[International Institutions] ASEAN-Association of Southeast Asian Nations

ASEAN-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Important Institutions UPSC

What is ASEAN?

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia, which promotes inter-governmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational and socio-cultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.
  • The ASEAN Secretariat is located atJakarta, Indonesia.
  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • It is established in 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration)by its founding fathers. 
  • Founding Fathers of ASEAN are:Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annuallybased on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • The supreme policy making body of ASEAN is ASEAN Summit.
  • As the highest level of authority in ASEAN, the Summit sets the direction for ASEAN policies and objectives. Under the Charter, the Summit meets twice a year.

Member Nations

(Trick to Remember-


T= Thailand V= Vietnam C= Cambodia L=Laos I=Indonesia P=Philippines M= Malaysia B– Burma (Myanmar) B=Brunei S= Singapore.


B=Brunai, P=Philipines, L=Lavos, T=Thailand, V=Vietnam, M=Malaysia, I=Indonesia, M=Mynamar, C=Combodia, S=Singapore

ASEAN Countries - WorldAtlas












  1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours.
  2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law.
  3. To encourage active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest
  4. To study the problems of international community trade, the improvement of their transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of the nations.
  5. To promote Southeast Asian studies.
  6. To maintain close and positive co-operation with existing international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.


1.Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;

2.The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion;

3.Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

4.Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;

5.Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and

6.Effective cooperation among themselves.

Principle of ASEAN-X

This means that if all member states are in agreement, a formula for flexible participation may be used so that the members who are ready may go ahead while members who need more time for implementation may apply a flexible timeline.

ASEAN-led Forums

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF): 

  • Launched in 1993, the twenty-seven-member multilateral grouping was developed to facilitate cooperation on political and security issues to contribute to regional confidence-building and preventive diplomacy.

ASEAN Plus Three: 

  • The consultative group initiated in 1997 brings together ASEAN’s ten members, China, Japan, and South Korea.

East Asia Summit (EAS): 

  • First held in 2005, the summit seeks to promote security and prosperity in the region and is usually attended by the heads of state from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. ASEAN plays a central role as the agenda-setter.


ASEAN commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually.

  • It constitutes 3rd largest population in the world, of which more than half is below thirty years of age.
  • 3rdlargest market in the world larger than EU and North American markets.
  • 6thlargest economyin the world, 3rd in Asia.
  • Free-trade agreements (FTAs)with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Fourth most popular investment destinationglobally.
  • Home to more than 600 million people, the region has a larger population than the European Union or North America.
  • It also has the third-largest labour force in the world, behind China and India.
  • ASEAN is the world’sthird largest recipientof foreign direct investment (FDI).


  • Regional imbalances in the economic and social status of its individual markets.
  • The emphasis on consensus sometimes becomes the a chief drawback.
  • There is no central mechanism to enforce compliance.
  • Gap between rich and poor ASEAN member states remains very large and they have a mixed record on income inequality.
  • The members’ political systems are equally mixed with democracies, communist, and authoritarian states.
  • Inefficient dispute-settlement mechanism, whether it be in the economic or political spheres.
  • While the South China Sea is the main issue exposing the organization’s rifts.
  • ASEAN has been divided over major issues of human rights. For example, crackdowns in Myanmar against the Rohingyas.
  • Inability to negotiate a unified approach with regards to China, particularly in response to its widespread maritime claims in the South China Sea.


  • India’s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of her foreign policy and the foundation of Act East Policy.
  • India and ASEAN already has 25 years of Dialogue Partnership, 15 years of Summit Level interaction and 5 years of Strategic Partnership with ASEAN.
  • India has a separate Mission to ASEAN and the EAS in Jakarta.
  • India places ASEAN at the centre of its Indo-Pacific vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region.
  • India has an annual Track 1.5 event Delhi Dialogue, for discussing politico-security and economic issues between ASEAN and India.
  • ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner.
  • People-to-People Interaction with ASEAN, such as inviting ASEAN students to India each year for the Students Exchange Programme, Special Training Course for ASEAN diplomats, Exchange of Parliamentarians,
  • India has made considerable progress in implementing the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project
  • India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam / Protocol of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)

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