Will ASEAN ever progress beyond being a forum to discuss, and sometimes settle, differences?
In November 2015, the ten Heads of State/Government of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the “Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together” at the 27th ASEAN Summit.
The signing capped off what was a celebration of “the formal establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015” but also served as a vision statement ahead of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.
In a follow-up document titled “ASEAN Community Vision 2025”, an ASEAN community was to be built on two other fronts besides the economic: political-security and socio-cultural. It was effectively a reiteration of ASEAN’s original goals of accelerating economic growth and promoting regional peace.
“It is because of the political stability and security provided by ASEAN that ASEAN has become the economic dynamo that it is today,” says Elizabeth Buensuceso, the Philippines’ permanent representative to ASEAN. “How can you conduct business when regions are in conflict?”