Establishment of ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed on 8 August 1967 when the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand signed the ASEAN Declaration in Bangkok, Thailand. The five countries were represented by the Presidium Minister for Political Affairs and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia Adam Malik, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Narciso R. Ramos, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore S. Rajaratnam and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Thanat Khoman.

“We must now think at two levels. We must think not only of our national interests but posit them against regional interests: that is a new way of thinking about our problems.”
- S Rajaratnam, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, 8 August 1967

Brunei Darussalam subsequently joined the regional grouping on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, to make up the ten Member States of ASEAN.

The Three Pillars of ASEAN Community

The ASEAN Community 2015 is a community of opportunities under three community pillars: Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural. Its launch in 2015 was a historic milestone and a culmination of ASEAN’s resilience and dynamism throughout a journey of nearly half a century, and signalled to the world how ASEAN Member States have come together as one community.

ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC)

To build on what has been constructed over the years in the field of political and security cooperation, ASEAN Leaders have agreed to establish the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC). The APSC aims to ensure the peoples and Member States of ASEAN live in peace with one another and with the world at large in a just, democratic and harmonious environment. 

ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)

The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 is a major milestone in the regional economic integration agenda in ASEAN, offering opportunities in the form of a huge market of US$2.4 trillion and over 630 million people. In 2016, AEC was collectively the third largest economy in Asia and the sixth largest in the world.

ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC)

At the heart of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) is the commitment to create a united community in a caring and sharing society. It aims to lift the quality of life of its peoples through cooperative activities that are people-oriented, people-centred, environmentally friendly, and geared towards the promotion of sustainable development, to face new and emerging challenges in ASEAN.

ASEAN Fundamental Principles

In their relations with one another, the ASEAN Member States have adopted the following fundamental principles, as contained in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of 1976:

  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.

ASEAN Charter

The ASEAN Charter serves as a firm foundation in achieving the ASEAN Community by providing legal status and institutional framework for ASEAN. It also codifies ASEAN norms, rules and values; sets clear targets for ASEAN; and presents accountability and compliance.

The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. A gathering of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers was held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta to mark this very historic occasion for ASEAN.

The ASEAN Charter provides a legal framework and allowed ASEAN to establish a number of new organs and boost its community-building process.

Click here to find out more about the ASEAN Charter.

ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEAN Secretariat was set up in February 1976 in Jakarta, Indonesia, by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN.

The ASEAN Secretariat’s mission is to initiate, facilitate and coordinate ASEAN stakeholder collaboration in realising the purposes and principles of ASEAN as reflected in the ASEAN Charter.

 Click here to find out more about the ASEAN Secretariat.