Melbourne, 11 February 2022 (TDI): Representatives of Quad met in Melbourne, Australia to deliberate upon deepening the alliance. These include diplomats of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.

The agenda of the meeting was to strengthen collaboration to keep a check on China’s growing power across the Asia-Pacific region. The participants were Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Moreover, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Indian Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar also attended the meeting. The Australian Foreign Minister took to Twitter to share the news.

Joint Statement of the four Foreign Ministers

Subsequent to the fourth Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting a joint statement of the four Foreign Ministers was issued by the Australian Foreign Ministry. It is annotated in the statement that the Quad Foreign Ministers reaffirm to support the efforts of the Indo-Pacific countries to advance an open and free Indo-Pacific region.

On Indo-Pacific Region

As per the statement, Indo-Pacific is an inclusive and resilient region and the regional states are averse to coercion and aim to safeguard their interests. The meeting is significant in the sense that it safeguards the positive and ambitious agenda of Quad.

Quad is focused on working with Indo-Pacific countries to address the region’s most critical challenges. By collaborating in this regard, the Quad will be are more efficacious in delivering valuable support to the region.

On ASEAN Region

In addition, the official statement pointed out that the Quad is a persistent supporter of unity and centrality in the ASEAN region. Likewise, it supports the ASEAN-led architecture to advance the practical implementation of ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

The Outlook’s tenets are essential for regional stability as well as prosperity as they will be critical in guiding the region’s political and economic future. The Quad acknowledged the significance of sub-regional institutions and mechanisms, including the Mekong sub-region. What’s more, the four countries of Quad will continue to support Cambodia in its role as 2022 ASEAN Chair.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Touching upon the subject of the Covid-19 pandemic the statement highlighted that as the world enters the third year of the pandemic, the Quad partners have collectively delivered approximately 500 million vaccine doses.

Together, India, Australia, Japan, and the US have pledged to donate more than 1.3 billion vaccine doses globally. The Quad Vaccine Partnership is instrumental in this regard. Its progress in vaccine production at the Biological E Ltd facility in India aims to deliver at least 1 billion vaccines by the end of 2022.

Quad-supported Vaccines

In this context, the Quad looks forward to the deliver the first batch of Quad-supported vaccines in the first half of 2022. Quad partners are collaborating to combat vaccine hesitancy, train healthcare workers, and augment infrastructure, particularly cold chain systems, for ‘last mile’ vaccine delivery.

Furthermore, efforts are being made to identify as well as address vaccine gaps and obstacles worsened by gender, disability, and social inequities, along with ensuring safe, affordable, effective, and quality-assured vaccination coverage in hard-to-reach locations.

Also, the Quad welcomes the timely initiative to coordinate the response to combat the pandemic under a Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response

Aside from that, the Quad Foreign Ministers discussed regional challenges, including maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR), counter-terrorism along countering disinformation and cyber security.

The Quad aims to strengthen HADR cooperation in the region. Quad partners have continued to respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters in the Indo-Pacific, ever since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Recent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have accentuated the necessity to create and maintain resilience against such events. The Quad is also supporting its Tongan partners following the January 2022 volcano eruption and tsunami.

On Maritime Security

The Quad acknowledged that international law, security, and peace in the maritime arena underpins the growth and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. The importance of adherence to international law, especially as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is irrefutable to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order. These include the South and East China Seas as well.

The Quad states are resolute to increase engagement with regional countries through technical assistance and capacity-building so as to protect their ability to develop offshore resources and reinforce maritime domain awareness; consistent with UNCLOS.

Additionally, measures will be adopted to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight,  combat challenges, like unreported, illegal, and unregulated fishing along with promoting the safety and security of sea lines of communication.

US State Secretary’s Comments

Commenting on the Quad meetings, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State claimed that the Quad is an essential part of the vision for the Indo-Pacific. It reflects the priority of working with partners and allies in the region.

Indian Minister of External Affairs’ Statement

Indian Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar held various meetings to discuss relevant issues with the representatives of the other member states. Whilst there, he also met with Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

On International Situation

Lastly, the Quad representatives discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine, rising China, Myanmar situation as well as the situation in Afghanistan. Read the detailed response of Quad on the aforementioned global issues here. The next Quad meeting will be hosted in Japan. The Quad was established in 2007.

The latest meetings of the Quad in Melbourne strive to deepen collaboration across other fields including fighting Covid-19 along with coordinating on critical information technology issues like the global rollout of 5G telecommunications networks.