ASEAN, Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Sunday, 22 January 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Editorial, EU blog post series, European Union
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Flag_of_ASEAN ASEAN, officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration between its members and countries in the Asia-Pacific. The union has a total area of 4,522,518 km² (1,746,154 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 668 million.

ASEAN’s primary objective was to accelerate economic growth and through that social progress and cultural development. A secondary objective was to promote regional peace and stability based on the rule of law and the principles of the UN Charter. With some of the fastest growing economies in the world, ASEAN has broadened its objective beyond the economic and social spheres. In 2003, ASEAN moved along the path similar to the European Union (EU) by agreeing to establish an ASEAN community that consists of three pillars: the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. The ten stalks of rice in the ASEAN flag and insignia represents the ten Southeast Asian countries bound together in solidarity.

ASEAN regularly engages other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. A major partner of UN, SCO, PA, GCC, MERCOSUR, CELAC, and ECO, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as a global powerhouse, the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific, and a prominent and influential organization. It is involved in numerous international affairs, and hosts diplomatic missions throughout the world. The organization’s success has become the driving force of some of the largest trade blocs in history, including APEC and RCEP.

ASEAN was preceded by an organisation formed on 31 July 1961 called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), a group consisting of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya. ASEAN itself was created on 8 August 1967, when the foreign ministers of five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration. As set out in the Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region, to promote regional peace, collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest, to provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities, to collaborate for better utilization of agriculture and industry to raise the living standards of the people, to promote Southeast Asian studies and to maintain close, beneficial co-operation with existing international organisations with similar aims and purposes. The creation of ASEAN was initially motivated by the desire to contain communism. Communism had taken a foothold in mainland Asia with the Soviet Union occupation of the northern Korean peninsula after World War II, establishing communist governments in North Korea (1945), People’s Republic of China (1949) and portions of former French Indochina with North Vietnam (1954), accompanied by the communist insurgency “Emergency” in British Malaya and unrest in the recently independent Philippines from the U S. in the early 1950s. These events also encouraged the earlier formation of SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) led by the United States and United Kingdom along with Australia with several Southeast Asian partners in 1954 as a “containment” extension and an eastern version of the early defensive bulwark NATO in western Europe of 1949. However, the local member states of ASEAN group achieved greater cohesion in the mid-1970s following a change in the balance of power after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975 and the decline of SEATO. ASEAN’s first summit meeting, held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976, resulted in an agreement on several industrial projects and the signing of a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and a Declaration of Concord. The end of the Cold War allowed ASEAN countries to exercise greater political independence in the region, and in the 1990s, ASEAN emerged as a leading voice on regional trade and security issues. On 15 December 1995, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty was signed to turn Southeast Asia into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty took effect on 28 March 1997 after all but one of the member states had ratified it. It became fully effective on 21 June 2001 after the Philippines ratified it, effectively banning all nuclear weapons in the region.

On 7 January 1984, Brunei became ASEAN’s sixth member and on 28 July 1995, following the end of the Cold War, Vietnam joined as the seventh member. Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma) joined two years later on 23 July 1997. Cambodia was to join at the same time as Laos and Myanmar, but a coup in 1997 and other internal instability delayed its entry. It then joined on 30 April 1999 following the stabilization of its government. In 2006, ASEAN was given observer status at the United Nations General Assembly. In response, the organisation awarded the status of “dialogue partner” to the UN.

In view of the developments in the region, triggered in particular in and by China, the EU is stepping up its efforts to significantly strengthen and expand relations with the ASEAN countries, together with the USA, in order to create a counterweight to the negative influences from China and Russia. The efforts can still be significantly expanded, but are already showing the first positive results.

Read more on ASEAN, DW, 10 February 2023: Survey: EU’s influence surging in Southeast Asia and Wikipedia ASEAN (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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