Confidence-Building Measures’.
Russia’s position regarding the future development of the CICA (a view shared by most of the conference’s members) is that at this stage the conference should preserve its status of a unique forum for broad-based dialogue and not hasten with forced institutionalisation and transformation into a full-fledged international organisation.
In the view of most of its members, the forum’s main task at the current stage is to engage the CICA in practical implementation of the confidence-building measures in the military-political, economic, environmental and humanitarian spheres, as well as in combating new threats and challenges, approved in the Catalogue of Confidence Building Measures.
The conference’s participants have reacted positively to the idea of making use of the forum’s potential in realising the initiatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), put forward at the SCO summit in Tashkent in June 2004, on creating a network of partnerships among multilateral groupings in the Asia-Pacific Region.