BACKGROUNDER: ASEAN COMMUNITY’S BUILDING PROCESS
SINGAPORE, The 32nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit has kicked off here under the theme “Resilient and Innovative”.
The building process of ASEAN Community started in 2003 when leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states agreed to establish a community at the 9th ASEAN summit.
At the 12th ASEAN Summit held in January 2007 in Cebu of the Philippines, the leaders made a strong commitment to facilitating the establishment of an ASEAN Community by the end of 2015 and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
The ASEAN Community comprises three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Each pillar has its own blueprint, and, together with the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Strategic Framework and IAI Work Plan Phase II (2009-2015), they form the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015).
The ASEAN Charter, which entered into force in 2008, serves as a solid foundation and a significant milestone in achieving the ASEAN Community goal by providing legal status and institutional framework for it. It also codifies ASEAN norms, rules and values, sets clear targets for ASEAN, and presents accountability and compliance.
To gear up capacity building, ASEAN has set up the ASEAN Coordinating Council and three ASEAN Community Councils, including the ASEAN Political-Security Community Council, the ASEAN Economic Community Council and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council.
At the 19th ASEAN Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2011, the ASEAN leaders adopted the Bali Declaration on ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations, or the Bali Concord III, a historic outcome document which is widely expected to increase ASEAN’s active role in addressing global issues and to map out the road for ASEAN’s interaction with the global community.
ASEAN leaders also affirmed their commitment to adopt a more coordinated, cohesive and coherent ASEAN position on global issues of common concern which would further raise ASEAN’s common voice in relevant multilateral fora, and develop an enhanced ASEAN capacity to contribute and respond to key global issues of common interest which would benefit all ASEAN member states and their peoples.
At the 21st ASEAN Summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2012, ASEAN leaders agreed to sign, adopt, and note different documents including the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the Establishment of an ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center and the Bali Concord III Plan of Action (2013-2017).
They also launched the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation while pledging to bring the ASEAN common platform on global issues into reality by 2020.
At the 22nd ASEAN Summit held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, in April 2013, the leaders agreed to push ahead with the ASEAN Roadmap and ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, and intensify regional and sub-regional efforts in the spurt to realize the goal of establishing an ASEAN Community by the end of 2015.
While spelling out concrete measures and steps necessary for ensuring the ASEAN Community be established as scheduled, the leaders, in view of unbalanced development within the block, reached consensus that the AEC shall be firstly established in 2015.
Leaders attending the 23rd ASEAN Summit, held in October 2013 also in Bandar Seri Begawan, reaffirmed their commitment to intensifying efforts towards realizing the ASEAN Community by 2015.
The summit adopted a statement on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision, under which the ASEAN Coordinating Council is tasked to develop ASEAN’s future development plans in consultations and coordination with the three ASEAN Community Councils.
The 24th ASEAN Summit, held in Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw in May 2014, focused on the timely realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015, strengthening ASEAN institutions and envisioning a strategic direction for the ASEAN Community post-2015.
By then, a review of the achievements of the cause showed that 80 percent of the required measures of the ASEAN Community had been implemented.
With merely one and half years before the 2015 deadline, the summit adopted a declaration on the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2015, in which leaders recognized the urgency of the successful establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and agreed to strengthen ASEAN unity and expedite the implementation of the remaining action lines under the ASEAN roadmap.
At the 25th ASEAN Summit also held in Nay Pyi Taw, ASEAN leaders promised to strengthen their efforts to meet the goal of establishing an ASEAN community by 2015.
They reaffirmed their vision stated in ASEAN Vision 2020 as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.
The leaders were also determined to shape a bold and forward-looking future for ASEAN which will enhance and strengthen the ASEAN Community and enable the realization of a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, and a truly people- oriented, people-centered and rules-based ASEAN.
Leaders at the 26th ASEAN Summit in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and northwestern resort island of Langkawi reaffirmed to make their utmost for the establishment of the ASEAN Community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible by the year-end of 2015 and agreed to tackle non-tariff barriers in order to further boost free movement of goods and services.
At the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, which charts the path for ASEAN Community building over the next 10 years, was endorsed. The document is a forward looking roadmap that articulates ASEAN goals and aspirations to realize further consolidation, integration and stronger cohesiveness as a community.
At its 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits held in Vientiane of Laos in 2016, the leaders adopted the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, an integral part of the ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, in a bid to advance the ASEAN community building process.
Leaders at the 30th ASEAN Summit, held in Manila last year, reaffirmed their commitment that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be implemented in a mutually-reinforcing manner to build a truly inclusive and people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community.
At the 31th ASEAN Summit, leaders signed the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers that strengthens the social protection, access to justice, and ensures humane and fair treatment of the growing numbers of migrant workers in the region. They believed the document will help establish a framework for cooperation on migrant workers in the region and contribute to the ASEAN community building process.
ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: NAM News Network