What is ASEAN?
The acronym ASEAN stands for Association for Southeast Asian Nations. As the name specifies, it is an organization pertaining to the countries in Southeast Asia. It comprises of total 10 countries in Southeast Asian region with two observer countries: Papua New Guinea & Timor Leste. ASEAN’s main objective has been to encourage intergovernmental cooperation along with promoting political,economic,educational and socio cultural integration among all its member countries along with other Asian countries. The organisation was established on 8th August 1967 in Bangkok by five Southeast Asian nations: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines amid the intense atmosphere of the Cold War and therefore it aimed at gaining stability in the region.
ASEAN: Chain of Events
- Before ASEAN came into existence, there was another organization already into place called Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) which was formed on 31st July 1961. It comprised of Philippines, Federation of Malaya and Thailand.
- This was followed by the formation of ASEAN in the year 1967 with the signing of ASEAN Declaration by foreign ministers of the five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
- The list of ASEAN countries was further extended in the year 1984 with Brunei as the sixth member followed by Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) in 1997 and lastly Cambodia joined in 1999 which was a delayed entry due to the country’s internal political scuffle.
- An ASEAN plus three forum was also introduced in 1997 which included China, South Korea and Japan.
- The East Asia Summit (EAS) followed the ASEAN plus three forum from 2005 and includes India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the US.
- In the year 1994, ASEAN also proposed to form a ‘Regional Forum’ which now consists of a total of 27 member countries.
Motto, Anthem and Head of ASEAN
- ASEAN is a combination of many Southeast Asian countries which works on the principle of interpersonal growth and cooperation within the region and promote development. Thus the main motto of ASEAN is – “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”
- The official ASEAN Anthem is – “The ASEAN Way”.
- Currently the secretary-general of ASEAN is H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi (2018-2022) from Brunei Darussalam. The secretary general of ASEAN is appointed by the ASEAN Summit for a five year term.
ASEAN Summit is a meeting of the participating Southeast Asian countries which is held twice a year, which implies ASEAN Summit is held biannually which is hosted by one of its member countries. The ASEAN Summit holds utmost importance as it addresses the worldly issues, discussions over the ongoing problems take place and some significant decisions are taken along with the development of new policies, which may promote and strengthen cooperation and growth among the Southeast Asian countries. It has been effective in achieving its goals and made quite an impact worldwide.
- The Ist ASEAN Summit was hosted by Bali, Indonesia in the year 1976 followed by the second one hosted by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1977 which was the first meeting between Japan and ASEAN and that was the occasion where Japan expressed its interest in cooperating with ASEAN.
- The recent 32nd ASEAN Summit was hosted by Singapore on 28th April 2018.
- The 9th ASEAN Summit which was held in 2003 and hosted by Bali, Indonesia was a significant one as a declaration was signed by the member countries which was called Bali Concord II where all the member countries gave their consent to accomplish greater economic cooperation.
- Similarly in the 11th ASEAN Summit, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, some major issues like- Myanmar democracy, fluctuation in crude oil prices, poverty, investment and trade were discussed.
- The 11th ASEAN Summit was immediately followed by the 1st East Asia Summit.
- The upcoming 34th ASEAN Summit will be held in Thailand in the month of June.
Objectives of ASEAN
ASEAN is counted among one of the most important international organizations which is pursuing some significant work towards cooperation (economic, social, cultural), growth and development in the Southeast Asian countries. We can sum up the objectives of ASEAN in few points:
- To encourage growth and development in the Southeast Asian Region.
- To promote cooperation with respect to various fields such as economic, cultural, social, scientific and administrative.
- To assist other member countries in various domains such as research and development, educational, professional and technical, as per the requirement.
- To maintain stability and peace in Southeast Asia region.
- Adhere to the principles specified in the United Nations Charter.
Thus, we can say that ASEAN is a significant organization striving to attain peace, stability, growth and cooperation in the Southeast Asian regions along with working together with other such countries whose intentions and objectives match with ASEAN’s.
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