Supra-National Organizations: the Case of Asean

————————————————- (B) Supra-national Organizations Choose ONE specific supra-national organization (not necessarily from the above list) and discuss the following issues (these are only random suggestion. You may define your own. (i) What is the nature of this organization? Who are its members? (ii) What influence does it have on your own country? (iii) What influence does it have on other nations? Supra-national Nature Supranational organizations are international bodies that have power and influence that transcend national boundaries and are usually formed by members that share geographical proximity.

The first notion of supranationalism surfaced in 1951 during the Treaty of Paris, which eventually became the founding stone for the European Union. In light of rapid globalization, deregulation and privatizations, there is little wonder why so many more supranational organizations have formed in the past 60 years. Examples of newer supranational organizations are the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2008 and the African Union in 2002, where member countries group together to achieve common economic, political or cultural goals.

This paper will examine the case of ASEAN -a supranational nation that is made up of all the Southeastern Asian Countries with the exception of recently independent Timor Leste. The study of ASEAN will be split into studying its emergence and history coupled with the impact that it has had on individual member countries and the world at large in hopes of giving a holistic and objective view of the effectiveness of ASEAN as a supranational organization.

This paper will also analyze the cultural impacts of Southeast Asian influences and how this has shaped and molded the practices and relationships within ASEAN as compared to Western Supranational organizations such as the European Union. ASEAN: the beginning ASEAN was founded on the 9th of August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN declaration by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN in 1984, six days after gaining independence, Viet Nam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and its newest member, Cambodia in 1999.

One unifying factor other than geographical proximity that ASEAN countries had in common was the intrusion of Western colonial powers and their domination in all Southeast Asian countries apart from Thailand. The long period of colonial rule meant that under colonial tutelage, the underlying legal and administrative systems and development of each country was vastly different. Individuals in each country were trained to serve their colonial masters and inter-regional cooperation was virtually unheard of.

This political condition however gradually changed with the onset of WWII and the decline of Western Supremacy, which fostered a spirit of political awareness and yearning for independence in Southeast Asia. The struggle for independence within Southeast Asia was different in each country; the Philippines had to fight against Spain and subsequently America for liberation whereas Malaya, which was made up of Singapore and Malaysia, had a relatively more peaceful agreement with their British colonial masters. The price for independence came largely though ideological revolutions, insurgencies coupled with internal tensions and civil strife.

This contributed greatly to the turbulent post-war conditions among Southeast Asian nations. Conflict was usually internalized within newly independent nations however there was also some friction between neighboring countries in the region. One example of this was the Konfrantasi between Indonesia and Malaysia, where Indonesia sent military forces to hijack and harm citizens in Malaysia due to conflict over the territories of British north Borneo. The need for coming together was evident amidst tensions of the cold war and the rise of military power of the Soviet Republic and the Peoples Republic of China.

This need for a sense of regional consciousness was also highlighted in the formation of the Asian and Pacific Council (ASPAC) in 1996 and the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) in 1961 and Maphilindo in 1963. The formation of ASEAN was not an easy one and even when incepted, the concept of political observers scoffed at ASEAN as they found it unfeasible to unify a region marred by war and intra-regional conflict. The failure of earlier supranational organizing was proof to the wistful thinking of leaders. What was more unbelievable was that leaders of these independent sovereign states with disparate historical experiences ould have the political will to come over to overcome their suspicions and latent hostilities. The possibility of an effective supranational organization within Southeast Asia did not take off till 1966 where the Konfrantasi was ended between Malaysia and Indonesia. Further to this, Malaysia also resolved her problems with Singapore when the two countries formally separated in 1965. A change in the Philippine government also improved ties between the Philippines and Malaysia. These favorable developments coupled with the escalating war in Vietnam were the main contributing factors that led to the formation of ASEAN in 1966.

ASEAN: declaration The ASEAN Declaration was signed by all five foreign founding ministers which states that all members should be guided by the four basic principle which are the respect or sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, settlement of disputes by peaceful means, and renunciation of the threat or use of force. The aims and purposes of ASEAN were for economic growth coupled with social and cultural understanding to foster a region of peace and harmony.

It also provided a platform for information sharing in collaboration, training and research. ASEAN also aimed to improve the living conditions of member countries and to serve as a springboard for cooperation with larger international organizations. The declaration is a simple two page document that outlines the manner in which ASEAN members should communicate and deal with each other and focuses heavily on the means of doing things and does not stipulate an explicit outcome. The ASEAN declaration functioned for four decades without the need for a formal charter.

Although ASEAN herself has concluded numerous formal agreements, ASEAN has largely relied on informal arrangements, implicit understandings and personal relationships in honing its political solidarity, economic growth and cooperation within the region. The norms that bolster ASEAN include the principle of seeking agreement and harmony, the principle of sensitivity, politeness and non-confrontation and agreeability. Further to this, ASEAN champions the principle of quiet, private and elitist diplomacy versus public washing of dirty linen and the principal of being non-Cartesian.

ASEAN: regional effectiveness This mode of communication has come under serious castigation by Western political observes as ASEAN’s policy of non-intervention undermines its status as a supranational entity. They however fail to see that the manner of politics in Southeast Asia is to a large extent personalistic, informal and non-contractual. (Goh, 115) and that the running of ASEAN is simply an extension of this norm. Unlike the Western world, Southeast Asia has never experienced an equivalent to Roman law nor experienced a formal and legalistic systemization to local politics.

Elite circles that operated on the basis of patronage networks ruled many states in Southeast Asia and this phenomenon has further contributed to institutionalizing a highly private and informal political culture within the region. Another manner in which regional culture comes into play is the manner in which ASEAN decides on issues based on consensus and not on votes. This does not mean that every motion has to be categorically and explicitly supported, but it does mean that there can be no violent opposition to a motion before it can be passed.

An example of how the non-interventional means work in Southeast Asia is the manner in which ASEAN took a leading role in bringing about he political settlement of the Cambodian conflict of 1979-1991. In order to force Vietnam to pull out of Cambodia, ASEAN mobilized the international community and Security Council to isolate the country economically and diplomatically without the need for violence. They accomplished this by blocking the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) from obtaining the Cambodian seat at the United Nations and thus prevented them form being the legitimate government of Cambodia.

Further to this, they also stymied India’s efforts in leaving the Cambodian seat in the UN open, thus ensuring that the seat remained firmly with the Khmer Rouge. Even when the Khmer Rouge declared a boycott of elections that was against ASEAN’s wishes, ASEAN simply urged them to “live up to the spirit of national reconciliation for the sake of Cambodia’s sovereignty, independence, integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity”.

Many saw this as a feeble response to open defiance by Cambodia, however ASEAN did more than this, by decisively blocking Cambodia’s entrance into ASEAN till she agreed to hold free and democratic elections. Further to this, an ASEAN troika led by regional foreign ministers joined the “Friends of Cambodia” group to mediate the situation and many ASEAN nations assisted Cambodia in the technical preparations for the election. Here we can see that the non-provocative method of dealing with members can be effective and that the avoidance of military conflict can help in engendering peace and stability in the region.

ASEAN: in Singapore Singapore has grown from a poor underdeveloped country to be the most robust and developed economy with the Southeast Asian community since its independence in 1965. Singapore’s successful economic transformation is largely due to the government’s belief in economic development in encouraging free trade and foreign direct investments. It is hence unsurprising that Singapore’s membership in ASEAN has allowed her to propel her interest in free trade within the region in creating the ASEAN free trade area (AFTA) in 1993.

The AFTA is deemed to have been effective with the six original signatories bringing down their taffies on 99. 6% of the stipulated products to the 0-5% level. Apart from this ASEAN has also provided a platform for countries to sign bilateral treaties with each other, to complement the AFTA in overcoming problems such as slow integration of markets and economies or in areas where member countries cannot meet the stipulated tariffs. Apart from explicit economic benefits Singapore has also enjoyed much political peace and stability from the creation of ASEAN.

While ASEAN prides itself in being a nuclear-weapon free zone and an advocate of non-violent negotiations, a latent level of friction still exists within the region. Singapore has had longstanding problems with Malaysia over the supply of their water and even territorial disputes over the small island of Pedra Branca. Channels such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) have greatly increased the interaction and understanding among members such that all regional conflicts can be handled diplomatically without violence.

This is extremely advantageous for Singapore as it has no hinterland to depend on and is largely vulnerable to external pressures. Further to this, Muslim countries surround Singapore and the presence of ASEAN has greatly aided in protecting the nation’s security and stability despite the onslaught of racial terrorism by Muslims. The combined effort that led to the capture JI leader Mas Selamaat is a fine example how ASEAN promotes cooperation that transcends religion within the region.

ASEAN & the World ASEAN does not only function regionally but is the key platform in which Southeast Asia relates to the rest of the world. One of ASEAN’s most extensive external linkages is the ASEAN+3 forum that involves China, Japan and South Korea. The East Asia Summit includes ASEAN members together with Australia, China, India, Japan Korea and New Zealand in a leaders led regional forum where ASEAN serves as a hub and driver for international dialogue with the rest of the world.

The ASEAN system of Dialogue partnership serves as a channel for ASEAN as an entity to forge strong cooperative ties with major power and trading partners such as the EU, to pry open markets and opportunities for all countries belonging to the two supranational organizations. This form of negotiation is not only less messy, but also serves as a more effective and efficient means of coming to decisions and benefits smaller and weaker economies that do not have bargaining power of their own. ASEAN is also closely linked to the United Nations, which heavily advised on the Cambodian issue in terms of dealing with refugees.

ASEAN also frequently consults with the World Health Organization (WHO) in terms of preventing the spread of SARS and the more recent swine flu epidemic. ASEAN: 2015 & Beyond ASEAN has come a long way since her shaky inception however many still criticize her in terms of failing to meet the objectives of improving the quality of life in member countries. Furthermore, the rise of India and China has greatly impacted the export market of low-income ASEAN economies especially with the onset of the sub-prime crisis in 2008 which greatly shook demand.

Three sections, no charters just a underlying contract that is similar to they want a relationship not a black and white clause that can be found in the US. In the four decades of ASEAN’s existence, it has operated without a formal charter. Although it had concluded a few formal agreements, ASEAN has largely relied on informal arrangements, implicit understandings and personal relationships in moving forward in its political solidarity, its economic integration and its cooperation in many areas. In December 2005,

ASEAN’s leaders decided that it was time for ASEAN to adopt a charter “embodying fundamental principles, goals and objectives and structures of ASEAN cooperation capable of meeting the needs of the ASEAN community”. to make it more credible and efficient its objectives clearer and it institutions stronger and more effective, as well as confer on the association a legal personality separate from its member-states. ASEAN decides by consensus not by taking a vote. (kiasu 41) The ASEAN way p114 non-cartesian Usually 115 no roman beauracracy Don’t believe in embargos or intervention ASEAN: in action alk about ASEAN+3 etc scheme not very credible because of Myanmar, they still don’t believe in the power of ASEAN talk about Cambodia verus Haiti, must know how to deal within the region. Its about relationships “The ability of Asean to realize change and remain relevant to the community will continually be tested, as the region and world are undergoing a period of dynamic change” -President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in celebration of Asean’s 44th birthday on the 8th of August 2011 (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) beyond the authority or jurisdiction of one national government

October 13, 2017