- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is a regional & intergovernmental organisation of 10 countries of southeast Asia.
- ASEAN was established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration).
- Its members are Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam.
- The organisation aims to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership. They work towards the progress of the southeast Asia region.
- The group has played a central role in Asian economic integration, signing free trade deals with other regional economies.
- In 2020, ASEAN members joined Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea in signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement in the works since 2012.
- Yet experts say ASEAN’s impact is limited by a lack of strategic vision, diverging priorities among member states, and weak leadership. One of the bloc’s biggest challenges is developing a unified approach to China, particularly in response to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
- In recent months, a primary challenge for ASEAN has been developing a response to the 2021 coup in Myanmar. The junta has violently suppressed protests, and the conflict with opposition forces has escalated into civil war. Yet the bloc’s response has been limited due to internal divisions.
Why in News?
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders have called for an immediate end to all forms of violence and the use of force in Myanmar.
- Expressing deep concern about the ongoing violence in Myanmar, the ASEAN leaders in a statement issued urging to create a conducive environment for the safe and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance and inclusive national dialogues.
- It sought to encourage progress in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.
- The Five Point consensus reached between ASEAN and the Myanmar military government in April 2021 called for an end to all violence. However, Myanmar has not implemented the five-point consensus.