Southeast Asian defense ministers have urged for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, calm in the South China Sea, and a resolution to Myanmar’s ongoing civil war. The ministers gathered for a regional security meeting in Jakarta, along with key dialogue partners, as international crises and flashpoints continue to rage from Gaza to Ukraine to the South China Sea.
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 17th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting, expressed his government’s concern for the conflict in the Middle East. He emphasized the urgent need for Israel’s attacks on civilians to stop and for the immediate setup of humanitarian corridors.
Indonesia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, has a strong history of support for the Palestinian cause. President Joko Widodo has called for an immediate ceasefire and emphasized the need to resolve the root cause of the conflict in Gaza. At the meeting, Prabowo also urged his counterparts to push for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in Myanmar.
In a joint declaration, the defense ministers reiterated the importance of respecting international maritime rules in the South China Sea and stressed the need for all parties to exercise self-restraint. They also reemphasized the commitment to negotiate the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and addressed the ongoing civil war in Myanmar.
The defense chiefs called for all parties concerned to cease all violence in Myanmar and fully implement the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus peace plan. However, ASEAN’s approach to Myanmar has been restrained by its consensus-based decision-making model and its conservative interpretation of “non-interference.”
Resistance forces making territorial gains in Myanmar may force a change in ASEAN’s approach to the country’s situation.