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Quad leaders call for prosperity in Indo-Pacific maritime security, urge states to tackle ransomware operations

The Quad countries of India, Japan, Australia and the US reaffirmed their belief that international maritime law, peace and security support the development and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and vehemently oppose all unilateral actions aimed at status quo or increase tensions in the region.

Secretary of State S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian Penny Wong met here on Friday for the Quad Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the 77th high-level session of the UN General Assembly.

Ahead of their meeting, ministers signed the guidelines for operationalizing the Quad Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Partnership for the Indo-Pacific, announced by Quad leaders in May 2022. Quad also announced a statement on ransomware, calling on states to provide reasonable take steps to prevent ransomware operations originating from their territory.

In a joint speech from the Quad Ministerial Meeting, the nations “affirmed our belief that international law, peace and security in the maritime domain underpin the development and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. We strongly oppose any unilateral action aimed at changing the status quo or increasing tensions in the region. We also reaffirmed our unwavering support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality, the ASEAN-led regional architecture and the practical implementation of ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” it said.

At the meeting, ministers underlined the Quad’s unwavering support for the UN Charter, including its three pillars, and their steadfast commitment to strengthening and reforming the UN and the international system. “The Quad reaffirmed its support for a UN that will solve the resulting challenges of our time and protect our shared and interconnected resources. This includes the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” it said.

They said they are also committed to advancing a comprehensive UN reform agenda, including through expansion into permanent and non-permanent seats of the UN Security Council, so that the Council reflects current global realities and incorporates more geographically diverse perspectives. “We underlined the need to address efforts to unilaterally undermine the international and multilateral system, including in the UN,” it said.

Ministers signed guidelines to make operational the Quad Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Partnership for the Indo-Pacific, announced by Quad leaders in May 2022, and said they look forward to the table-top counter-terrorism exercise to be hosted by Australia later in 2022.

“We reiterated the Quad’s commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to improve their maritime security and domain awareness. We support ongoing efforts, in close consultation with regional partners, to advance the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness.

We will continue to use our collective expertise to support the region in responding to other challenges, such as education and disinformation, and to advance Quad leaders’ initiatives in health security, climate change, infrastructure, peaceful uses of space, critical and emerging technologies and cybersecurity,” it said. The ministers plan to meet in person in early 2023 for the next Quad Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi.

“The Quad’s vision is for a region where the rules-based international order is upheld and where the principles of liberty, rule of law, democratic values, peaceful dispute settlement, sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected,” the statement said. In his opening address, Jaishankar said the meeting was particularly timely as the world is going through a very difficult period, “the global impact of the conflict in Ukraine, we are seeing climate events and emergencies” on an unprecedented scale.

He said it is particularly important given the turbulent times that the Quad continues in the constructive agenda they have set for themselves and that the four nations work together in delivering the public goods. He added that the HADR partnership, which was discussed and finalized in Tokyo, is highly topical.

He said there are other initiatives in the works a little further in the pipeline, such as the STEM scholarship, and they are working on the economic framework and awareness of the maritime domain. He added that the meeting is also an opportunity for the four nations to discuss together how to strengthen the UN-led multilateral system.

In his opening address, Jaishankar said the meeting was particularly timely as the world is going through a very difficult period, claiming that the global impact of the conflict in Ukraine is experiencing climate events and emergencies on an unprecedented scale.

He said it is particularly important given the turbulent times that the Quad continues in the constructive agenda they have set for themselves and that the four nations work together in delivering the public goods.

He added that the HADR partnership, which was discussed and finalized in Tokyo, is “extremely topical”. Jaishankar said there are other initiatives in the works a little further in the pipeline, such as the STEM scholarship, and they are working on the economic framework and awareness of the maritime domain.

He said the meeting is also an opportunity for the four nations to discuss together how to strengthen the UN-led multilateral system. In his comments, Blinken said the meeting on the margins of the UNGA is proof that the Quad is strong and getting stronger, strengthening our multilateral cooperation.

He said the members of the group are well aware that the great challenges “we face, as well as the opportunities ahead of us, require us to work together more than ever.

“None of us alone can do what it takes to meet these challenges and seize these opportunities. And that’s an inspiration behind the Quad,” Blinken said, adding that this is the first time the Quad’s foreign ministers have met at the United Nations General Assembly. “So I hope this will become a regular part of these meetings,” he said.

He said the humanitarian aid and disaster response guidelines lay the groundwork for countries to work together and coordinate more, for example in response to climate disasters.

“We look forward to continuing to explore the many ways the Quad enables us to deepen our partnership. Our leaders set a very important agenda for us when they met. We follow up on a lot of that work,” he said.

Wong said Australia is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific inclusive and resilient and to a Quad that is a force for good and committed to bringing tangible benefits to the region and ensuring a region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous and in what sovereignty is respected, where countries are free to make their own choices.

“None of us in this room want to see a region where countries are unable to make those sovereign choices, where one country or one perspective dominates. We know that our region is being reformed, economically and strategically, the four nations will work together to better get through this period of change together,” Wong said.

Hayashi said the world today is witnessing direct attempts to unilaterally change the status quo. The free and open international order based on the rule of law is under threat. “So, it’s extremely important for us to show our firm commitment to the international community together,” Hayashi said.

In 2017 Japan, India, Australia and the United States. shaped the long-running proposal to create the “Quad” or Quadrilateral Coalition to counter China’s aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region.

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