Quad leaders commit themselves to strengthening cooperation on the defining challenges of the times
New Delhi, March 12, 2021
Leaders of the Quad -- Australia, India, Japan and the United States -- on Friday committed themselves to strengthening their cooperation on the defining challenges of the times and to promoting a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law, to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
At the first-ever leader-level summit of the Quad, held in virtual mode, US President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Scott Morrison of Australia reaffirmed their commitment to quadrilateral cooperation among their countries.
The meeting decided that, at the leader level, they would hold an in-person summit by the end of 2021. Their experts and senior officials will continue to meet regularly and their Foreign Ministers will converse often and meet at least once a year.
"The ambition of these engagements is fit to the moment; we are committed to leveraging our partnership to help the world’s most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek," a joint statement issued by the leaders after the summit said.
"We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. We strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.
"We recall that our joint efforts toward this positive vision arose out of an international tragedy, the tsunami of 2004. Today, the global devastation wrought by COVID-19, the threat of climate change, and security challenges facing the region summon us with renewed purpose. On this historic occasion of March 12, 2021, the first-ever leader-level summit of the Quad, we pledge to strengthen our cooperation on the defining challenges of our time," the statement said.
"Together, we commit to promoting a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We support the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, democratic values, and territorial integrity. We commit to work together and with a range of partners.
"We reaffirm our strong support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Full of potential, the Quad looks forward to the future; it seeks to uphold peace and prosperity and strengthen democratic resilience, based on universal values," the statement said.
The leaders said their common goals required them to reckon with the most urgent of global challenges.
"Today, we pledge to respond to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, combat climate change, and address shared challenges, including in cyber space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, and humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief as well as maritime domains," they said.
The statement said that, building on the progress their countries had achieved on health security, they would join forces to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access, to speed economic recovery and benefit global health.
"With steadfast commitment to the health and safety of our own people, we also recognize that none of us can be safe as long as the pandemic continues to spread. We will, therefore, collaborate to strengthen equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, with close coordination with multilateral organizations including the World Health Organization and COVAX. We call for transparent and results-oriented reform at the World Health Organization.
"We are united in recognizing that climate change is a global priority and will work to strengthen the climate actions of all nations, including to keep a Paris-aligned temperature limit within reach. We look forward to a successful COP 26 in Glasgow.
"We will begin cooperation on the critical technologies of the future to ensure that innovation is consistent with a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.
"We will continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.
"We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees.
"As long-standing supporters of Myanmar and its people, we emphasize the urgent need to restore democracy and the priority of strengthening democratic resilience," the statement said.
The leaders said that, to advance these goals and others, they would redouble their commitment to Quad engagement.
"We will combine our nations’ medical, scientific, financing, manufacturing and delivery, and development capabilities and establish a vaccine expert working group to implement our path-breaking commitment to safe and effective vaccine distribution; we will launch a critical- and emerging-technology working group to facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative technologies of the future; and we will establish a climate working group to strengthen climate actions globally on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, technology, capacity-building, and climate finance," the statement added.