Regional Security in Southeast Asia: Beyond the ASEAN Way

By Mely Caballero-Anthony | Go to book overview

3
ASEAN AND THE
CAMBODIAN CONFLICT
Testing the Limits of the ASEAN Way

INTRODUCTION

The previous chapter discussed ASEAN's embryonic mechanisms of conflict management, which the organization had developed over the years since its inception. While it can be said that these mechanisms have proved successful in dealing with certain inter-state conflicts, assessing the effectiveness of these mechanisms in other types of conflicts, particularly if they are extramural and external to the grouping have to be qualified. As emphasized in the earlier chapter, the effectiveness of certain mechanisms would depend largely on the nature of the conflict and the kind of objectives set out to resolve the conflict. In this regard, ASEAN's role in the resolution of the Cambodian conflict best exemplified the limitations of its mechanisms as it attempted to manage an external conflict involving neighbours, Cambodia and Vietnam, that at that time were not yet part of the ASEAN grouping.

In describing ASEAN as a conflict manager in the region, Muthiah Alagappa had noted that ASEAN did not actually envisage conflict prevention, containment, and termination roles with regard to external conflicts. Instead, what it had hoped to achieve was for its proposals for peace and security to cover all of Southeast Asia. Hence, ASEAN's conflict prevention measures specifically had not applied to non-ASEAN Southeast Asia.1 In this regard, ASEAN's involvement in the Cambodian conflict offers interesting insights on examining the extent to which its mechanisms had been useful or inadequate in the search for the political settlement to the conflict. To appreciate the extent and limits of ASEAN's modalities, one must be able to track the various initiatives that member states of the grouping undertook throughout the duration of the Cambodian conflict. This chapter will, therefore, begin with a somewhat

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