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ASEAN primer


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Fifty-six years ago on Aug. 8, 1967 in Thailand, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the group’s five founding fathers representing Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam joined the group on Jan. 7, 1984; followed by Viet Nam on July 28, 1995; Lao PDR and Myanmar on July 23, 1997; and Cambodia on April 30, 1999, making up what is today the 10 member-states of the ASEAN.

As stated in its primer, the ASEAN Charter serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community, by providing its legal status and institutional framework. It also codifies the norms, rules, and values in the group; sets clear targets for themselves, and presents accountability and compliance.

The ASEAN Charter entered into force on Dec. 15, 2008 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in the presence of the respective foreign ministers. With its entry into force, the ASEAN started to operate under a new legal framework, and establish a number of new organs to boost its community-building process.

In effect, the ASEAN Charter is the legally-binding agreement among the 10 member-states.

It will also be registered with the Secretariat of the UN, pursuant to Art. 102, Paragraph 1 of the Charter of the United Nations.

President Marcos Jr. recently attended his second ASEAN Summit (Sept. 5-7) in Jakarta, providing a strategic opportunity for the ASEAN to deepen its robust partnership with its dialogue partners Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Korea, the US, and the UN.

The Southeast Asian leaders, led by the host, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, gathered for their final Summit, besieged by divisive issues with no solutions in sight: Myanmar’s deadly civil strife, new flare-ups in the disputed South China Sea with the release of the 10-dash line claim, and the longstanding US-China rivalry.

Note that if the ASEAN countries move to decouple from China, their economies could suffer serious damage.

In particular, ASEAN countries have become increasingly dependent on China for trade in recent years.

“We will foster cooperation with these countries in areas such as trade and investment, climate action, food security, clean energy and maritime cooperation,”Marcos said.

“I will also participate in the ASEAN Plus 3, and East Asia Summits during which we will discuss the developments in the South China Sea, the situation in Myanmar, the conflict in Ukraine, as well as on other major power rivalries,” he added.

Last week, Philippine vessels delivering food, water, fuel, and other supplies to troops stationed onboard BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal were harassed and blocked  by Chinese Coast guard vessels.

The Philippines has been demanding that China adhere to international laws, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea. To this day, Beijing continues to ignore the arbitral  award.

Can the ASEAN help?


Author’s email: [email protected]




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