The Revitalization Of Asean Role As An Honest Broker
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The Revitalization of ASEAN Role as An Honest Broker in the South China Sea Disputes
ASEAN has played a key role in managing the disputes over the South China Sea (SCS) as part of its commitment to promote peace and stability in the region. The disputes were related to territorial claims over Spratly and Paracel islands and maritime boundaries involving four ASEAN members, namely Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam as well as the People’s Republic of China (and Taiwan). The potential escalation of conflict to open war in the region, due to military build up by China and external intervention by the United States, puts ASEAN into a central position to play its role as an ‘honest broker’ or mediator. The stalemate of discussion over the SCS disputes since the 2012 ASEAN Summit should be an indication for ASEAN to revitalize its role and to start taking serious steps in a diplomatic manner to provide peaceful solution for the conflicts.
Maintaining stability and security has always been ASEAN’s fundamental interest, as any escalated conflicts or war may cause a distraction to the integrity and solidarity of its members and influence political and economic cooperation in the region. The discussions over the SCS disputes have been established between ASEAN and China since the 1990s. As a result, ASEAN signed the ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea in 1992 and the ASEAN-China agreement in 1995, which regulated an obligation to inform