Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

ASEAN Concord II: Policy Prospects for Participant Regional "Development"

Academic journal article Contemporary Southeast Asia

ASEAN Concord II: Policy Prospects for Participant Regional "Development"

Article excerpt

With the ASEAN Concord H in late 2003, Southeast Asia charted an ambitious path towards creating a Community founded on economic, security and socio-cultural "pillars". But the ASEAN agenda remains highly voluntaristic, though there has been some progress in shaping an ASEAN Economic Community agenda, in part driven by strong Singaporean and Thai interests. This apparent "policy gap" can be viewed as a strategic ambiguity that will allow member states to engage in the Community at their own level of capability, either via a two-tier approach of differential integration or via a notion of creative exemption. Current debates on human security and the meaning of development are two related areas which could be utilized to strengthen the ASEAN dynamic. A genuinely inclusive developmental strategy that would create a sustainable ASEAN socio-cultural community, bucked by extended models of economic regionalism and a comprehensive security order, have yet to be devised. These are the missing foundations of ASEAN's Concord II. Nevertheless, the lengthy period for implementation of Concord II as a whole (2020) indicates a realistic assessment of the challenges involved.

Introduction: The Context of ASEAN Concord II

With a new ASEAN Concord II agreed to in late 2003. Southeast Asia has charted an ambitious path towards creating an ASEAN Community founded on economic, security and socio-cultural pillars. It also speaks of a "concert" of Southeast Asian nations, thus explicitly mobilizing a term pregnant with overtones from a period in 19th century diplomacy (The Concert of Europe, c. 1815-53) when major European powers were able to chart a period of relative peace and international stability. The notion of an emerging "concert of powers" was applied to Northeast Asia in the late 1990s, but did not imply that a truly multilateral security community had yet evolved:

   On some views, the increasing complexity and reciprocity of the
   relations between the powers are signs that a regional concert is
   emerging. To the extent that this is a pluralized concert, with no
   one power or coalition of powers dominant, this may be considered
   a stabilizing trend. Yet concerts, especially those based on less
   than transparent personal diplomacy, have their limits. They may
   exclude the interests of smaller powers. Often focused on narrow
   conceptions of security and national interest, they may not address
   matters of concern to the populations of states, from environmental
   degradation to human rights: they may even function as implicit
   compacts which legitimate potentially destructive policies such as
   weapons possession, or acquisition. These limitations suggest that
   broader multilateral security structures are required at least as a
   complement, even while it is apparent that without a concert in some
   form as a precondition they could not be brought into being. By
   definition, such structures are more inclusive, both of state actors
   and of interests. In the post-Cold War environment, in which a range
   of regimes are operating with the objective of regulating state
   behaviour and stipulating goals and standards for state policy, they
   are more likely to address these limitations. (1)

Though the terminology of Concord II seemed reminiscent of the European Union's use of its four pillar programme, (2) these terms need to be positioned against the limited institutional integration, dialogue process, and open regionalism that has been at the core of ASEAN development for over three decades. The original three pillars of the EU were the European Community (based on the Treaty of Rome), the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and cooperation in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs, but from 1998 there has been a serious effort to extend this to a fourth pillar of a strong and inclusive European Defence Initiative (EDI), including the creation a permanent European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF), which can back up elements of its foreign policy. …

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