Secretary-General of ASEAN,
Excellencies, Ambassadors and Heads of Missions of ASEAN and other Friendly Countries and of International Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May peace and prosperity befall upon all of us,
It is my distinct pleasure and honour to address this august gathering on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). I am truly grateful for this rare and splendid opportunity to share with you Indonesia’s perspective on various recent developments affecting our region.
Therefore I should like first to thank Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN who has kindly invited me to deliver the inaugural lecture. There is no denying that ASEAN has fulfilled the expectations of the international community as embodied in the Cl1arter of the United Nations that a regional organization should be able to relieve the World Organization of some of the burden of its work at the regional level.
While the United Nations is the chief instrument for peace as well as for economic and social development at the global level, ASEAN has proven itself to be also an effective instrument for peace and socio-economic progress not only in Southeast Asia but also in the larger Asia-Pacific region. In fact, ASEAN, on the basis of its many important achievements, is widely recognized as one of the most successful regional organizations in the world today.
Since its establishment in 1967, ASEAN has assiduously developed and refined various mechanisms and arrangements to encourage trade, investment and industrial complementation.
It is therefore no coincidence that ever since, the ASEAN countries as a group achieved a rate of economic growth higher than the world average. In fact, the ASEAN region grew to be- come part of the “East Asian economic miracle” that lasted until the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998.
Today the ASEAN region has largely recovered from the Asian financial and economic crisis. As the world is beset by many problems, such as the adverse economic impact of the war in Iraq, the global economic slowdown, the negative impact of terrorism, including the Bali Bombing and the SARS epidemic, the ASEAN countries as a group continue to consolidate their economic recovery while investors are beginning to take renewed interest in the region. ASEAN’s economic dynamism is also encouraged by the interest of various economic powers, including China, Japan and South Korea, in intensifying economic cooperation with ASEAN bilaterally and through the ASEAN+3 process.
It is no coincidence either that since ASEAN was founded in 1967, the region has been emerging peaceful. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, with Indonesia serving as its interlocutor, ASEAN launched an initiative toward peace in civil war-tom Cambodia. That peace initiative, with vigorous help from the international community and the United Nations, finally led to a successful peace process that brought about the rebirth of a democratic Kingdom of Cambodia in 1993.
In the process, ASEAN also became widely recognized as a force for peace in this part of the world. Through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) formed in 1994, ASEAN was able to secure the participation of all the powers whose activities and interest impact on the security and political stability of the Asia- Pacific region.
Today, the ARF continues to serve the goal for which it was established: to manage security relations among these powers so that peace based on mutual trust and goodwill is eventually achieved.
ASEAN also endeavours to ensure peace and prosperity for the region. Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the Russian Federation concluded Joint Declaration on Partnership for Peace and Security, and Prosperity and Development in the Asia Pacific Region. Meanwhile, China will accede to the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. That would be a major contribution of ASEAN and the dialogue partners to global peace.
Today, the Association continues to build and consolidate the network of dialogues and other arrangements that have served Southeast Asia in good stead over the years. For instance, ASEAN is strengthening its linkage with Europe, while maintaining its close engagement with the Americas and the South Pacific through APEC.
Just a few days ago, in a landmark event hosted by Indonesia, ASEAN helped start the building of a bridge of cooperation across the Indian Ocean, linking the nations of Asia and Africa through the Asian-African Sub-Regional Organizations Conference (AASROC) in a partnership for peace and progress. Through the AASROC, which is co-sponsored by South Africa, the Spirit of Bandung, which sprang from the Asian-African Conference of 1955, and the ASEAN Spirit have come together to work for the shaping of a better world.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
In spite of all its achievements and the flurry of its current activities, ASEAN continues to be confronted by formidable challenges, mainly as a by-product of its rapid expansion. Today ASEAN is seen as being a two-tiered organization, with the upper tier composed of its first six members, or the ASEAN-Six, while the lower tier is made up of its four latest members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, or the CLMV countries.
We are realistic enough to acknowledge the need for greater cohesiveness within the Association and for bridging the gaps in social and economic development among the members of ASEAN.
Another challenge that ASEAN must address is poverty. Since the mid-1990s, when ASEAN was well on its way to realizing the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), it was already anticipating the conquest of poverty as a basic problem in Southeast Asia by the year 2020.
Unfortunately, soon after the Association developed the ASEAN Vision 2020 and articulated it in 1997, the Asian financial crisis struck and shocked the ASEAN economies of much of their celebrated dynamism. Today the problem of poverty remains as real as ever and its ultimate conquest remains a dream in Southeast Asia.
Another challenge that is not at all new but has become such a great source of anxiety in recent times is the threat of international terrorism along with all the other non-traditional threats to security, such as the traffic in illicit drugs, arms smuggling, money laundering and people smuggling. Regional plans of action to tackle such problems had long been established as part and parcel of ASEAN’s functional cooperation, but suddenly these appeared to be inadequate in the face of the cataclysms like terrorist attacks in the United States and in Bali.
These two tragedies roused the entire civilized world to the immense danger of international terrorism and other transnational crimes. It became clear that no single country or group of coun- tries could overcome this threat alone. In Indonesia’s view, which is shared by the rest of the ASEAN members, it would take a global coalition involving all nations, all societies, religions and cultures to defeat this threat.
To all these threats, I believe that we, the ASEAN countries, have been making the appropriate and effective responses. What we need to guard against is that in the course of responding to security threats, we al
low unilateralism to flourish in our midst. We must not allow that to happen, and we must do something about it.
It is not the case, however, that ASEAN has not been responding to this challenge -it has done so, right from the very beginning but in subtle and almost imperceptible ways, moving at a pace that does not frustrate its fastest member, nor discomfort its slowest. In fact, a number of far-reaching changes took place after the Bali Summit of 1976 when the ASEAN Leaders issued the Declaration of ASEAN Concord, which greatly expanded the work of the organization, and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers decided to establish the ASEAN Secretariat to enable the organization to tackle that expanded work.
ASEAN, however, must keep on developing. While it must remain faithful to its purposes, principles and ideals –which do not change– in this age of globalization, and in the face of the various crises that the world is confronting, ASEAN may need to take a close look at its bodies, procedures and approaches with a view to accelerating and enhancing its responses to situations and developments as they rapidly unfold.
This does not mean that ASEAN should be precipitate in its actions and decisions, but it does mean that ASEAN should be more pro-active, more sensitive to the mainstream values and ideas in international relations, including democracy and greater respect of human rights, and more attentive to its own felt needs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
How ‘should ASEAN respond to those challenges? To the problem of ASEAN’s diminished coherence as a result of its rapid expansion, the Association has responded in a most forthright manner -by launching the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), aimed at getting the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) to catch up with the rest of the ASEAN family in terms of economic and social development as well as in terms of capacity to participate in ASEAN’s many activities.
The initiative, therefore, has focused on infrastructure, human resources development, information and communications technology, as well as economic integration. We hope that the Initiative can be further intensified and accelerated with the participation of more of ASEAN’s dialogue partners.
Through organizational integration, ASEAN is also tackling the problem of poverty. In fact, what is actually happening is that ASEAN is being integrated in three ways:
- Organizationally, through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration;
- Physically, through an infrastructures-building programme that covers the Southeast Asian region and involves the construction of highways, railway systems and oil and gas pipelines; and
- Economically, through the AFTA and the IAI, which offer the regional economies as well as ASEAN’s economic partners a good number of attractive advantages.
One additional way by which ASEAN can further integrate itself is through cooperation on maritime matters. There is no .doubt that the sea plays an important role in the trade, transportation and communications activities of all the ASEAN countries, even land-locked Laos. The sea should serve as a bridge, a unifying force. That is why ASEAN, at the instance of Indonesia, has agreed to form a Maritime Forum for the discussion of issues related to maritime cooperation. Effective maritime cooperation can indeed help ASEAN overcome the problem of poverty in the region.
By addressing the problem of poverty, ASEAN is also responding to the challenge of security. This is the idea behind the early emphasis that ASEAN gave to economic cooperation.
In the face of a surge of international terrorism, ASEAN has also taken vigorous steps to combat this threat through, among other measures, an ongoing regional work programme against terrorism in which dialogue partners are intensively involved.
However, considering the security crises that have taken place in various places allover the world in recent months, including the ongoing nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, ASEAN needs to do more in order to help find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This is especially so in the light of a surge of unilateralism in international affairs that has shunted aside the established democratic ways of resolving disputes between and among nations.
Unilateralism must not be allowed to dominate international relations. ASEAN must act together with the international community to restore the rightful place of multilateral ism in relations between and among nations. For this purpose, we must work vigorously at two levels. At the global level, ASEAN must see to it that the United Nations resumes the central role that it should play in the settling of international disputes and in the attainment and maintenance of collective security. At the regional level, ASEAN should strengthen and consolidate its cooperation to enhance its capacity for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution.
On top of all these, ASEAN needs to be integrated politically so that a “we-feeling” could be developed among its members. That feeling should be strong enough so that members can resolve their disputes peacefully and amicably, no matter how sensitive these disputes are, instead of repeatedly postponing their resolution. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (T AC), to which all ASEAN members have acceded, provides for the establishment of a High Council that will serve as a dispute resolution mechanism. Indonesia firmly believes that it is now time for ASEAN to attend to this task.
Moreover, as agreed upon during the last Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, ASEAN needs to grow into a full-fledged security community. This does not mean a defence or military alliance among the members, but a more comprehensive political cooperation in which they share responsibility in responding to threats to regional harmony and security, as well as to the need in creating a truly regional order.
If ASEAN in recent years seems to have been moving rather slowly, it may be because it has been going forward on only one leg -the leg represented by economic cooperation. This is the biggest challenge of change that ASEAN must face today: it must now begin to move on more than one leg. It must now use both the leg of economic cooperation and the leg of political cooperation so that it can move forward faster and in a more balanced manner.
In the context of such a dynamism, it is important to consider the further enhancement of the organization of the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as the resumption of the practice of convening the Joint Ministerial Meeting of our Foreign Ministers and Economic Ministers before the holding of an ASEAN Summit. The ASEAN Secretariat must be strengthened to become more efficient and effective in discharging its more expanded and arduous task. It is essential step, for the achievement of balance in the work of ASEAN -balance between economic cooperation and politico-security cooperation would entail significant implication to its administrative support. In that manner, the future of ASEAN integration rests on twin pillars, namely an ASEAN Economic Community and an ASEAN Security Community.
That is why we have chosen for the next ASEAN Summit in Bali this coming October the theme, “Towards an ASEAN Economic and Security Community.” And it is my fervent hope that just as economic cooperation expanded and intensified in ASEAN after the Bali Summit of 1976, political cooperation will also enlarge and strengt
hen after the Bali Summit of 2003. Through this endeavour, I believe ASEAN would be more balanced, more stable, and more capable of pro-active responses to challenges and opportunities than ever before. And through similar endeavour, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and the Bali Declaration of ASEAN Concord would bring about its real significance. Thank you.
Jakarta, 8 August 2003
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA