Explained: How the Quad has played big brother in times of crisis

The leaders of the United States, India, Japan and Australia, under the Quad initiative, have joined forces to maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region. From donating vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic to setting up an urgent mechanism for the Ukraine crisis, the Quad has stepped up in time

Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese, US president Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi are greeted by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, during their arrival to the Quad summit at Kantei Palace in Tokyo. AP

The Quad summit, formally the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, has come a long way since its formation in 2017 — always playing the role of crisis manager in an effective way.

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India are meeting in Tokyo for their second in-person summit, after the last one in Washington in September 2021, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitched for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that despite difficult circumstances triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the member countries have increased mutual coordination in several areas like vaccine delivery, climate action, supply change resilience, disaster management and economic cooperation. “It has ensured peace, prosperity and stability in Indo-Pacific,” he added.

As Narendra Modi, Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida and Anthony Albanese meet for this crucial summit, here’s a timeline that captures how the Quad has been a force of good and lend a helping hand in the times of crises.

What is Quad?

First things first: the Quad emerged as a loose partnership following the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The four countries — US, India, Japan and Australia joined hands to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance to the affected region.

It was formalised by then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, but fell dormant as Australia feared that such a collective would be an irritant for China.

In 2017, the group was revived as a counter to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its military interventions. As news agency PTI reports, both the Trump and Biden administrations saw the Quad as key to a pivot toward placing more focus on the Indo-Pacific region, particularly as a counterweight to China’s assertive actions.

The Quad leaders held their first formal summit in 2021 and met again virtually in March. It was in September 2021 that they held their first in-person summit in Washington where Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the collective a “force for global good”.

On Afghanistan

The Quad summit in Washington in September 2021 came on the heels of America withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Taliban overtaking the country.

Following their meet, the leaders of the Quad nations had said they will closely coordinate diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan.

The grouping in its statement said, “In South Asia, we will closely coordinate our diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan and will deepen our counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in the months ahead in accordance with UNSCR 2593.”

UN Security Council resolution 2593, passed under the presidency of India, demands Afghan soil shouldn’t be used in any way for terrorism and seeks an inclusive and negotiated settlement to the crisis in the war-torn country.

“We reaffirm that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts, and reiterate the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan,” the Quad joint statement said.

The Quad leaders also denounced the use of terrorist proxies and emphasised the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks.

“We stand together in support of Afghan nationals, and call on the Taliban to provide safe passage to any person wishing to leave Afghanistan, and to ensure that the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children, and minorities are respected,” read the joint statement.

COVID support

The Quad collective has played an effective role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The four countries have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, in addition to the vaccines financed through COVAX.

Besides the vaccines to countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, the four countries have also provided last-mile delivery assistance and monetary support to ensure that vaccines translate into vaccinations.

Moreover, under the Quad vaccine partnership, the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are providing finance to support the efforts of India’s Biological E to manufacture one billion doses of vaccines.

Responding to Ukraine crisis

Many believed that the Russian war in Ukraine, which has entered Day 90, would be a stumbling block for Quad, as India has maintained a stance of neutrality whereas the other three have sanctioned the Vladimir Putin-led country.

However, the Quad has kept its differences aside and agreed to establish a “new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism” which will “provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine”.

A joint statement read: “The Quad leaders agreed to stand up a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism which will enable the Quad to meet future humanitarian challenges in the Indo-Pacific and provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine.”

“We cannot allow what is happening in Ukraine now to ever happen in the Indo-Pacific. We are resolute in our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region where smaller states do not need to live in fear of more powerful ones,” the statement further added.

With inputs from agencies

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