Background of the Establishment of ASEAN and Its Purpose

ASEAN’s Purpose and Background – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or what we usually call ASEAN, is a geopolitical and economic organization for countries in the Southeast Asian region. ASEAN itself was first established on August 8, 1967, in Bangkok. At that time, the agreement was born due to the signing of eight countries to the Bangkok Declaration.

The purpose of establishing this multinational organization called ASEAN is none other than to provide welfare to all citizens of Southeast Asia. The feeling of shared destiny as a newly established country amid a tense war between the two superpowers has made the leaders of Southeast Asia take the initiative to unite themselves to create peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the Southeast Asian region.

In the 1960s, the Southeast Asian region was a green area or an area that was very vulnerable for superpowers to meet in military and ideological wars. This very worrying condition has the potential to cause turmoil that could disrupt the country’s stability during the development period. This was the main reason for the leaders of the former ASEAN countries to work together to realize the shared goals with the seven objectives, namely:

A. ASEAN Goals

1. Accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region through joint efforts in a spirit of equality and friendship to strengthen the foundations of a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations.
2. Promote active Cooperation and mutual assistance on issues of common interest in the economic, social, technical, scientific, and administrative fields.
3. Promote regional peace and stability by respecting justice and the rule of law in relations between countries and complying with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
4. Provide mutual assistance through advice on training and research in education, professions, engineering, and administration.
5. Cooperate more effectively to increase agricultural and industrial utilization, expand trade and study international commodity issues, improve transportation and communication facilities, and improve people’s living standards.
6. To promote the study of Southeast Asia.
7. To maintain close and fruitful Cooperation with various international and regional organizations having similar aims and to look after every possibility for close Cooperation among themselves.

B. Background to the Establishment of ASEAN

After understanding the goals of ASEAN, we will try to re-understand the most essential and fundamental background for establishing the ASEAN multinational organization. The following are some of the experiences that strongly encourage Cooperation between countries in Southeast Asia:

1. Geographic Equation

The geographic similarity of the countries in the Southeast Asian region is a sense of shared destiny that emerges. The Southeast Asian area is located between two continents, namely the Australian Continent and the mainland Asian Continent. Apart from the two continents, the Southeast Asian site is flanked by two giant oceans: the Indian and Pacific oceans.

2. Cultural Similarities

The majority of the population of Southeast Asia is descended from the Malayan Mongoloid race. The Malayan Mongoloid race, in its development, has received many cultural influences such as skin color, food, and customs from China, India, to Arabia (Gujarat).

3. Equation of Interests

As a region of countries that are still relatively newly independent, Southeast Asian countries have the same goals and aspirations. ASEAN’s goals and aspirations include prosperity, security, order, and peace at the national and international levels.

4. Equal Fate

At that time, almost all countries in Southeast Asia were colonies of other countries, such as Indonesia by the Netherlands, the Philippines by Spain and America, to Malaysia and Singapore by the British. Only Thailand is free from colonialism.

10 ASEAN Member Countries

Quoted from the online media of the ASEAN-Indonesia National Secretariat, the following are the ten countries that are members of ASEAN and their joining date that needs to be known:
1. Indonesia: August 8, 1967
2. Malaysia: August 8, 1967
3. Singapore: August 8, 1967
4. Thailand: August 8, 1967
5. Philippines: August 8, 1967
6. Brunei Darussalam: 8 January 1984
7. Vietnam: July 28, 1995
8. Laos: July 23, 1997
9. Myanmar: July 23, 1997
10. Cambodia: April 30, 1999

C. Current ASEAN

As mentioned above, ASEAN was ratified for the first time by signing the Bangkok Declaration in 1967. The meeting was attended by representatives from several countries in the Southeast Asian region, such as Adam Malik from Indonesia, Tun Abdul Razak from Malaysia, Thanat Khoman from Thailand, Narciso Ramos from the Philippines, and S. Rajaratnam from Singapore.

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After more than five decades, countries still actively joining ASEAN include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

Referring to the information on the website of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is stated that currently, ASEAN already has an ASEAN Charter, or is called an ASEAN Charter. The ASEAN Charter aims to transform ASEAN from a loose political association into an international organization based on legal and strong law (legal personality), with binding and transparent regulations and an effective and efficient organizational structure.

The ASEAN Charter or ASEAN Charter aims to reinforce the principles of all ASEAN declarations, agreements, and agreements. The ASEAN Charter was signed at the 13th ASEAN Summit held on November 20, 2007, in Singapore by 10 Heads of State or governments of ASEAN member countries. The ASEAN Charter is effective or enters into force as of December 15, 2008. This charter comes into effect exactly 30 days after the 10 ASEAN member countries ratified it. In this case, Indonesia has ratified the ASEAN Charter through Law no. 38 of 2008.

D. The Principles of the Formation of ASEAN

ASEAN is not only about the purpose of its formation. In addition to the ASEAN goals that have been agreed upon, the following are the principles for the construction of ASEAN, which used the basis of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of South East Asia (TAC) in 1976:

1. Main Principles

a. Respect each country’s independence, sovereignty, equality, national territorial integrity, and national identity
b. The right of every state to preside over its national presence free from outside interference, subversion, or coercion
c. Do not interfere in the internal affairs of fellow member countries
d. settlement of differences or debates peacefully,
e. Refusing to use lethal force
f. Effective Cooperation between members

Basic principles

a. Respect the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all ASEAN member countries
b. Share commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing peace, security, and prosperity in the region
c. Refuse aggression and threats or use of force or other actions in a way that is inconsistent with written international law
d. Reliance on peaceful settlement of disputes
e. Non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN member countries
f. Respect the right of each Member State to maintain its national existence free from external interference, subversion, and coercion
g. Increased consultation on matters seriously affecting the common interests of ASEAN
h. Compliance with the rule of law, good governance, democratic principles, and constitutional government
i. Respect for fundamental freedoms, promoting and protecting human rights, and promoting social justice
j. Uphold the United Nations Charter and international law, including international humanitarian law, as approved by ASEAN member countries
k. Please do not participate in policies or activities, including the use of its territory. They are pursued by ASEAN Member States, non-ASEAN States, or non-state actors, which threaten the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political and economic stability of ASEAN Member States
l. Respect the cultural, linguistic and religious differences of the ASEAN people, while emphasizing shared values ​​in the spirit of unity in diversity;
m. ASEAN centrality in external political, economic, social and cultural relations while remaining actively engaged, outward-looking, inclusive and non-discriminatory;
n. Adherence to multilateral trade rules and ASEAN rules-based regimes for the effective implementation of economic commitments and progressive reduction towards removing all obstacles to regional economic integration in the drive of market economies.

E. Forms of ASEAN Cooperation in Various Fields

For almost more than five decades, countries in the Southeast Asian region under ASEAN have actively collaborated in various fields. The Cooperation carried out by ASEAN countries includes the areas of economics, politics, education, security, social, and culture. The Cooperation carried out by ASEAN countries is very diverse; this is a way for each country to help each other realize the goals and aspirations of ASEAN member countries.

In brief, the objectives of various forms of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in various fields are as follows:

  • ASEAN Cooperation in the Social Sector: Each ASEAN member country must have an active role and participate in efforts to build Cooperation to support the welfare of its own country.
  • ASEAN Cooperation in the Field of Politics and Security: Cooperation in politics and security is aimed at creating security, stability, and peace between countries in the Southeast Asian region.
  • ASEAN Cooperation in the Sector of Education: This collaboration aims to improve the quality of education in Southeast Asia and increase international competitiveness.
  • ASEAN Cooperation in the Economic Sector: All Cooperation takes place as a step to create and realize equitable and sustainable economic growth in the countries of the Southeast Asian region.

Referring to the Social Sciences module from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the following are forms of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in various fields.

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1. Forms of ASEAN Cooperation in the Field of Politics and Security

One definite example of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in the political and security fields is the agreement on ZOPFAN, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC in Southeast Asia), and the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Area in Southeast Asia (Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Southeast Asia). Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone/SEANWFZ). Not only that, the Cooperation that has been taking place from ASEAN countries in the political field is the realization of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). ARF is a form of ASEAN’s concern regarding the latest cases in Southeast Asia.

The following is a form of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in the field of politics and security:

a. Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (MLAT).

b. ASEAN Convention on Combating Terrorism (ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism/ACCT).

c. Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) to promote regional peace and stability through dialogue and Cooperation in the defense and security sector.

d. Settlement of South China Sea disputes.

e. Cooperation in the enforcement and elimination of transnational crimes, which includes eradicating terrorism, money laundering, smuggling, drug trafficking, trade in small and human weapons, piracy, internet crimes, and international economic crimes.

f. Cooperation in law, migration & consular affairs, and inter-parliamentary institutions.

2. Forms of ASEAN Cooperation in the Social and Cultural Sector

The main objective of the Cooperation carried out by ASEAN countries in the socio-cultural field is to create harmony and mutual progress. COSD (Committee on Social Development) organizes ASEAN cooperation in the socio-cultural field.

The following is a form of ASEAN cooperation in the socio-cultural field:

a. Social development by emphasizing the welfare of low-income groups, expanding employment opportunities, and reasonable payment (wages);

b. Helping women and youth in development efforts;

c. Tackling the problems of population development by cooperating with the relevant international agencies;

d. Human Resource Development;

e. Welfare improvement;

f. Health promotion program (food and medicine);

g. Cultural and artistic exchanges, as well as ASEAN film festivals;

h. Signing of a joint agreement in the field of ASEAN tourism (ASEAN Tourism Agreement (ATA));

i. Organizing a sports party every two years through the SEA Games.

3. Forms of ASEAN Cooperation in the Field of Education

The forms of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in education so far have always been carried out in bilateral and multilateral arrangements. This Cooperation in the education field is carried out to improve the quality of education in Southeast Asia and increase the international competitiveness of ASEAN member countries.
The following is a form of Cooperation between ASEAN countries in the field of education:

a. ASEAN Council of Teachers Convention (ACT) in Sanur, Denpasar, Saturday (8/12/2012), with the ASEAN Community 2015: Teacher Professionalism for Quality Education and Humanity theme. Teacher organizations from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea attended the largest teacher forum in Southeast Asia.

b. Educational scholarship offers. Singapore has carried out forms of educational Cooperation by providing scholarships for training in airport service management, industrial occupational health and safety, maritime communications, and others. Meanwhile, the conditions of Cooperation that have taken place in Indonesia are scholarships for medical, language, and arts education to students from several ASEAN member countries and developing countries.

c. Students from ASEAN countries use scholarships to study at various campuses in ASEAN countries and Japan using the ASEAN-Japan Scholarship Fund (ASEAN-Japan Scholarship Fund) funds.

d. Olympiads in education are often held at the Southeast Asian regional level. Indonesia through Pertamina was the organizer of the 2015 National Science Olympiad (OSN).

4. Forms of ASEAN Cooperation in the Economic Sector

The Cooperation carried out by ASEAN countries in the economic field has been developing rapidly. The culmination of the success of Cooperation in the economic field was when the leaders of ASEAN countries agreed to form a single market in the Southeast Asian region at the end of 2015. The term is the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

As a form of competition with the rising economies of China and India, the AEC aims to increase and develop ASEAN’s competitiveness in Asian economies. In addition, MEA stands to attract more foreign investment. Southeast Asia still needs foreign investment to boost economic growth, expand employment opportunities, and enhance industrial development.

The actual formation of the MEA is to realize ASEAN economic integration, namely: achieving a safe ASEAN region with a higher and integrated level of development dynamics, alleviation of ASEAN people from poverty, and economic growth to achieve equitable and sustainable prosperity.

AEC has four primary characteristics: a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, equitable economic development, and an area fully integrated with the global economy.

Gradually, the MEA allows countries to sell goods and services to other ASEAN member countries quickly. Not only that, a professional labor market will be initiated, such as doctors, teachers, accountants, engineers, and so on.

Thus, economic activities in production, consumption, and distribution are increasingly widespread and developing freely among ASEAN countries.