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Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political, economic, and cultural organization of countries located in Southeast Asia. Founded in 1967, its aim is to foster cooperation and mutual assistance among members. The countries meet regularly every November in summits.

Table of contents
1 Members
2 The ASEAN Regional Forum
3 History
4 External Link


The current member countries of ASEAN are:

Papua New Guinea has observer status in the ASEAN.

The ASEAN also conducts dialogue meetings with other countries and an organization, collectively known as the ASEAN dialogue partners. They are Australia, Canada, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, and the European Union.

The member countries of ASEAN are diverse. They include some of the most repressive and some of the most democratic governments in the world, with economic policies ranging from liberal and democratic to communist and socialist. The cultures and religions of the various peoples in the region include the predominantly Catholic Philippines, to Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, and Buddhist Thailand. ASEAN includes governments considered corrupt and governments considered transparent.

The ASEAN Regional Forum

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is an informal multilateral dialogue of 23 members that seeks to address security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994. The members include the 10 member states of the ASEAN, the observer Papua New Guinea, and the 12 ASEAN dialogue partners.


The ASEAN 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 will eventually encompass all countries in Southeast Asia.

Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member of the ASEAN when it joined on January 7, 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 in 1995, and Laos and Myanmar joined two years later in July 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.

East Timor

The new nation of East Timor, previously part of Indonesia, has had a long struggle with ASEAN. East Timor, during its long process towards independence, has sought to have observer status in the ASEAN, much like Papua New Guinea, and eventually official member status. However, many countries in the ASEAN have barred support for East Timor in the late 1990s in the name of solidarity with Indonesia. Myanmar, in particular, opposed granting observer status to East Timor because of the latter's support for Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since East Timor's independence in May 2002, the ASEAN has been more accommodating of the new nation. East Timor has already been invited to several ASEAN meetings. However, East Timor is still not an observer nation in the ASEAN.

October 2003 Summit

At a meeting on October 7, 2003 on Bali, leaders of the members nations signed a declaration known as the Bali Concord II in which they agreed to pursue closer economic integration by 2020.

According to the declaration, "an ASEAN Community" would be set upon three pillars, "namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation... for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region." The plan envisaged a region with a population of 500 million and annual trade of US$720 billion. Also, a free trade area would be established in the region by 2020. Asean's leaders also discussed setting up a security community alongside the economic one, though without any formal military alliance.

During the same meeting, China and ASEAN have also agreed to work faster toward a mutual trade agreement, which will create the world's most populous market, with 1.7 billion consumers. Japan also signed an agreement pledging to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers with ASEAN members.

External Link