ESTABLISHMENT AND MEMBERSHIP
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.
The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are:
i) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and
ii) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of States and Government re-affirmed that “Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN.”
The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976, declared that in their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties should be guided by the following fundamental principles:
- Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
- The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
- Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
- Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
- Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
- Effective cooperation among themselves.
ASEAN Regional Forum – ARF
In July 1993 the meeting of ASEAN ministers of foreign affairs sanctioned the establishment of a forum to discuss and promote co-operation on security issues within the region, and, in particular, to ensure the involvement of the People’s Republic of China in regional dialogue. The ARF was informally initiated during that year’s PMC, comprising the ASEAN countries, its dialogue partners (at that time Australia, Canada, the EC, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the USA), and the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Russia and Viet Nam. The first formal meeting of the ARF was conducted in July 1994, following the ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, and it was agreed that the ARF would be convened on an annual basis.
The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) stated that ASEAN political and security dialogue and cooperation should aim to promote regional peace and stability by enhancing regional resilience. Regional resilience shall be achieved by cooperating in all fields based on the principles of self-confidence, self-reliance, mutual respect, cooperation, and solidarity, which shall constitute the foundation for a strong and viable community of nations in Southeast Asia.
Some of the major political accords of ASEAN are as follows:
- ASEAN Declaration, Bangkok, 8 August 1967;
- Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration, Kuala Lumpur, 27 November 1971;
- Declaration of ASEAN Concord, Bali, 24 February 1976;
- Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Bali, 24 February 1976;
- ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea, Manila, 22 July 1992;
- Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, Bangkok, 15 December 1997; and
- ASEAN Vision 2020, Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 1997
- Declaration of ASEAN Concord II, Bali, 7 October 2003
The ASEAN Security Community is envisaged to bring ASEAN’s political and security cooperation to a higher plane to ensure that countries in the region live at peace with one another and with the world at large in a just, democratic and harmonious environment.
Through political dialogue and confidence building, no tension has escalated into armed confrontation among ASEAN members since its establishment more than three decades ago.