Foreign Policy Blogs

Central Asia: Cooperating is Cool!

ar120773931560183.gifToday, I want to go over recent cooperative measures and conferences in our beloved Central Asian region. With Obama soon to be in the White House and multilateralism all the rage, I thought it was about time. In all seriousness, these cooperative efforts regarding such important transnational issues as terrorism, trade, drug trades, and disease control can bring concrete gains for the region's states and citizens.

TerrorismThe Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) brought together international, regional, and local public and private representatives in Bishkek to “explore the forms and methods of partnerships, the role of the banking sector and NGOs in the struggle against terrorism, the role of religious organizations, educational awareness raising, and the role of media in combating extremism.” The conference was hosted by the Western-based OSCE, but involved the UN, CIS, CSTO, and the SCO. I wonder how the latter's representatives felt about this comment from OSCE ambassador Andrew Tesoriere; “Human rights and rule of law are central to counter-terrorism strategy. To undermine them is to play into hands of the terrorists. A successful counter-terrorist strategy supports dialogue, diversity and tolerance within society. It does not block them.” This conference, which occurred in early November, obviously has taken on greater significance since the Mumbai massacre last week.

Border Management & Drug ControlThe government of Tajikistan co-hosted with the EU this conference for participating Central Asian states and international delegations to present their priorities in regards to border patrol and the narcotics trade. The Conference concluded with the official delegations’ agreement to a Partnership Declaration, which emphasized 'the importance of strengthening cross-border co-operation and developing and implementing national border management and national drug control strategies.’ Rather broad, but I hope some pragmatic progress was achieved as well.

Disease ControlThis article highlights the work of NGO's, particularly Management Sciences for Health, efforts to curb the spread of infectious diseases within Afghanistan and across its borders into Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. The piece discusses the work of NGO's to help coordinate the aforementioned government's ability to stop such contagious diseases, such as HIV, tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, polio, and the avian influenza.

I’ll end this post with a quote from Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about his hopes for greater cooperation between South and Central Asia;

“It is our firm belief that increased economic, political and human interaction will further the geo-economic potential of South Asia and Central Asia. Challenges are enormous but so are the opportunities, let us focus on the latter.”

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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