The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Essay

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Formed in the mid-1960s by five anti-Communist states, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) serves the Southeast Asia (SEA) region as a multilateral institution with the primary responsibility of promoting social and economic cooperation among its members and maintaining peace in the region. ASEAN is quite unique in that it is built upon a cultural respect for the authority of individual nations to control what goes on within their boarders with little complaint or judgement by those on the outside, or even within ASEAN. The decision making process of the group requires complete consensus or ‘mufakat’ before any decision or action is taken by the Association.
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The initial expansion of ASEAN, as discussed below, was for the purpose of furthering the political and security desires of member states. Today’s efforts to expand ASEAN also seek to security and political stability, but the potential for increased trade and economic stability is a major consideration. As this paper will show, ASEAN should take care in future expansions unless it is prepared to manage the potential instituation instabilities resulting from continued economic incongruencies and other management impediments resulting from a larger ASEAN.

Initial Expansion of ASEAN
ASEAN’s initial five members were Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In the 1990’s, ASEAN sought to expand its membership as the result of relatively normalized relations in the region, therefore seeking to include Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia. Cambodia was the last member to join in 1999 due to its internal instabilities that ASEAN was unprepared to deal with. The initial expansion of ASEAN was the result of the “gradual rapprochement between the ASEAN members and Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Vietnam respectively.” (Amer 1999, 1038)

The initial drivers for the initial expansion of ASEAN were political and security related. Economic benefits were in the minds of the new members, but this was not a key driver in the initial expansion in
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