25 March 2015
For the Asean member states, the benchmark of successful regionalism has been the organisation’s effectiveness in bringing the region closer. Asean has provided a forum for closer consultations while promoting the habit of cooperation. The lack of intra-state conflict in a region derided as a cockpit of war and the Balkans of the East during the 1950s and 1960s has been credited to Asean’s success in moulding a greater regional consciousness among policymakers.
Still, in the first 40 years of its existence — from 1967 to 2007 — only 30% of the bloc’s agreements were implemented. I was therefore sceptical of the impact of the Asean Charter when it was adopted in November 2007.
At that time, I criticised the codifying of existing norms instead of breaking new ground. I was disappointed that the Asean leaders reacted conservatively to the recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group report, which presented ground-breaking and innovative proposals for integration, including a proposal that the ministers who handle security, economic, and sociocultural issues report directly to the Asean Summit.
…Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow and Bakrie Professor of Southeast Asia Policy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This article in the Pacific Forum CSIS Pacnet series first appeared as RSIS Commentary.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 25/03/2015