Wednesday, August 08, 2007

ASEAN is 40, So What?

Don't celebrations commence during the Jubilee year? So why, honestly, would there be any reason for the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations to start at a time when it is 40 years old?

The reason for the celebration has everything to do with ASEAN's Charter!

In my previous post, I talked about how ASEAN would have succeeded where a more-developed bloc, like the EU, would have failed. It goes deeper, though. This ASEAN Charter, predicated very much on a rules-based and human rights-based set of principles would help strengthen the 10-member grouping, and probably make it more relevant for its contemporaries. As one might expect, Myanmar is not very keen.

It might probably be very happy that, as Channelnewsasia reports:

there is no consensus on the commission's scope, how it will operate or even when it will start

Evidently, the ts have to be crossed, anad the I's dotted -- particularly because ASEAN hopes tha, with this charter, it can transform itself into "a community with economic security and socio-cultural pillars by 2015".

I am very happy to read that ASEAN is not seeking all-out to emulate the European experience, and remaining mindful that other continents, like the AU and Latin American countries also have it, albeit in limited forms:

ASEAN should understand the European experience without idolising or aping it. After all, other regional human rights mechanisms exist in the Americas and Africa but work in more limited ways. In many cases, rather than emphasising court-like procedures, the systems give ample room for political negotiation and compromise.

But, let this not sound like I am being too pig-headed about the comparative approaches I have advocated before. I simply feel that in order for any serious analysis to take place on the state of regional integration in 2007, such approaches are more than critical.

I hope that the perfect does not become the enemy of the good. Judging by comments like below, one begins to wonder:

ASEAN may, similarly, begin its human rights initiative more modestly, while holding out the possibility of stronger mechanisms in the future. Where can ASEAN best begin?

The best place to begin is in the beginning! At least a charter is being chalked; the rest of the tweaking will needs take place.

Whilst all that tweaking takes place, other articles on the web, such as those by one Bunn Nagara, of the Malaysian Star newspaper are looking at the existentialist nature of ASEAN: where has it come from, and where is it heading.

He attempts at a description of ASEAN in the light of the new development of the proposed charter here:

Encouraged by economic policy harmonisation in a globalised world, some policy harmonisation in governance seemed desirable for regional cohesiveness.

The proposed Asean charter was supposed to cover human rights, as current chair Philippines had hoped, but collective assent through consensus found only nominal approval for a proposed regional rights watchdog.

I like that: regional cohesiveness.

It's something that some of the other Southern regionalisms in the AU, for example, could begin to reflect over!

Kudos to ASEAN!

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