Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General
Surin Pitsuwan, Ph.D., speaks on the evolution of
ASEAN 41 years ago out of a shared vision for peace,
stability, security and prosperity in the region.
He describes how it gave rise to other architectures
of cooperation such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
and Asia-Europe Meeting. These have led to greater
collaboration with the international community.
the Democratic Agenda in Asia
However in the face of growing global competition
from China and India, ASEAN has to become more relevant.
It has thus created a charter to respond to the challenges
of the region. He explains that this will give ASEAN
a legal personality and consolidate the collection
of diverse countries into a successful community.
Dr. Pitsuwan admits that the charter could be better
in allowing more participation and promotion of human
rights. He agrees that we expect more from ASEAN,
but argues that this is a start. The price of democracy
and liberal values in the region is vigilance and
support for an existing structure. In order for ASEAN
to deliver the values of individual freedom, rule
of law and good governance, it has to be strong and
significant. The first step is to ratify the charter.
Six countries have already endorsed the charter.
The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar are
still reviewing it.
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