Introduction to ASEAN

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, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Subsequently, Brunei Darussalam joined on 7 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999. These comprise the 10 member states of ASEAN today.

Such a commitment was of great importance for building trust in a region divided by stark ethnic differences and a scant history of inter-state cooperation during the period of colonisation.  

The 1967 Bangkok Declaration was an initiative to ensure peace and stability in the region, through a commitment to work together and deal peacefully with mutual differences.  Member states hoped to forge an independent bloc in Southeast Asia that would not be dominated or exploited by external powers.  

Today, the notions of sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and non-interference among member states remain central tenets of ASEAN unity and cooperation.