- GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
QUAD 2022 Ministerial Meeting
Context: Foreign Ministers of Australia, India, Japan and US met in Melbourne, Australia on 11 February 2022, for the fourth Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
What were the key takeaways from the meeting?
- Vaccine Diplomacy: Quad partners have collectively provided more than 500 million vaccine doses. The grouping plans to deliver more than a billion vaccine doses — India-made with U.S. funding and distributed through Japanese and Australian networks — and donate another 1.3 billion doses around the world
- Climate Cooperation: The group agreed to prepare for an Indo-Pacific Clean Energy Supply Chain Forum to tackle climate change
- Centrality of ASEAN: As unwavering supporters of ASEAN unity and centrality, and the ASEAN-led architecture, QUAD continues to support ASEAN partners to advance the practical implementation of ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
- Strengthening HADR cooperation: Since 2004, when QUAD collaborated in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, the grouping has continued to respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters in the Indo-Pacific. The group further committed to building links between their response agencies to provide timely and effective HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) support to the region.
- Maritime Security in Indo-Pacific region: The grouping reiterated that it is determined to deepen engagement with regional partners, including through capacity-building and technical assistance, to
- strengthen maritime domain awareness;
- protect their ability to develop offshore resources,
- consistent with UNCLOS;
- ensure freedom of navigation and overflight;
- combat challenges, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and
- promote the safety and security of sea lines of communication.
- Cooperation on anti-Terrorism: The Quad is exchanging information to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism. India was also able to insert a reference to fighting “cross-border” terrorism, and condemnation of the 26/11 attack and Pathankot attacks.
- Afghanistan: The grouping reaffirmed UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country.
- Technology: The group also pledged to further a “Quad vision” for technology governances and safe and transparent 5G systems.
Positives of the meeting
- It shows a growing level of comfort with the principles behind the grouping of democratic countries, to support regional countries’ efforts to advance a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. It also set the stage for Summit level meeting to be held later this year at Tokyo.
- That Quad members have thus far avoided institutionalising their grouping, and that they have not “militarised” it
- Despite China’s sharp criticism of the grouping, Quad members chose not to name China directly as the joint statement spoke of ensuring a rules-based order and respect for sovereignty and building a region “free from coercion”.
Is India losing its strategic autonomy by being a part of QUAD?
- While the grouping is strong on all these precepts, there are obvious differences in the practice of their vision for the Indo-Pacific region and the world in general.
- India’s strong tone on China’s amassing of troops at India’s border was also a subtle reminder to Quad partners that while they may have similar concerns and share many core values, they do not have an identical world view.
- The situation in Myanmar was mentioned, but India’s External Affairs Minister made it clear that while India supports a restoration of democracy, it does not support western “national” sanctions.
- The meeting took place in the shadow of the growing Russia-NATO tensions over Ukraine, but it seemed evident that India did not share USA’s assessment of an imminent “invasion” (by Russia into Ukraine).
- Indian chose not to join the decision by the U.S., Japan and Australia to tell their citizens to evacuate immediately from Ukraine; nor was any mention of the situation allowed into the joint statement.
Quad remains very much a grouping that is “for something, not against somebody”.
Connecting the dots: