On the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Foreign Ministers from the Quad nations – India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. – convened to discuss various important issues.
Reaffirming Commitment to a “Free and Open” Indo-Pacific
The Quad ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region, emphasizing the resolution of disputes in accordance with international law. They also pledged allegiance to the principles outlined in the UN charter and voiced support for UN reform.
During the meeting, the Quad ministers discussed the findings of the Quad Counterterrorism Working Group’s Consequence Management Exercise, which focused on how the Quad could assist countries in the region that have faced terror attacks. Plans for a future tabletop exercise in Hawaii were also on the agenda. The ministers emphasized their dedication to countering terrorism in all its forms, including addressing terror financing, cross-border movement of terrorists, and the misuse of emerging technologies for terror activities.
Concerns Over Ukraine Conflict
The Quad ministers expressed “deep concern” about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine without directly naming Russia as the aggressor. They called for a “just” and “lasting” peace in Ukraine, aligning with international law and the principles of the UN Charter.
Support for the Black Sea Grain Initiative
The Quad lent support to the UN’s efforts to restart the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), a crucial agreement for the export of grain from Ukraine and Russia. The previous agreement had expired in July, prompting calls for its resumption, including at the G-20 summit in New Delhi.
Push for Comprehensive UN Reform
The Quad nations stressed the need for comprehensive UN reform, including the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent representation on the UN Security Council. They also voiced concerns about attempts to undermine the international system, possibly alluding to Russia’s use of the veto in the Security Council concerning the Ukraine conflict.
References to China and Freedom of Navigation
In the joint statement, there were indirect references to China, particularly regarding the importance of respecting freedom of navigation and overflight as determined by UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). The statement also expressed opposition to changes in the status quo through coercion.
Condemnation of North Korea and Support for Myanmar Transition
The Quad nations condemned North Korea’s “destabilizing” missile launches and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Regarding Myanmar, they expressed support for a transition to an “inclusive federal democracy” and the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, an agreement reached in April 2021 between the Myanmar junta and the ASEAN group of countries.
Commitment to Practical Initiatives
The Quad ministers reiterated their commitment to practical initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Quad Infrastructure Fellowship Programme, pandemic preparedness exercises, and the development of a “trusted and secure” telecommunications network.