ASTANA — The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Senior Officials Committee (SOC) convened for its final meeting of 2023 in Astana on Dec. 12, as reported by CICA’s press service.
High-level representatives from the CICA member states, under Kazakhstan’s chairmanship and the CICA Secretariat, gathered to assess the year’s accomplishments and discuss the organization’s plans.
Chaired by Alibek Bakayev, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, the SOC meeting provided a platform for a comprehensive review of CICA’s achievements in 2023.
Bakayev outlined CICA’s current activities, emphasizing the implementation of the CICA transformation roadmap, a pivotal framework endorsed by the CICA Ministerial Council in September 2023. The chairperson’s presentation also shed light on the outlook for 2024, setting the stage for discussions on the organization’s trajectory.
During the meeting, CICA Secretary General Kairat Sarybay presented an annual report on the CICA Secretariat’s activities throughout 2023. The report covered a broad spectrum of areas, detailing the secretariat’s efforts and achievements over the past year while outlining ambitious work plans for 2024.
A significant focus of the SOC meeting was the approval of key planning documents for 2024. The SOC adopted the 2024 plan for implementing confidence-building measures and the 2024 budget of the CICA Secretariat, which are crucial elements in shaping the forum’s annual agenda.
In a noteworthy development, the SOC approved two concept papers in CICA priority areas such as environment protection and natural disaster management. Mongolia and Iran prepared these papers, highlighting the collaborative and cooperative nature of CICA’s initiatives.
The meeting also welcomed a proposal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join CICA as an observer state. The SOC expressed overwhelming support for Saudi Arabia’s application, recommending it to the CICA Ministerial Council for approval. This potential expansion underscores CICA’s role as a pan-Asian organization dedicated to fostering dialogue and cooperation.
Another highlight was the acknowledgment of the breakthrough in ratifying the CICA Convention on Privileges and Immunities by Bangladesh. This development was celebrated as a significant step toward reinforcing the legal framework underpinning CICA’s operations.
The SOC also discussed forging closer ties with other international organizations, including potential collaboration with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.