Association of Southeast Asian
|Seat of Secretariat||Jakarta, Indonesia|
|-||Secretary General||Surin Pitsuwan|
1,723,684 sq mi
|-||2007 estimate||575.5 million|
|GDP (PPP)||2007 estimate|
|-||Total||US$ 3,431.2 billion (2007)|
|-||Per capita||US$ 5,962|
|GDP (nominal)||2007 estimate|
|-||Total||US$ 1,281.9 billion (2007)|
|-||Per capita||US$ 2,227|
|Time zone||(UTC+6½ to +9)|
|1||If considered as a single entity.|
|2||Selected key basic ASEAN indicators|
|3||Annual growth 1.6 percent|
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly referred to as ASEAN, pronounced /ˈɑːsiːɑːn/ AH-see-ahn in English (the official language of the bloc), is a political and economic membership organization of 10 countries in Southeast Asia, originally formed on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Its aims include the acceleration of economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members, and the promotion of regional peace.
In 2005, the bloc had a combined GDP (Nominal/PPP) of about US$896.5 billion/$2.728 billion growing at an average rate of around 5.6 percent per annum. Nominal GDP had grown to $1,073.9 billion in 2006.
The member states of ASEAN are growing in importance internationally in an era of Pacific Rim development. ASEAN has expanded in its dialogs to include in some meetings China, Japan and South Korea, and in others, even India, Australia and New Zealand, thus having great impact beyond Southeast Asia itself. If East Asia were to eventually follow the path of economic and political union, after the example of the European Union, ASEAN will have most likely laid the foundation for that goal.
ASEAN was preceded by an organization called the Association of Southeast Asia, an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand that was formed in 1961. The bloc itself, however, was established on August 8, 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration. The five foreign ministers – Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand – are considered the organization's Founding Fathers.
The motivations for the birth of ASEAN were the desire for a stable external environment (so that its members’ governing elite could concentrate on nation-building), the common fear of communism, reduced faith in or mistrust of external powers in the 1960s, as well as the aspiration for national economic development. In addition to mutual interests, Indonesia was motivated by the ambition to become a regional hegemon and the hope on the part of Malaysia and Singapore to constrain Indonesia and bring it into a more cooperative framework. Unlike the Europe Union, ASEAN has been made to serve nationalism.
In 1976, the Melanesian state of Papua New Guinea was accorded observer status. Throughout the 1970s, the organization embarked on a program of economic cooperation, following the Bali Summit of 1976. This foundered in the mid-1980s and was only revived around 1991 due to a Thai proposal for a regional free trade area. The bloc then grew when Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member after it joined on January 8, 1984, barely a week after the country became independent on January 1.
During the 1990s, the bloc experienced an increase in both membership as well as in the drive for further integration. In 1990, Malaysia proposed the creation of an East Asia Economic Caucus composing the then-members of ASEAN as well as the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea, with the intention of counterbalancing the growing influence of the United States in the APEC as well as in the Asian region as a whole. This proposal, however, failed since it faced heavy opposition from Japan and the United States.
Despite this failure, member states continued to work for further integration. In 1992, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme was signed as a schedule for phasing tariffs and as a goal to increase the region’s competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market. This law would act as the framework for the ASEAN Free Trade Area.
On July 28, 1995, Vietnam became the seventh member; Laos and Myanmar joined two years later on July 23, 1997. Cambodia was to have joined together with Laos and Myanmar, but was deferred due to the country's internal political struggle. The country later joined on April 30, 1999, following the stabilization of its government.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, issues shifted to involve a more environmental prospective. The organization started to discuss environmental agreements. These included the signing of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as an attempt to control haze pollution in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful due to the outbreaks of the 2005 Malaysian haze and the 2006 Southeast Asian haze. Other environmental treaties introduced by the organization include the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network in 2005, and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, both of which are responses to Global Warming and the negative effects of climate change.
Through the Bali Concord II in 2003, ASEAN has subscribed to the notion of democratic peace, which means all member countries believe democratic processes will promote regional peace and stability. Also the non-democratic members all agreed that it was something to which all member states should aspire.
The leaders of each country, particularly Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, also felt the need to further integrate the region. Beginning in 1997, the bloc began creating organizations within its framework with the intention of achieving this goal. ASEAN Plus Three was the first of these and was created to improve existing ties with the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea. This was followed by the even larger East Asia Summit, which included these countries as well as India, Australia, and New Zealand. This new grouping acted as a prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community, which was supposedly patterned after the now-defunct European Community. The ASEAN Eminent Persons Group was created to study the possible successes and failures of this policy as well as the possibility of drafting an ASEAN Charter.
In 2006, ASEAN was given observer status at the United Nations General Assembly. As a response, the organization awarded the status of "dialogue partner" to the United Nations. Furthermore, in July 23 that year, José Ramos-Horta, then Prime Minister of East Timor, signed a formal request for membership and expected the accession process to last at least five years before the then-observer state became a full member.
On August 26, 2007, ASEAN also stated that it aims to complete all its free trade agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand by 2013, in line with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
In November 2007 the ASEAN members signed the ASEAN Charter, a constitution governing relations among the ASEAN members and establishing ASEAN itself as an international legal entity.
In the 1960s, the push for decolonization promoted the sovereignty of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, among others. Since nation-building is often messy and vulnerable to foreign intervention, the governing elite wanted to be free to implement independent policies with the knowledge that neighbors would refrain from interfering in their domestic affairs. Territorially small members such as Singapore and Brunei were consciously fearful of force and coercive measures from much bigger neighbors such as Indonesia and Malaysia. As a result, non-interference, consensus, non-use of force and non-confrontation became the key principles of the organization.
The process of consultations and consensus is purportedly a democratic approach to decisionmaking, but the ASEAN process has been managed through close interpersonal contacts among the top leaders only, who often share a reluctance to institutionalize and legalize cooperation which can undermine their regime’s control over the conduct of regional cooperation.
All of these features, namely non-interference, informality, minimal institutionalization, consultation and consensus, non-use of force and non-confrontation have constituted what is called the ASEAN Way.
Since the late 1990s, many scholars have argued that the principle of non-interference has blunted ASEAN efforts in handling the problem of Myanmar, human rights abuses and haze pollution in the region. Meanwhile, with the consensus-based approach, every member in fact has a veto and decisions are usually reduced to the lowest common denominator. There has been a widespread belief that ASEAN members should have a less rigid view on these two cardinal principles when they wish to be seen as a cohesive and relevant community.
Apart from consultations and consensus, ASEAN’s agenda-setting and decisionmaking processes can be usefully understood in terms of so-called Track I and Track II diplomacy. Track I refers to the practice of diplomacy between official government channels. The participants stand as representatives of their respective states and reflect the official positions of their governments during negotiations and discussions. All official decisions are made in Track I. However, Track II refers to diplomatic activities that are unofficial and includes participants from both government and non-government institutions such as the academic, economic communities and NGOs. This track enables governments to discuss controversial issues and test new ideas without making official statements or binding commitments, and, if necessary, backtrack on positions.
Although Track II dialogs are sometimes cited as examples of the involvement of civil society in regional decisionmaking process by governments and other second track actors, NGOs rarely have access to this track. Participants from the academic community include a dozen think-tanks, which, in most cases, are very much extensions of their respective governments, and dependent on government funding for their academic and policy-relevant activities. Their recommendations, especially on economic integration, are often closer to ASEAN’s decisions than the rest of civil society’s positions.
The track that acts as a forum for civil society in Southeast Asia is called Track III, which is essentially people-to-people diplomacy undertaken mainly by CSOs (civil society organizations). Track III networks claim to represent communities and people who are largely marginalized from political power centers and unable to achieve positive change without outside assistance. This track tries to influence government policies indirectly by lobbying, generating pressure through the media. Third-track actors also organize and/or attend meetings as well as conferences to get access to Track I officials.
While Track II meetings and interactions with Track I actors have increased and intensified, rarely has the rest of civil society had the opportunity to interface with Track II. Interactions with Track I have been even rarer. Thus, the majority of CSOs has been excluded from ASEAN’s agenda-setting and decisionmaking.
Until now, ASEAN has been run by government officials who, as far as ASEAN matters are concerned, are accountable only to their governments and not directly to the people. In a lecture on the occasion of ASEAN’s 38th anniversary, the incumbent Indonesian President Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono admitted:
All the decisions about treaties and free trade areas, about declarations and plans of action, are made by Heads of Government, ministers and senior officials. And the fact that among the masses, there is little knowledge, let alone appreciation, of the large initiatives that ASEAN is taking on their behalf.
The organization holds meetings, known as the ASEAN Summit, where heads of state and government of each member state meet to discuss and resolve regional issues, as well as to conduct other meetings with other countries outside of the bloc with the intention of promoting external relations.
The ASEAN Leaders' Formal Summit was first held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976. Its third meeting was held in Manila in 1987 and during this meeting, it was decided that the leaders would meet every five years. Consequently, the fourth meeting was held in Singapore in 1992 where the leaders again agreed to meet more frequently, deciding to hold the summit every three years. In 2001, it was decided to meet annually to address urgent issues affecting the region. Member nations were assigned to be the summit host in alphabetical order except in the case of Myanmar which dropped its 2006 hosting rights in 2004 due to pressure from the United States and the European Union.
The formal summit meets for three days. The usual itinerary is as follows:
|ASEAN Formal Summits|
|1st||February 23–24, 1976||Indonesia||Bali|
|2nd||August 4–5, 1977||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|3rd||December 14–15, 1987||Philippines||Manila|
|4th||January 27–29, 1992||Singapore||Singapore|
|5th||December 14–15, 1995||Thailand||Bangkok|
|6th||December 15–16, 1998||Vietnam||Hanoi|
|7th||November 5–6, 2001||Brunei||Bandar Seri Begawan|
|8th||November 4–5, 2002||Cambodia||Phnom Penh|
|9th||October 7–8, 2003||Indonesia||Bali|
|10th||November 29–30, 2004||Laos||Vientiane|
|11th||December 12–14, 2005||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|12th||January 11–14, 200711||Philippines||Cebu|
|13th||November 18–22, 2007||Singapore||Singapore|
|1 Postponed from December 10–14, 2006 due to Typhoon Seniang.|
|2 hosted the summit because Myanmar backed out, due to enormous pressure from US and EU.|
During the fifth Summit in Bangkok, the leaders decided to meet "informally" between each formal summit:
|ASEAN Informal Summits|
|1st||November 30, 1996||Indonesia||Jakarta|
|2nd||December 14-16, 1997||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|3rd||November 27-28, 1999||Philippines||Manila|
|4th||November 22-25, 2000||Singapore||Singapore|
The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a pan-Asian forum held annually by the leaders of 16 countries in East Asia and the region, with ASEAN in a leadership position. The summit has discussed issues including trade, energy and security and it has a role in regional community building.
The members of the summit are all 10 members of ASEAN together with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand who combined represent almost half of the world's population. Russia has applied for membership of the summit and in 2005 was a guest for the First EAS at the invitation of the host - Malaysia.
The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on December 14, 2005 and subsequent meetings have been held after the annual ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting.
|First EAS||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur||December 14, 2005||Russia attended as a guest.|
|Second EAS||Philippines||Cebu City||January 15, 2007||Rescheduled from December 13, 2006.
Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security
|Third EAS||Singapore||Singapore||November 21, 2007||Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment
Agreed to establish Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia
The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a formal, official, multilateral dialog in the Asia Pacific region. As of July 2007, it consisted of 27 participants. ARF objectives are to foster dialog and consultation, and promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994. The current participants in the ARF are as follows: all ASEAN members, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor-Leste, United States and Sri Lanka. The Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) has been excluded since the establishment of the ARF, and issues regarding the Taiwan Strait are neither discussed at the ARF meetings nor stated in the ARF Chairman's Statements.
Aside from the ones above, other regular meetings are also held. These include the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting as well as other smaller committees, such as the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center. Meetings mostly focus on specific topics, such as defense or the environment, and are attended by Ministers, instead of heads of government.
Begun in 1997 and formalized in 1999 after the Asan Financial Crisis, ASEAN Plus Three is a meeting between ASEAN, the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea, and is primarily held during each ASEAN Summit. However, the signifiance of this gathering is that it represents almost all of the nations of East Asia.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal dialog process initiated in 1996, bringing together the European Union and the ASEAN Plus Three groupings.
The ASEAN-Russia Summit is a meeting between leaders of member states and the President of Russia.
ASEAN has emphasized regional cooperation in the “three pillars” of security, sociocultural and economic integration. The regional grouping has made the most progress in economic integration, aiming to create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. The AEC would have a combined population of over 566 million and a GDP exceeding US$ 1.173 trillion.
The foundation of the AEC is the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), a common external preferential tariff scheme to promote the free flow of goods within ASEAN. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is an agreement by the member nations of ASEAN concerning local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. The AFTA agreement was signed on January 28, 1992 in Singapore. When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. The latecomers have not fully met the AFTA's obligations, but they are officially considered part of the AFTA as they were required to sign the agreement upon entry into ASEAN, and were given longer time frames in which to meet AFTA's tariff reduction obligations.
The AIA will encourage the free flow of investment within ASEAN. The main principles of the AIA are as follows:
Full realization of the AIA with the removal of temporary exclusion lists in manufacturing agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining is scheduled by 2010 for most ASEAN members and by 2015 for the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam).
An ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade in Services was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in December 1995. Under the agreement, ASEAN members are negotiating intra-regional services liberalization in several sectors, including air transport, business services, construction, financial services, maritime transport, telecommunications and tourism. Although some sectors have liberalized faster, such as air transport, other sectors remain subject to continued negotiation. Efforts to expand the scope of the Framework Agreement also remain subject to continued negotiations.
The ASEAN Single Aviation Market (SAM), proposed by the ASEAN Air Transport Working Group, supported by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting, and endorsed by the ASEAN Transport Ministers, will introduce an open-sky arrangement to the region by 2015. Not only will the ASEAN SAM be expected to fully liberalize air travel between its member states, it is also expected that SAM will further enhance tourism, trade, investment and services flows between them. Beginning January 1, 2009, there will be full liberalization of air freight services in the region, as well as removal of third and fourth freedom restrictions between capital cities of member states for air passengers services. By January 1, 2011, there will be liberalization of fifth freedom: traffic rights between all capital cities.
The organization hosts cultural activities in an attempt to further integrate the region. These include sports and educational activities as well as writing awards. Examples of these include the ASEAN University Network and the Singapore-sponsored ASEAN Scholarship.
The S.E.A. Write Award is a literary award given to Southeast Asian poets and writers annually since 1979. The award is either given for a specific work or as a recognition of an author's lifetime achievement. Works that are honored vary and have included poetry, short stories, novels, plays, folklore as well as scholarly and religious works. Ceremonies are held in Bangkok and is presided by a member of the Thai royal family.
ASAIHL or the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning is a non-governmental organization founded in 1956 that strives to strengthen higher learning institutions, especially in teaching, research, and public service, with the intention of cultivating a sense of regional identity and interdependence.
ASEAN Heritage Parks is a list of nature parks launched 1984 and relaunched in 2004. It aims to protect the region's natural treasures. There are now 35 such protected areas, including the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park and the Kinabalu National Park.
|ASEAN Heritage Sites|
|Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park||Myanmar||Ao Phang-nga Marine National Park||Thailand|
|Apo Natural Park||Philippines||Ba Be National Park||Vietnam|
|Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park||Indonesia||Gunung Leuser National Park||Indonesia|
|Gunung Mulu National Park||Malaysia||Ha Long Bay||Vietnam|
|Hoang Lien Sa Pa National Park||Vietnam||Iglit-Baco National Park||Philippines|
|Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary||Myanmar||Inlé Lake Wildlife Sanctuary||Myanmar|
|Kaeng Krachan National Park||Thailand||Kerinci Seblat National Park||Indonesia|
|Khakaborazi National Park||Myanmar||Khao Yai National Park||Thailand|
|Kinabalu National Park||Malaysia||Komodo National Park||Indonesia|
|Kon Ka Kinh National Park||Vietnam||Lampi Marine National Park||Myanmar|
|Lorentz National Park||Indonesia||Meinmhala Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary||Myanmar|
|Mu Ko Surin-Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park||Thailand||Nam Ha Protected Area||Laos|
|Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park||Vietnam||Preah Monivong (Bokor) National Park||Cambodia|
|Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park||Philippines||Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve||Singapore|
|Taman Negara National Park||Malaysia||Tarutao Marine National Park||Thailand|
|Tasek Merimbun Wildlife Sanctuary||Brunei||Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng National Park||Thailand|
|Tubbataha Reef Marine Park||Philippines||Ujung Kulon National Park||Indonesia|
|Virachey National Park||Cambodia|
The ASEAN Scholarship is a scholarship program offered by Singapore to the nine other member states for secondary school, junior college, and university education. It covers accommodation, food, medical benefits and accident insurance, school fees, and examination fees..
The ASEAN University Network (AUN) is a consortium of Southeast Asian universities. It was originally founded in November 1995 by 11 universities within the member states. Currently AUN comprises 21 Participating Universities.
The Southeast Asian Games, commonly known as the SEA Games, is a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from the current 11 countries of Southeast Asia. The games are under regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation with supervision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia.
The ASEAN Football Championship is a biennial soccer competition organized by the ASEAN Football Federation, accredited by FIFA and contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia nations. It was inaugurated in 1996 as the Tiger Cup, but after Asia Pacific Breweries terminated the sponsorship deal, "Tiger" was renamed "ASEAN."
The ASEAN ParaGames is a biennial multi-sport event held after every Southeast Asian Games for athletes with physical disabilities. The games are participated by the 11 countries located in Southeast Asia. The games, patterned after the Paralympics, includes mobility disabilities, amputees, visual disabilities, and those with cerebral palsy.
Western countries have criticized ASEAN for being too "soft" in its approach to promoting human rights and democracy in military junta-led Myanmar. Despite global outrage at the military crack-down on peaceful protesters in Yangon, ASEAN has refused to suspend Myanmar as a member and also rejects proposals for economic sanctions. This has caused concern as the European Union, a potential trade partner, has refused to conduct free trade negotiations at a regional level for these political reasons. International observers view it as a "talk shop", which implies that the organization is "big on words but small on action".
During the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, several militant groups staged anti-globalization and anti-Arroyo rallies. According to the protesters, the agenda of economic integration would negatively affect industries in the Philippines and cause thousands of Filipinos to lose their jobs. They also viewed the organization as "imperialistic" which threatens the country's sovereignty. A human rights lawyer from New Zealand was also present to protest about the human rights situation in the region in general.
|Regional bloc1||Area||Population||GDP ($US)||Member
|km²||sq mi||in millions (PPP)||in millions (nominal)||per capita (PPP)||per capita (nominal)|
|ASEAN (2007 est.)||4,497,493||1,736,000||566,500,000||3,115,480||1,173,000||5,541||2,041||10|
|CCASG / GCC||2,285,844||882,569||35,869,438||536,223||717,800||14,949||20,011||6|
|EU (2007 est.)||4,324,782||1,669,808||497,000,000||14,953,000||16,574,000||28,213||33,482||27|
|EFTA (2007 est.)||529,600||204,480||12,660,623||567,500||743,300||44,828||60,000||4|
|NAFTA (2007 est.)||21,783,850||8,410,792||445,000,000||15,857,000||15,723,000||35,491||35,564||3|
|Unasur / Unasul||17,339,153||6,694,684||370,158,470||2,868,430||N/A||7,749||N/A||12|
|UN and countries
|km²||sq mi||in millions (PPP)||in millions (nominal)||per capita (PPP)||per capita (nominal)|
|Brazil (2007 est.)||8,514,877||3,287,612||183,888,841||1,804,000||1,067,706||10,073||6,842||27|
|Canada (2007 est.)||9,984,670||3,855,103||33,000,000||1,274,000||1,406,000||38,200||42,738||13|
|India (2007 est.)||3,287,590||1,269,346||1,120,000,000||4,726,000||1,089,000||4,182||1,004||35|
|Japan (2007 est.)||377,873||145,898||127,433,494||4,346,000||4,346,000||33,800||38,341||47|
|PR China5 (2007 est.)||9,596,960||3,705,407||1,321,851,888||7,043,000||3,420,000||5,300||2,800||33|
|Russia (2007 est.)||17,075,200||6,592,772||142,500,000||2,076,000||1,286,000||14,600||9,056||83|
|USA (2007 est.)||9,826,630||3,794,083||302,000,000||13,543,000||13,794,700||43,500||45,594||50|
smallest value among the blocs compared largest value among the blocs compared
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