The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN - pronounced AH-SEE-AHN) is a geo-political and economic organization of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia. ASEAN was formed on August 8, 1967 by the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, as a display of solidarity against communist expansion in Vietnam and insurgency within their own borders. Following the Bali Summit of 1976, the organization embarked on a programme of economic cooperation, which floundered in the mid-1980s only to be revived around a 1991 Thai proposal for a regional "free trade area". The countries meet annually.
ASEAN was founded by five states, mostly from maritime Southeast Asia: the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
The British protectorate of Brunei joined ASEAN six days after the country became independent from the United Kingdom on January 8, 1984.
The mainland states of Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar were later admitted. Vietnam joined ASEAN on July 28, 1995. Laos and Myanmar were admitted into ASEAN on July 23, 1997. Cambodia became the newest member when it was admitted on April 30, 1999.
The Melanesian state of Papua New Guinea has observer status in ASEAN. In 23 July 2006, Jose Ramos Horta, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, announced that it would sign a formal request to join the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations the next week in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday during a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum. Mr Ramos Horta said he expects the ASEAN accession process to take about five years. Australia is also interested in becoming a member of ASEAN.
The association includes about 8% of the world's population and in 2003 it had a combined GDP of about USD$700 billion, growing at an average rate of around 4% per annum. The economies of member countries of ASEAN are diverse, although its major products include electronics, petroleum, and wood.
The ASEAN countries are culturally rich. It includes more Muslims than any other geopolitical entity. About 240 million Muslims live mostly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Buddhism constitutes the main religion of mainland Southeast Asia and there are about 170 million Buddhists in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. Roman Catholicism is predominant in the Philippines.
Through the Bali Concord 11 in 2003, ASEAN has subscribed to the notion of democratic peace, which means all member countries believe democratic processes will promote regional peace and stability. Also the non-democratic members all agreed that it was something all member states should aspire to.
ASEAN was originally formed out of an organization called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand that formed in 1961. As such, ASA is considered the predecessor to ASEAN.
ASEAN itself was established on August 8, 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ASEAN Declaration (also known as the Bangkok Declaration). The five foreign ministers, considered the organization's Founding Fathers, were Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso R. Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand.
The founding fathers envisaged that the organization would eventually encompass all countries in Southeast Asia.Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member of the ASEAN when it joined on January 8, 1984, barely a week after the country became independent on January 1. It would be a further 11 years before ASEAN expanded from its core six members. Vietnam became the seventh member—and the first Communist member of ASEAN—on July 28, 1995, and Laos and Myanmar joined two years later in July 23, 1997. Cambodia was to have joined the ASEAN together with Laos and Myanmar, but was deferred due to the country's internal political struggle. Cambodia later joined on April 30, 1999, following the stabilization of its government. Thus was completed the ASEAN-10—the organization of all countries in Southeast Asia.
The ASEAN Regional Forum
ASEAN regularly conducts dialogue meetings with other countries and the European Union, collectively known as the ASEAN dialogue partners during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
The ASEAN Regional Forum is an informal multilateral dialogue of 25 members that seeks to address security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994. The current participants in the ARF are as follows: ASEAN, Australia, Canada, People's Republic of China, European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, East Timor, and the United States. Bangladesh was added to ARF as the 26th member, starting from July 28, 2006.
The ASEAN Summit
The organization holds annual meetings in relation to economic, and cultural development of Southeast Asian countries.
The ASEAN Leaders' Formal Summit was first held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976. At first there was no set schedule due to domestic issues in the member countries. In 1992, leaders decided to hold meetings every three years; and in 2001 it was decided to meet annually to address urgent issues affecting the region. Member nations were assigned to be the summit host in alphabetical order except in the case of Myanmar which dropped its 2006 hosting rights in 2004 due to pressure from the United States and the European Union.
The formal summit meets for three days. The usual itinerary is as follows:
- ASEAN leaders hold an internal organization meeting.
- ASEAN leaders hold a conference together with foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum.
- Leaders of 3 ASEAN Dialogue Partners (also known as ASEAN+3) namely China, Japan and South Korea hold a meeting with the ASEAN leaders.
- A separate meeting is set for leaders of 2 ASEAN Dialogue Partners (also known as ASEAN-CER) namely Australia and New Zealand.
At the 11th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, new meetings were scheduled. These were:
- East Asia Summit - converging ASEAN and six dialogue partners namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
- ASEAN-Russia Summit - meeting between ASEAN leaders and the President of Russia.
A separate forum for dialogue is the Asia-Europe Meeting which brings together the European Union and the ASEAN+3 groupings.
|ASEAN Formal Summit|
|1st||1976 February 23 - February 24||Indonesia||Bali|
|2nd||1977 August 4 - August 5||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|3rd||1987 December 14 - December 15||Philippines||Metro Manila|
|4th||1992 January 27 - January 29||Singapore||Singapore|
|5th||1995 December 14 - December 15||Thailand||Bangkok|
|6th||1998 December 15 - December 16||Vietnam||Hanoi|
|7th||2001 November 5 - November 6||Brunei||Bandar Seri Begawan|
|8th||2002 November 4 - November 5||Cambodia||Phnom Penh|
|9th||2003 October 7 - October 8||Indonesia||Bali|
|10th||2004 November 29 - November 30||Laos||Vientiane|
|11th||2005 December 12 - December 14||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|12th||2007 January 11 - January 14 (postponed in December 2006 because of Typhoon Seniang)||Philippines||Metro Cebu|
 - originally scheduled December 10-14 but was rescheduled to January 2007.
To address urgent regional issues, ASEAN leaders hold informal summit meetings while formal meetings were being prepared. Leaders decided to discontinue informal meetings in 2000 and hold formal meetings every year effective 2001.
|ASEAN Informal Summit|
|1st||1996 November 30||Indonesia||Jakarta|
|2nd||1997 December 14 - December 16||Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur|
|3rd||1999 November 27 - November 28||Philippines||Metro Manila|
|4th||2000 November 22 - November 25||Singapore||Singapore|
Comparison with other Regional blocs
|Area (km²)||Population||GDP (PPP) ($US)||Member
|in millions||per capita|
|Area (km²)||Population||GDP (PPP) ($US)||Political
|in millions||per capita|
|China (PRC) 4||9,596,960||1,306,847,624||10,000,000||7,600||33|
|1 Including data only for full and most active members
2 The first five states in the World by area, population and GDP (PPP)
regions administered by the Republic of China (Taiwan).
██ smallest value among the blocs compared ██ largest value among the blocs comparedDuring 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database
- ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution
- ASEAN Free Trade Area
- ASEAN Football Championship
- List of members of the ASEAN
- Asian Currency Unit
- Southeast Asian Games
- List of Trade blocs
- East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC)
- S.E.A. Write Award
- ^ "East Timor ASEAN bid", The Sun-Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2006-07-23. Retrieved on 2007-1-28.
- ^ "Australia Seeks Free-Trade Accord, Asean Membership at Summit", Bloomberg, Saturday, January 13 2007.
- ^ "Asean: Changing, but only slowly", BBC, Wednesday, 8 October, 2003.
- ^ Bangladesh joins ASEAN Regional Forum, Hindustan Times, July 22, 2006.
- ASEAN Website official website
- The Official Guidebook on ASEAN websites
- ASEAN Quick Guide and General Info unofficial website
- 11th ASEAN Summit 12–14 December 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia official site
- 11th ASEAN Summit 12–14 December 2005, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- ASEAN Regional Forum
- ASEAN Foundation
- ASEAN-Japan Centre
- ASEAN News Network headline news links
- ASEAN Focus Group
- ASEAN Secretariat Related Sites
- 12th ASEAN Summit
- The Council on East Asian Community