After realising the grave consequences of the Cold War, effort was made to establish peace in South-East Asia. Trial was also made for economic co-operation among the countries of South-East Asia.
As a result of that effort, the ‘ASEAN’ was formed in 1967. This organisation is playing a leading role in various fields of South-East Asia.
The alarming situation in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Burma prompted the South-East Asian countries to be united. As per the ‘Bangkok Declaration’ of 1967, the five countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand formed ‘Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) on 8 August, 1967.
Later on, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia joined this organisation. Now the number of the member countries of ASEAN is ten. India is trying its best to be a member of ASEAN which may be fulfilled in near future.
The ASEAN is a well-organised organisation. It has a Permanent Secretariat. The Headquarters of the ASEAN is located at Jakarta in Indonesia. Its ‘Permanent Committee’ is located in Singapore. It has eight adhoc committees. Besides, it has ten ‘Special Committees’, viz. Navigation, Trade and Tourism, Industrial Minerals and Energy, Food, Agriculture and forestry Finance and Banking, Science and Technology; social development, etc.
The Ministers Conference is held when the Foreign Ministers of the Member nations meet together. It has a court of Justice. Its members are appointed for a period of six years. The court ensures the observance of rule of law of the member countries.
Aims and Objectives:
In the Summit of ASEAN at Bali in 1976, the aims and objectives of this Organisation were clearly spelt out.
Accordingly, the ASEAN has adopted the following aims and objectives:
1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development of the region.
2. To promote regional peace and stability.
3. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest.
4. To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facility in the field of educational, technical and administrative fields.
5. To promote South-East Asian Studies.
6. To collaborate for greater utilisation of their agriculture and industries and expansion of trade.
7. To maintain close and beneficial co-operation with existing regional and international organisations for excellence indifferent fields.
With the march of time, the ASEAN has undertaken many activities. Those activities have earned popularity for ASEAN.
At first, the member nations of ASEAN are trying to make their own country progressive by the help of one another. This has enhanced prestige and co-operation for each other.
Secondly, this is helping the member nations to gain political minority. The Foreign Ministers in different summits are discussing about economic progress, trade and commerce, environment, urban development, development of NGOs etc. These discussions influence each other in accepting concrete steps in these fields.
Thirdly, the Principle of equality has made ASEAN great. All the member nations are equal before the ASEAN. Nobody can dominate in the meeting. The member, of this organisation is prepared to solve every problem through discussion.
Fourthly, in 1994 ‘ASEAN Regional Forum’ (ARF) has been formed. This has created an atmosphere of trust, purity and creativity which binds the member countries together.
Fifthly, in 1997 the ASEAN has taken new step in economic field. I he members have formed ‘ASEAN Free Trade Area’ (AFTA). By this, trade and commerce have been galvanised. The ASEAN Countries have tried to bring economic reforms by co-operation among each other.
Sixthly, by crossing regional barriers, the ASEAN Countries are now maintaining relation with America and Latin America. By the effort of ASI AN, the ‘Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality’ (ZOPFAN) has been mated. It is also trying for ‘Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation’ (APEC), and ‘Asia-Europe Meeting’ (ASEM). Thus, in the twenty-first Century, the ASEAN is going to play a vital role.
Seventhly, now the ASEAN is now establishing good relation with countries like China, Japan and South Korea. By this step, the ASEAN is creating new avenues for its member countries.
Eighthly, the ASEAN is undertaking many voluntary programmes. The NGOs, leaders, industrialisation and common people are being attracted towards its popular programmes. It aims at realising its goal by 2020.
Last but not least, the ASEAN wants the co-operation of public in its activities. Further, it aims at the development of human resources of its countries. It also wants to put an end to poverty.
By evaluating the works of ASEAN, it can be stated that from the very beginning it was dormant. It made little progress in regional cooperation. After 1975, it underwent transformation and galvanised its activities. New resolutions were adopted in different meetings held at Bali and Mahila. It has adopted certain principles in choosing members. It fights against poverty, illeteracy, blockade in case of trade and commerce etc.
It has adopted globalisation and information technology (IT). It is determined today to promote scientific research and culture. The resources of the ASEAN are scanty. However, it cannot be an impediment on the way of the ASEAN. Hopefully, success will kiss its feet after a decade or two.
Now everybody has cast its glance on the progress of ASEAN. The world is evaluating its achievements. The steps taken by ASEAN for the progress of this region are going to be successful. At any one decade of the twenty-first century, the ASEAN may reach the pinnacle of glory.