Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order

Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order

Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order

Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order

Synopsis

This book contains the most comprehensive and critical account available of the evolution of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) strategy. The first serious investigation of this issue, this title also presents a contemporary critique of the viability of the ASEAN way of conflict management. Key issues in determining the future stability of the Southeast Asian and Asia Pacific region are covered, including:* the effect of expansion* the application of the ASEAN model of conflict management to the wider Asia Pacific region* territorial disputes in the South China Sea* domestic instability in Burma and Cambodia* military acquisitions on intra-regional relations.

Excerpt

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has enjoyed a mixed institutional experience since its advent in August 1967. The past three decades and more have seen the Association manage intra-mural tensions with some success and also act as a diplomatic community speaking with a single voice during the course of the Cambodian conflict. Since the end of the Cold War, ASEAN has assumed a diplomatic centrality within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ART) but has also faced evident difficulties in sustaining collective consensus as a result of the impact of regional economic crisis and an enlargement of membership to coincide with geographic Southeast Asia, exempting East Timor. Professor Amitav Acharya has drawn on this mixed institutional experience to address the subject of constructing a security community. At issue in this volume is what kind of model does ASEAN provide for confronting the problem of regional order identified in the sub-title? Professor Acharya has taken as his intellectual point of reference the concept of ‘Constructivism’, whereby cooperation among states is understood as a social process that can have a positive, and even transforming, effect on their relations through internalising regulatory norms. Indeed, he is a member of the academic school that maintains that norms can have a life of their own and are capable of influencing the behaviour of states so that they come to share a common habit of peaceful conduct.

Professor Acharya is exceptionally well qualified to address this subject and its regional context. He has acquired a wealth of regional field experience and also has established a prodigious record of scholarship combining theoretical perspectives with empirical data. In this volume, he examines and assesses the merits of ‘the ASEAN Way’ and whether or not the nascent security community is in the ascendant. He sets ASEAN’s institutional experience within a structured framework of enquiry, which serves not only as a basis for a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the Association but also as a vehicle for the wider comparative analysis of regional organisations. In the process, he takes the study of ASEAN beyond an account of its historical record. The attendant intellectual appeal extends beyond specialists in Southeast Asian security to the wider community of students of regional and international security.

Michael Leifer

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