The Business Times

Asean's quest for relevance, purpose

A calibrated attempt towards a limited pooling of sovereignties can help nudge regional integration in what was previously an endemically conflict-ridden region.

Published Tue, Nov 24, 2015 · 09:50 PM

DOES the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) matter anymore? This has been a longstanding question in the region of more than 600 million people since the end of the Cold War and the inclusion of Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia as member-states in the 1990s.

On Nov 20, 2007, amid growing concerns about organisational atrophy and irrelevance, Asean heads of government signed the Asean Charter at the 13th Asean Summit in Singapore. This constitutional moment was intended to augur bigger achievements beyond regional peace.

The Charter is best looked upon as a political declaration of the common intent, principles, norms and values of Asean member-states. It provides the basis for collective evolution and development. The Charter also seeks to support the vision of the "Asean Community", comprising three pillars: the economic community, the political-security community, and the socio-cultural community. Broadly speaking, the Charter aspires…

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