ASEAN institutionalisation : the function of political values and state capacity
Date of Issue2010
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Various proposals for an “ASEAN Community” (e.g. Bali Concord II) have committed ASEAN to establish a more institutionalised organisation with the capacity to guide substantive “political and security cooperation”. Such an outcome would evidence well-developed levels of trust, interest harmonisation and foreign policy coordination. This paper analyses how state weakness and divergent political values represent the biggest challenge to these outcomes. While state weakness detracts from regional security and cohesion (e.g. Myanmar), divergent political values lead to divisions over the manner and extent to which the ASEAN members can and will cooperate in relation to both domestic and regional issues. State weakness also generates internal security dilemmas that detract from regionalists enterprises (e.g. post-Suharto Indonesia). Nonetheless, economic cooperation has been relatively more feasible for all the ASEAN members as it has the potential to enhance domestic stability and (for the less democratic members) it can also provide added regime security through “performance legitimacy”. Finally, the capacity gaps and divergence of political values currently extant in the region mean that ASEAN will remain a mutual sovereignty-reinforcing (intergovernmental) model of regional organisation for the foreseeable future. While ASEAN may achieve incremental progress towards the realisation of its regionalist goals, policy makers should plan for a multi-decade approach rather than the current goal of achieving an “ASEAN Community”— particularly the “Security Community” and “Socio-Cultural Community” pillars—by 2015.
RSIS Working Paper ; 217/10