Diplomacy and dialogue have long been important pieces in ASEAN’s diplomatic toolbox to prevent, manage or resolve disputes in the region. Considerable body of knowledge and state practice in dealing with disputes and political instability have been built, often independent of formal provisions as provided, for instance, in the ASEAN Charter, the TAC and processes such as the ARF and EAS. While there is no one-size-fits-all, as each situation is unique, ASEAN’s firm conviction in the efficacy of diplomacy and dialogue – including informal and quiet diplomacy – have served it well. As the situation in Myanmar persists, ASEAN’s capacity to help resolve the crisis is being severely tested.
The promising start to its engagement on the issue, namely the adoption of the Five-Point Consensus and the principled decision of inviting only non-political figures from Myanmar to ASEAN summits and foreign ministers’ meetings, have not gathered momentum. The chorus of expression of international support for ASEAN’s efforts and the engagement and concern of the ASEAN public have merely highlighted the gap between expectation and reality of ASEAN’s capacity to contribute.
ASEAN Special Envoys have been met by stubborn refusal by the coup leaders to meaningfully engage. Far from declining, perpetration of violence persists. No forum exist for the coup leaders to be held accountable for their actions and their rejection of the Five-Point Consensus; and the called for dialogue among all the parties concerned have not materialized. Following a review of the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus at the last Summit, ASEAN foreign ministers have been tasked to come up with an implementation plan for the Five-Point Consensus; two years after the crisis began.
What are ASEAN’s options as it grapples with yet another litmus test for its relevance? What lessons – suitably adjusted – do past ASEAN state practice in conflict prevention, management and resolution offer?
This Roundtable is the fourth of a series on ASEAN by Dr. Marty Natalegawa.
About the Speaker
Marty Natalegawa was appointed as Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies on 1 July 2022.
Dr Natalegawa holds a D.Phil. from the Australian National University; an M.Phil. from University of Cambridge; and a BSc (Hons) from the London School of Economics.
Dr Natalegawa served as Foreign Minister of Indonesia (2009 – 2014). Previously, he served as Permanent Representative/Ambassador of Indonesia to the United Nations (UN); Ambassador to the UK and also to Ireland. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, among others, he served as Director General for ASEAN Cooperation and Director for International Organizations.
Within ASEAN, he has been instrumental in pushing for the ASEAN Community and was an early advocate of an ASEAN role in the Indo-Pacific through the concept of “dynamic equilibrium”. Throughout, including as Foreign Minister, he actively promoted the management and resolution of potential conflicts in the region.
Within the context of the UN, he served, among others, as President of the Security Council in November 2007 and led Indonesia’s delegation at numerous multilateral negotiations, both within the UN and beyond. He was instrumental in securing Indonesia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 2012.
He served in the UNSG’s High Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crises and UN President of the General Assembly’s 72nd Session Team of External Advisors.
He is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. He is also a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament and the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
He is also presently Asia Society Policy Institute Distinguished Fellow; a member of the International Academic Advisory Committee of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies; the Southeast Asia Advisory Board of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS – Washington, D.C.); Global Advisory Committee of the Jeju Forum; University of Western Australia’s Public Policy Institute Advisory Board; the Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa; and is a Prominent Research Scholar of the Bank of Indonesia Institute. He is also the Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Leaders Network (APLN) for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
He is the author of “Does ASEAN Matter? A view from Within” (ISEAS Publishing – 2018).
Dr Natalegawa has been cited as “one of the most respected foreign policy and international security thinkers of his generation, both within Indonesia, in South-east Asia, and in the broader Asia-Pacific region”.