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ASEAN Regional Forum
Workshop on Managing the Consequences of a Major Terrorist Attack

Darwin, 3-5 June 2003

Co-Chair's Summary Report


At the invitation of Singapore and Australia, representatives of many of the participant countries of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) met in Darwin from 3 to 5 June 2003 to share perspectives on strengthening cooperation among ARF countries on managing the consequences of a major terrorist attack, including a terrorist attack involving the deployment of chemical, biological or radiological weapons.

Participants recalled that the threat of terrorism had been the primary focus of the 9th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan on 31 July 2002, and that Ministers had agreed that managing the consequences of a terrorist attack was a possible area for future ARF activity/work.

Participants welcomed the Darwin meeting as a further demonstration of the ARF's determination to enhance cooperation, and to make collective efforts more effective in combating terrorism and in managing the consequences of any future terrorist attacks. Participants expressed their gratitude to the speakers at the Workshop for their presentations, which contributed to successful outcomes of the Workshop. The agenda for the Workshop, and the list of participants at the Workshop, are attached at Annex 1 and Annex 2, respectively.

Participants agreed that terrorism poses a serious threat to regional and international security and peace, as well as to the social and economic development of individual nations. Participants agreed that regional and international counter-terrorist efforts can add value to national capacities of ARF participants in managing the consequences of a major terrorist attack. Participants acknowledged that each individual state has different capabilities to manage the consequences of a major terrorist attack.

Having regard to these considerations, the workshop focussed on practical measures to prepare for, respond to and recover from a major terrorist attack, including dealing with the effects of a terrorist attack which deployed chemical, biological or radiological agents or devices.

Participants examined the lessons learned from the Bali terrorist attack on 12 October 2002, and the consequences of other recent terrorist attacks in the region. In their discussions on dealing with the consequences of a major terrorist attack, and the distinct requirements of such an attack, participants shared their expertise on management of: structural collapse; urban search and rescue; treatment of the disaster site as a crime scene, including preservation of forensic evidence; the special challenges arising from the deployment of chemical, biological or radiological agents or devices; and the medical capability for handling mass casualties.

To obtain a greater understanding of some of the issues and principles raised during the Workshop, participants engaged in an interactive desktop exercise dealing with the consequences of a hypothetical terrorist attack in which chemical weapons and radiological dispersement devices had been deployed in densely populated areas. Participants discussed strategies and policies required to facilitate effective and rapid coordination of responses to a major terrorist attack, and discussed the scope for further cooperation between ARF participants on managing the immediate and longer term consequences of a future terrorist attack.

Participants recognised that there may be situations where national capabilities may be insufficient to deal with both the immediate response, as well as the longer term recovery. They noted that such assistance, where required, could be sought from global organisations including United Nations agencies, from bilateral donor partners and from non-government organisations. But participants recognised that, to be fully effective, international assistance would need to be requested as soon as possible, clearly specified, and coordinated carefully.  They also noted that special arrangements would be required to handle in-kind contributions such as food, clothing and medicine to ensure the most effective utilization of these supplies.

Workshop participants concluded that timely exchange of information and further cooperation between relevant agencies of ARF participant countries are essential tools to manage the consequences of a major terrorist attack. In that context, workshop participants noted the existing bilateral and multilateral agreements on cooperation in the ARF region, and acknowledged the important role these agreements would play to facilitate cooperation between the contracting parties in the event that international cooperation was required in managing the consequences of a major terrorist attack involving any of the contracting parties.

Participants recognised the importance of developing coordinated plans for efficient and rapid response to terrorist attacks. They acknowledged that these plans should take into account the roles of regional and national authorities, and include capabilities available in both civilian and military agencies to avoid duplication of effort. They encouraged countries that may require international support to factor this aspect into their national planning, to ensure ready response, and to preclude legal and technical difficulties in requesting and receiving outside support. They noted the views of presenters that planning for consequence management should ideally include regular testing of national plans in robust and realistic exercises.

Participants reiterated the unique management aspects of responding to Chemical/Biological/Radiological threats, and the importance of developing plans, procedures, equipment and training to enable an effective response to such threats. They recognised the importance of information exchange and liaison between teams dealing with the immediate incident or disaster, and the subsequent consequence management teams.  They noted the important role of scientific advice in the planning, capability development, and response phases of CBR incidents. Participants also noted the need for an agent detection and identification capability; treatment and decontamination of potentially large numbers of casualties, including hospitalisation and surge capacity; search and rescue in a contaminated and highly populated environment; ensuring the safety of first responders; and the need for an open and coordinated flow of information in multi-agency responses.

Participants agreed to look for opportunities to build on the dialogues established at the workshop and to identify possibilities for future cooperation in capability development and training, through provision of technical assistance; information exchange; regional exercises and the development of common procedures. Participants noted that the relationships and understanding between officials which grew from joint exercises, training, and in some cases operations, were invaluable to enable quick and appropriate response to an attack, and they welcomed the opportunities created by informal consultative mechanisms to continue to strengthen regional cooperation.

Participants recommended several strategies and best-practice approaches in which ARF members could cooperate at a practical level, outlined in the Recommendations to Build on Outcomes from the Workshop (Annex 3)

Participants agreed that the outcomes of the workshop be presented to the ARF Ministerial Meeting to be held in Phnom Penh on 18 June 2003.

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