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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand,

with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July
1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.


As set out in the ASEAN Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are:

1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint
endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and
peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;
2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the
relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;
3. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social,
cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;
4. To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational,
professional, technical and administrative spheres;
5. To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilisation of their agriculture and industries, the expansion of
their trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of their
transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of their peoples;
6. To promote Southeast Asian studies; and
7. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations with
similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation among themselves.


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
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.


The ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders on the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN, agreed on a shared
vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity,
bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.

At the 9th ASEAN Summit in 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established.

At the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007, the Leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the
establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the
Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
The ASEAN Community is comprised of three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN
Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Each pillar has its own Blueprint, and, together with
the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Strategic Framework and IAI Work Plan Phase II (2009-2015), they form
the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015.

Please click here for the ASEAN Political-Security Community Video.

Please click here for the ASEAN Economic Community Video.

Please click here for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Video.

Please click here for ASEAN History and Purposes.


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.

With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN will henceforth operate under a new legal framework and
establish a number of new organs to boost its community-building process.

In effect, the ASEAN Charter has become a legally binding agreement among the 10 ASEAN Member States.

Find out more about the ASEAN Charter here.

I agree with Johanna Son, Any takers for ASEAN news? that “an ASEAN story is a
rights story, a labour story, a business story, a political story.” The story
touches parents, students, professionals, and every ASEAN citizen. Ever since I got
involved as an ASEAN advocate in 2011 and now consultant for the ASEAN 2017
Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic communications, I took it upon myself to
make ASEAN understandable especially on how benefits can be derived . This is my
attempt to list down current and potential opportunities as well as benefits for the
ASEAN citizen.

1. An opportunity for students to cross-enroll in 10 ASEAN countries.

There is the ASEAN University Network (AUN), an arrangement between 30 +
universities in the ten ASEAN countries, where students can cross-enroll for other
courses in college. The AUN even developed the Asean credit transfer system. The
system allows students to check online to find which courses will be accredited by
their home universities. With the vision of an ASEAN Community in 2025,
the critical importance of higher education is acknowledged as one of the catalysts in
accelerating ASEAN’s economic, political and sociocultural development agenda .

READ: The ASEAN community 2025 vision: What is in it for me?

2. Participating in the protection of the biological diversity in cooperation with
the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

The ASEAN region includes the Coral Triangle, the six million square kilometer area
of tropical water that is home to six of the seven species of sea turtles and more than
2,000 species of fish. This is mind boggling . The region hosts 15% of worldwide fish
production, 33% of seagrass meadows, 34% of coral reef cover, and 35% of the
world’s mangrove acreage. The marine life in the interisland seas of Indonesia and
the Philippines alone “would be sufficient to feed more than half the world’s seven
billion people. ASEAN 10 can be the top seafood provider of the world if we work
There is so much the youth can do for their future and one can start helping out
through the other key programmes of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)

3. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will be a single market and

production base

The dream of a single market started in 2007 when ASEAN leaders adopted a
blueprint for the Asean Economic community (AEC) allowing the free flow of
investments and capital across a region that is home to more than 600 million people.
The AEC is characterized by the free movement of goods, services, investment, and
capital by the year 2020. If one is thinking of a future business, the AEC is an

There is the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which has given “Filipino consumers
more goods to choose from at relatively cheaper prices. AFTA has raised the level of
competition among suppliers and producers in the region, which benefits consumers
in the sense that it has led to the production of higher quality products, more options
for similar products, greater accessibility in finding products, and more importantly,
products that come in more competitive and wallet-friendly prices.”

Trade is so important for ordinary people. It’s opportunity for new jobs.

4. Visa-free travel
With affordable plane fares, it’s easy to travel these days but better yet if is visa-free .
As a citizen of the ASEAN, you can travel visa-free to all ten ASEAN countries, but
with limited time period. How many countries have you visited? Make it part of your
bucket list.

5. Recognition of educational and technical qualifications

The ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) supports recognition of

educational and technical qualifications across participating ASEAN countries. Here
is an example. If an Indonesian engineer who holds certificate A according to
Indonesia Qualification Framework is going to work in Singapore, AQRF will
translate this certificate A into certain level in the Singapore qualification framework.
AQRF is aimed to facilitate free movement of labour in the ASEAN region. The first
meeting of the AQRF Committee was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from February this
year to discuss work plans and priorities for the next two years, including identifying
interested ASEAN countries who will undertake the referencing process to the AQRF.

6. Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) for ASEAN professionals on the


If you are thinking of your future career and opportunities in the ASEAN, consider
the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) . The MRA enables the qualifications of
services suppliers, recognized by the authorities in their home country, to be mutually
recognized by other AMS who are signatories to the MRAs. MRAs are not expected
to override local laws. There are seven MRAs in the ASEAN region: Engineering
services; Nursing services, Architectural services, Dental practitioners, Medical
practitioners, Tourism professionals, and Accountancy services. Of the seven MRAs ,
only the tourism MRA provides for automatic recognition of professional credentials.
Image via migrationpolicy.org

The health-related MRAs are essentially closed, destination country-led frameworks

with minimal opportunities for recognition. Although they also adopt a semiautomatic
recognition process and have strong post-MRA guarantee provisions, the countries of
destination have reserved full authority to determine qualifications.

The MRA is still a work in progress . For the MRAs to be fully implemented,
however, laws have to be translated into clear working processes. Progress in this area
remains slow and uneven across countries and for all occupations. You can download
the full report of the Mutual Recognition Arrangements.

7. Assistance in times of disasters from the ASEAN Coordinating Center for

Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Center)

The AHA Centre is established as part of ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen

collective response to disasters and to reduce disaster losses. The establishment is
mandated through a legally-binding agreement called the ASEAN Agreement on
Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), which is the region’s
response to the need for a regional disaster management framework. The
Philippines, being a disaster-prone country, “received assistance through the AHA
Center, be it in the form of financial donations, goods and services (medical and
transport), or through the capacity building of our disaster response teams.”

8. Better connectivity

Gil Santos in his article “Wiring Asean for Progress” cited “Dr. Alfredo Panizales,
executive vice president of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippine East Asean
Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Submarine-Terrestial (BEST) Cable Corp. who outlined
the current work to interconnect the region’s communications infrastructure with the
rest of the world. The BIMP-EAGA communications project is a joint effort of the
four Asean members’ government-owned corporations (except the Philippines which
is represented by the EA Trilink Corp., a private firm designated by the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao, or ARMM). The first phase of the BIMP-EAGA BEST
cable project connects Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to Brunei, and will be completed by
the end of this year. The second phase connecting Kota Kinabalu and Tawau is
finished and part of the Pan-Borneo terrestrial project. The third phase, the undersea
cable from Tawau to Parang in Central Mindanao facing the Illana Bay and the Moro
Gulf, will be started at the end of this month and is scheduled to be finished by the
end of 2018. By the start of 2019, it should be fully operational. This will mean a lot
to consumers in the Philippines because it will bring down the costs of internet
services in the country.”
In addition, the National Broadband Plan of the Philippines, recently signed by
Philippines President Duterte, is the Philippines’ contribution to the objectives of
the ASEAN ICT Masterplan of 2020 , ” propelling ASEAN towards a digitally
enabled economy that is secure, sustainable, and transformative; and enabling an
innovative, inclusive and integrated ASEAN Community.”

9. A conducive environment to micro and small and medium enterprises


The role of MSMEs is acknowledged for their unique contribution to the economic
development. “Reducing regulatory burdens to provide a conducive environment to
MSMEs growth will be the focus during the third Southeast Asia Regional Policy
Network on Good Regulatory Practices (GRPN) on March 14 to 16 in Iloilo
City. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the ASEAN members
would work on standardizing business registration in the region.

10. The adoption of policies to protect migrant workers and professionalization

of the civil service among member countries

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, chair of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural

Community (ASCC) pillar is pushing for the protection of migrant workers based on
the conviction that economic progress should improve the standards and quality of life
of all citizens. In the recent 17th ASCC meeting, Secretary Taguiwalo mentioned
that there will be two key documents that will hopefully “come to frution in time for
the 30th ASEAN Summit to be held late April”. These are the ASEAN Leaders’
Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as Catalysts for Achieving the ASEAN
Community Vision 2025, and the ASEAN Declaration for the Protection and
Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
Some of these opportunities have not been realized yet but it is something to look
forward to . There are potential benefits in a life of a secure environment, a better
living standard , better job prospects, sufficient income and stable prices, a better
education to our children, effective help in case of disaster and emergencies and the
freedom to travel , work and settle.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations[11] (ASEAN /ˈɑːsiɑːn/ AH-see-ahn,[12] /ˈɑːziɑːn/ AH-zee-
ahn)[13][14] is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten countries in Southeast Asia, which
promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational,
and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia. It also regularly engages other
countries in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue
partners and is considered by many as a global powerhouse,[15][16] the central union for cooperation in Asia-
Pacific, and a prominent and influential organisation. It is involved in numerous international affairs, and hosts
diplomatic missions throughout the world.[17][18][19][20] It is a major partner of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation, developing cooperation model with the organisation for the peace, stability, development and
sustainability of Asia.