Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Latest Update – The first-ever India-ASEAN hackathon was held from 1st to 4th February 2021.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN is an organisation formed by the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore in 1967 to promote economic growth, peace, security, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region.

Read about ASEAN for the IAS Exam preparation.

Why read about ASEAN?

Recent Context about ASEAN for UPSC: India-ASEAN Hackathon 2021

A first-ever online hackathon was organized for students and mentors from 10 ASEAN Countries and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the hackathon at the 16th India ASEAN summit in November 2019. It was an online hackathon jointly organized by the Indian Ministries of Education and Extern Affairs.

The themes of the hackathon were ‘Blue Economy’ and ‘Education.’

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ASEAN History

ASEAN was established on 8th August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration (a.k.a ASEAN Declaration) by the founding fathers of the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. The preceding organisation was the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) comprising of Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Five other nations joined the ASEAN in subsequent years making the current membership to ten countries.

ASEAN Members

  • Thailand (founding member)
  • The Philippines (founding member)
  • Malaysia (founding member)
  • Singapore (founding member)
  • Indonesia (founding member)
  • Brunei (joined in 1984)
  • Vietnam (joined in 1995)
  • Lao PDR (joined in 1997)
  • Myanmar (joined in 1997)
  • Cambodia (joined in 1999)

There are two observer States namely, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste (East Timor).

Learn about India’s relations with the ASEAN Nations from the links given below:

The Human Development Index rankings of the ASEAN members are given in the table below:

ASEAN Members by Human Development Index 2020-21

Country HDI Comments
Brunei 0.838 Very High
Cambodia 0.594 Medium (Lowest among ASEAN members)
Indonesia 0.718 High
Laos 0.613 Medium
Malaysia 0.810 Very High
Myanmar 0.583 Medium
Philippines 0.718 High
Singapore 0.938 Very High (Highest HDI among ASEAN members
Thailand 0.777 High

ASEAN Purpose

  1. Accelerating economic growth, cultural development, and social progress in the region by joint initiatives in the spirit of partnership and equality to cement the foundation for a peaceful and strong community of SE Asian countries.
  2. Promoting peace and stability in the region by incorporating respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationships between nations and adherence to the United Nations principles.
  3. Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in subjects of common interest in social, economic, cultural, administrative, scientific, and technical domains.
  4. Assisting member countries via training and research facilities in the educational, administrative, technical, and professional domains.
  5. Cooperating for better usage of agriculture and industries, trade expansion (including studying the problem of international commodity trade), improving communication and transportation facilities, and improving living standards among the people.
  6. Promoting SE Asian studies.
  7. Exploring more avenues for further cooperation among themselves, and maintaining close and advantageous cooperation with other international groupings of similar objectives.

ASEAN Fundamental Principles

  1. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
  2. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
  3. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
  4. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
  5. Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
  6. Effective cooperation among themselves.

ASEAN Headquarters

  • The body is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Secretary-General: Dato Lim Jock Hoi
  • Official Languages: Burmese, Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese
  • Working Language: English

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Frequently Asked Questions on ASEAN

Q 1. When is ASEAN Day observed?

Ans. August 8 every year is observed as the ASEAN Day. The 54th ASEAN Day will be observed on August 8, 2021.

Q 2. What is ASEAN Charter?

Ans. The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. It serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community by providing legal status and institutional framework for ASEAN.

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