Good evening, my name is Teguh Santosa. I am a lecturer from Islam State University in Jakarta, Indonesia.
I am thanking you for the opportunity given to me to present the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and the fruit of multilateralism practiced by the ASEAN since the very beginning of its foundation.
ASEAN is one of the most stable and dynamic regional organization that I believe can be a good model for other regions in the world.
It is formed in 8 August 1967 by five founding members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines.
In its development, other countries in the region felt the benefits and importance of ASEAN, and therefore joined the organization. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.
With more than 650 million people, the ASEAN economy is relatively huge, and by that ASEAN becomes one of the top destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI).
The ASEAN economy grew 4.6 percent in 2019, remaining close to the average growth of 5 percent from 2015 to 2018.
ASEAN’s trade in 2019 is almost 3,000 billion US dollar. It is made from Intra-ASEAN trade (22.5 percent), China (18 percent), the United States (10.5 percent), and the European Union (10 percent).
In the same year, inflows of FDI rebounded by 4.9 percent compared to 2018.
Among external partners, the US contributed the largest FDI inflow with 15 percent, followed by Japan (12.7 percent) and the European Union (10 percent). Meanwhile intra-ASEAN FDI is around 14 percent.
Due to the of Covid-19 pandemic the region’s economy in 2020 experienced a contraction by 2.7 percent.
Nevertheless, in 2021a quick recovery of 5.2 percent growth is expected.
The above performance, I should say, is the result of the objective of ASEAN which are:
(1) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and
(2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Because of its unique geographical location, which is located between two oceans and two continents, Southeast Asia has long been a crossroads and meeting point for various civilizations in the world, and various interests of power and wealth of nations in other parts of the world.
However, as I said earlier, since its establishment until today, despite the various problems that still remain between ASEAN countries on a bilateral basis, in general the mechanisms adopted by ASEAN can maintain organizational integrity and regional peace.
Colonization of Western nations is part of ASEAN’s history, and this fact has made ASEAN members realize that the colonization of one nation by another is something that should be strongly rejected.
Therefore, ASEAN implements a tight and friendly dialogue mechanism in efforts to resolve the problems that exist between them.
It is called a miracle of ASEAN.
It is miracle because that the ten member countries of ASEAN actually are divers in term of many things.
Some of them are republic countries and some others are monarchies.
Some practice presidential system, and some practice parliamentarian system.
There are democratic states in ASEAN, socialist states, and also military junta.
In term of state division there are unitary states and there are federalist states.
Nevertheless, apart from the unique and different political formations of each ASEAN member, one thing is certain that ASEAN member countries believe in multilateralism.
The decision-making process is based on consideration of common interests without neglecting national interests.
The approach of peace and harmony is a shared spirit that is always carried out in every forum.
Therefore, unilateralism or jingoism by itself has no place in the organizational practice of this region.
The spirit of anti- unilateralism is the main value in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, which was signed at the First ASEAN Summit on 24 February 1976.
The TAC principles are:
- Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations.
- The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion.
- Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.
- Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner.
- Renunciation of the threat or use of force.
- Effective cooperation among themselves.
As an organization that practices respect for the independence and sovereignty of other nations, it is also easy for ASEAN to open itself to the offers from various international organizations that promise the same approach.
We see that ASEAN itself is active in establishing relations and cooperation with many regions. Such as the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Rio Group, the South Asian Association for Cooperation, and the South Pacific Forum.
ASEAN is also open to establishing forums involving other countries outside the region such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Plus 3.
Almost all ASEAN member countries participate in cross-regional organizations such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asian-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the Asia-Latin America Forum (EALAF).
Seeing what ASEAN has done and developed to maintain regional peace and stability, I believe that the ASEAN model, of course with some accompanying notes, is one that can be relied upon and can be used as an example for other regions.