1. Outlook for Regional Security
1. The security situation in the Asia-Pacific region in the next year will continue to be a mixed picture of challenges and cooperation. On the hand, significant regional security issues remain to be resolved. Of immediate concern is the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in South Asia. Although there had been encouraging signs in the inter-Korean dialogue, the naval clash in June 2002 between North and South Korea threatened the prospect for the resumption of such dialogue and the peace process on the Peninsula as a whole. Continue tension in South Asia poses- a significant security challenge
.and is a cause of grave concern.
2. Terrorism and other transnational crimes such as drug and human trafficking will still pose a serious security challenge to the region. As crime syndicates continue to operate across borders, countries in the Asia- Pacific will need to intensify their cooperation to combat transnational crime in all its aspects. This does not only mean strengthening of law enforcement efforts but involves implementation of appropriate political, economic and social measures as well.
3. On the other hand, countries in the Asia-Pacific will continue to engage in a dialogue in addressing security problems of the region. It is interesting to note that parties concerned are continuing their efforts aimed at resolving pending issues in the region. ASEAN and China are working towards the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in order the help ensure stability in the area. In the past year, there were significant positive political developments in Myanmar and East Timor. The common threat of terrorism has brought about cooperation among the major powers which has created a stabilizing effect on the security situation of region. The ARF will continue to serve as a major multilateral forum that could help enhance political and security cooperation in the region through promotion of confidence building measures.
II. Major Security Concerns
4. Thailand continues to attach high priority to strengthen friendly relations with neighbouring countries, in particular those sharing borders with Thailand. At bilateral level, Thailand seeks to promote cooperation in every field through exchange of visits at all levels and people-to-people contacts. Joint Commission established between Thailand and a number of its neighbouring countries continue to serve as key mechanisms that have helped strengthen and further expand bilateral ties. Thailand will continue its efforts in demarcating land and maritime boundaries with its immediate neighbours.
5. Terrorism poses a serious threat to individual nations and to the region as a whole. Thailand in committed to cooperate with the nations and to the region as a whole. Thailand in committed to cooperate with the international community to combat terrorism. Since the incident of September 11, the Thai Government has taken several significant steps to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). These include:
tightening of security measures at ports of entry;
enforcement of more stringent border control measures including reviewing the list of countries whose nationals may enter and stay in Thailand up to 30 days without visa;
strengthening cooperation in information and intelligence exchange with Member States of the UN;
signing of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism on 18 December 2001 and accelerating Thailand's accession to the remaining seven UN Conventions relating to terrorism; and
amending domestic laws, i.e. the Penal Code and the Anti money Laundering Act, to make terrorist acts and related activities serious offences and empower the Anti- Money Laundering Office to be able to take swift actions in freezing funds and financial assets belonging to suspects of terrorism.
6. At regional level, Thailand has strengthened its counter-terrorism cooperation within the framework of ASEAN in accordance with the ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism of November 2001. At their Retreat in February 2002 in Phuket, ASEAN Foreign Ministers stressed to importance of closer cooperation among the member countries and the need to ensure that the region remained a safe place.
7. After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the ASEAN Ministers on Transnational Crime agreed to intensify their efforts in combating terrorism and other transnational crime. They commissioned the drafting of a Work Programme to Implement the 1999 ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, covering sight priority areas of transnational crime including terrorism. The terrorism component of the Work Programme was endorsed in May 2002. According to the Work Programme, ASEAN members will strengthen exchange of information by compiling domestic legislation and establishing database. They will enhance legal and law enforcement cooperation and will work toward institutional capacity building.
8. Cooperation to combat terrorism in the wider Asia-Pacific region could be carried out within the framework of ARF. The two counter-terrorism workshops of the ARF that were organized in Honolulu and Bangkok in March and April 2002 respectively are useful in allowing for ARF participants to exchange views and experience in their efforts to deal with terrorism. As for the next step, the ARF should identify practical measures that the ARF participants could undertake by building on the recommendations of the two previous workshops. Counter-terrorism cooperation within the ARF should complement the global efforts led by the UN. In this regard, the ARF might consider how it could support its participants to fully implement relevant UN resolutions.
Other transnational crimes
9. The situation of drug abuse and trafficking remains a serious problem for Thailand. Illicit drugs continue to be imported into the country both for domestic drug market and for transit to other countries. The current Government has declared war on drugs and has mobilized national efforts and resources to find short-and long-term solutions to the problem. As far as the control of illicit drugs in concerned, emphasis will be given to strict control of chemicals and precursors used for producing drugs. Suppression and interception of drugs coming from outside the country will systematically carried out with the focus on major traffickers.
10. International cooperation is extremely important for an effective control and suppression of narcotic drugs. Thai authorities concerned work closely with 21 countries and 2 international organizations in intercepting drug smuggling through their drug liaison officers stationed in Thailand. At the same time, Thailand will continue to strengthen its anti-drug cooperation with neighbouring countries both bilaterally and within the various sub-regional frameworks.
11. Under the 1993 MOU on Drug Control among Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Viet Nam and the UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the signatory states undertake joint activities in the areas of demand reduction, supply reduction and law enforcement including suppressing drug trade along their common borders. Thailand has also initiated a quadrilateral cooperation among the countries in the Golden Triangle comprising China. Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Pursuant to the Ministerial Meetings in August and November 2001, the four countries have now identified areas of cooperation and activities that they would undertake jointly. These include joint efforts in the control of chemicals and precursors used in manufacturing drugs, narcotic crop substitution, law enforcement cooperation and training.
12. Within the framework of ASEAN, Thailand continues to attach importance to the ACCORD Plan of Action ( ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs) and the projects relating to drug trafficking contained in the Work Programme to Implement the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime. In September 2002, Thailand will organize a field trip for ASEAN Directors-General and the Heads of Focal Points on Drug Matters of ASEAN countries and China to observe some major drug control projects which being out as part of Thailand's efforts to realize the objectives of ASEAN Drug Awareness Years 2002-2003 and the target of Drug- Free ASEAN in 2015.
13. Human trafficking is linked to the problem of illegal migration, which has its root cause in poverty. The different levels of economic development among countries to seek a better living countries that are more advanced economically. The problem of human trafficking is growing in scale and complexity and creating significant economic, social, political and security challenges to the region. The effectively solve this problem, the root cause must also be addressed and attempts be made to promote sustainable development in the less developed countries of the region.
14. Thailand has made efforts to combat human trafficking on many fronts. It is among the 124 countries that signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. It has signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Woman and Children and is now working toward the signing of the Protocol against Illegal Trafficking and Transport of Migrants.
15. In Southeast Asia, Thailand is coordinating with its partners in the region to address the problem of migration. At the Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes held in Bali in February 2002, Thailand was entrusted to serve as coordinator for the Working Group on Policy, Law Enforcement and Legislative Issues. It is working toward forging cooperative endeavours- in law enforcement through networking and capacity building.
16. Thailand has also acted as a link drawing countries in the Mekong sub-region to work together in tackling this problem. Concerned authorities of countries in the sub-region meet very often in different for a discuss the issue as well s to compare their respective laws, share best practices in dealing with human trafficking, and explore ways for further cooperation. Many international organizations such as CIDA, UNICEF, UNDP, ILO and 10M have rendered support to the efforts of these countries by helping to build their capacity so that they can deal with the problem more effectively.
17. Within ASEAN, human trafficking constitutes one of the sight priority areas of the Work Programme to Implement the 1999 ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime. The Work Programme involves compiling and exchanging information on relevant domestic laws with a view to establishing a database; facilitating networking among authorities concerned and enhancing their linkages with ASEANPOL; cooperating in legal and law enforcement matters; and developing regional training programmes.
III. Defence and Security Policies
18. The Ministry of Defence of Thailand is formulating a National Defence Strategy in accordance with the National Security Policy for the period 2002-2006 and the changing security environment. The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 have far-reaching impacts on all security- related agencies including the Ministry of Defence. The National Defence Strategy will set out the roles for the Ministry of Defence in other areas apart from its traditional responsibility in the preparatjon and use of force. Importance will be given to the roles of the Ministry of Defence in promoting national development and carrying out other operations including support for UN peace operations, humanitarian operations, defence diplomacy and development of cross-border areas. When the National Defence Strategy is finalized, Thailand hopes to issues a new edition of its defence white paper that will reflect the main thrust of the National Defence Strategy.
19. One role being enhanced by the Royal Thai Armed Forces is to support peace operation sanctioned by the UN. Thailand has sent its troops to UN peacekeeping operations in various parts of the world including in the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, and Sierra Leone. In East Timor, Thailand actively participated in both the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) and the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), with two Thai generals serving as commanders of UNTAET. After the independence of East Timor on 20 May 2002, about C1 company strength of Thai soldiers remain in East Timor together with a Thai Military advisers who are to assist East Timor in its efforts to establish it own Armed Forces in UN operations in East Timor has served to create good ties between the countries. During their recent visit to Thailand, East Timor's military leaders visited several military units and observed some royal developments projects. Thailand responding positively to East Timor's interest in sending local leaders to observe and receive training in the area of local administration in Thailand.
20. Thailand continues to strengthen its military ties with countries in the region. It region. It regularly conducts bilateral military exercises with such countries as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the United States, On 14-28 May 2002, Thailand and United States held the annual Cobra old Military Exercise in eastern Thailand. With the participation of Singapore since 2000 Cobra Gold became a multilateral exercise. A total of 20,970 soldiers took part in Cobra Gold 02 which was attended by 76 military observers from 18 countries, 13 of which are ARF participants. This year's exercise focused on military operations other than war including non-combatant evacuation and disaster relief. It has served to enhance combat readiness and joint operations of Thailand, the U.S. and Singapore.
IV. Domestic Developments
21. The Thai Government attaches great importance to forging cooperation among countries in the region. In this regard, Thailand initiated the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) as an evolving and non-institutionalized forum for policy-makers to exchange views on how to strengthen Asia. The inaugural Ministerial Meeting was convened on 18-19 June 2002 in Cha-am. It is envisaged that the ACD process will help raise the comfort level and enhance confidence building among countries in the region.